“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.” ~Madeline L’Engle
It’s been 4 weeks since I stood up in front of the women at Declare and bared some of the uglier parts of my story.
I’m still feeling tender from the experience.
I have thought about how to share this with you for weeks, initially deciding that I wouldn’t, because it’s too hard and it requires more vulnerability. I convinced myself that no one needs a re-cap, when the truth is that I simply don’t want to re-live it, rehash it, reconsider it.
(Nothing went wrong, I ought to say that outright. The angst I’ve been wrestling through is entirely my own, and not the result of any negative feedback received on my end, after-the-fact.)
I went of course, purely on God’s invitation, extended to me through the beautiful women behind the event. But since coming home, the words I said, or forgot to say have dogged me steadily, nipping at my heels and pulling at the loose ends of my heart. It’s been 4 weeks. But I am growing increasingly s l o w at processing life. (Apparently, I’m not the only one, which I confess, is a relief.)
The insecurities started within 24 hours of wearing that microphone pinned to my collar. I prayed for weeks leading up to the event to just get out of the way. I’ve been at this long enough to know that when God extends an invitation, it’s because He has something to say–because someone, even if it’s just ONE person sitting there, needs to hear it.
I accepted the invitation. I attended an event that bore the scent of heaven around every corner. God was surely in that place. Nothing makes a person feel smaller and more humbled than being in the palpable presence of God. I’d say, this is to be our usual position–small, humbled.
To want to be known is Biblical but it’s not to be by people. You are to be known by God.
When I stood up there that first night, I gave the message I think God had intended all along. It’s not a new one for me. But it’s not an easy one either, because in it, before the beautiful, merciful redemption, is the ugly truth of where I’ve been. The beginning is harder than the middle. But even as I say this I realize that it is my pride that reacts this way, it’s the part I repeatedly wrestle, in attempts to smother it once and for all. It’s the part of me that wants to appear holier-than-thou, the part that struggles to confess brokenness.
God is not punishing us when He takes that which is toxic out of our hands.
The story really is beautiful, I’ve been forced to remind myself over these last few weeks. Not because of me but because of the ways God drapes Himself over my mess and transforms what was destined for destruction, into something that can encourage others–only by His grace. Only out of love and mercy.
We are called to make disciples for Jesus not fans & followers for ourselves.
Someone has to deliver the unpopular message that it’s not actually all about us. If the most trusted messengers are the one’s who speak from experience, then in this area, I am a certifiable expert, having lived the bulk of my life purely for and by my own ways and means.
That is what God invited me to share–that’s the message He’s had me re-tell lately, like it’s the only story I’ve got. That story is the reason I sign everything with the phrase, “By His Strength, For His glory”, because for most of my life it looked more like, “By MY strength, for MY glory”.
When you lose your idols, it’s a relief – maybe not at first – but it will be.
In the days since I’ve felt the words of my keynote hurled against me like whips. The barbs of the pieces I intended to say, but forgot, and the bits of detail I neglected in my nervousness, have come at me like fiery arrows. I know it’s not God’s condemnation. And I’m not fishing for affirmation. I went at God’s invitation, and served Him to the best of my ability. Perfect?–I was not. Flawed and human and honest?–I was–I am.
This coup the enemy has staged against my heart is not unique to me. When I shared my wrestlings with other friends who are also writers and speakers, they expressed having had similar battles in the aftermath of delivering a message. Because he’s a thief, the enemy of my soul has fought hard to steal the gift of the invitation. Because he’s a thief, he’s probably stealing something from you right now. Check your pockets.
The part about my talk that makes me the most uncomfortable is the part that seems to resonate most. I repeatedly hear these two words: authentic and vulnerable. I can embrace that, if it means people will see God bigger than they see my mess. I can keep it real if it means people will know God is real. I can shatter and break if it means God’s light is more magnificently reflected in all of the piece–if it means the repair is more beautiful than the original.
When God invites you, it is a gift. When you go in His strength, when you pray for Him to take over, He does. That’s what I am continually reminded of. When God asks you to keep telling the same story, there’s a reason for it. Trust Him, accept the invitation, and believe in His purposes.
If God has given you a dream it’s because He has a purpose for it.
*All images used with permission from the amazing Courtney “Coco” Mitchell.