I’m Firing Olivia Pope

(Right off the bat, let me assure you: this post has NOTHING to do with politics.)

If you’ve seen the TV drama ‘”Scandal”, you know Olivia Pope as the fictional “fixer” who averts or minimizes crises for the President of the United States. She swoops in and manages his reputation, spins events to his political advantage, and helps him avoid embarrassment. She can reframe the most compromising situations so he always looks respectable. (Of course, in the show, she also does other things – and so does he – that indicate questionable character, but I’ll limit my analogy to the “fixer” part of her role here.)

Here’s the thing: I often feel like I would like my own Olivia Pope. Someone who can run interference,  polish me up, and make me seem like a better version of myself than I really am. And you know who I’m inclined to appoint to that position? Me.

I laughingly tell people all the time that my life’s goal is to: “Never humiliate yourself; others are far too willing to do it for you.” I’m only half kidding when I say that. But I don’t think I’m alone in this, am I? I think we’re all control freaks to some extent when it comes to how we want to be perceived by other people.

For example:

  • I hate the idea of coming across as ignorant or unprepared;
  • I do what I can to avoid being thought of as an intellectual lightweight;
  • I dread being rejected  for something in my past that might “disqualify” me for a particular opportunity or relationship;
  • I avoid negative attention if at all possible.

(Even the way I just phrased those examples was purposely oblique so you’d get my point without me confessing anything specific.)

When I landed on my word for this year, release, I knew that this concern that others perceive me well is something I need to practice letting go of. But for me, it’s not enough to want to do that and expect to succeed by sheer force of my will. It won’t work to say, “Self, stop being such a control freak! People don’t care!” and *BOOM * I’m suddenly not a control freak. No, I have to figure out how to redirect this energy I expend on being Olivia Pope for “President Diane”.

It’s okay to want to give a good impression – to be professional and poised, to do things with excellence – I’m all about that, to the extent I’m capable. But when it devolves to perfectionism, it’s a fool’s errand and a waste of time. It doesn’t honor God.

When it comes right down to it, that is exactly who isn’t fooled by my Olivia Pope performance: God. He’s fully aware of everything I’ve done and everything I am. I don’t have to spin, avert, swoop in, or reframe anything for Him so that He’ll think better of me; He already  knows the drill with me. He has witnessed every stupid move I’ve made and He doesn’t condemn me! Because of Christ’s sacrifice, I am forgiven, once and for all.  

That means God must be my true source of significance, not the impression others may have of me. When I refocus my energy on cultivating an authentic relationship with Him and letting that be the message of my life, it’s a huge relief. I just have to open my hands and release the real me to the One who accepts me and finds me worthy – without the spin.

He is all the things I’m not (and so much more) and He wants to remake me in His image, not the image I want to project. I’m a work in process, I admit, but it’s worth a try.

So I’m firing Olivia Pope. I was never good at acting anyway.


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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

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