I awoke this morning feeling a bit like a spinning top. There were several reasons really. First, I was scheduled to be away on a field trip all day with my middle child and was trying to wrap my head around all that needed to be done beforehand. Secondly, I’d put up a blog post the previous night that was fine but I had two complaints about it: 1. It was too wordy. It could’ve used a haircut, and 2. I talked about process over destination in general terms. Ideas and concepts that probably most people could relate to, but at the end of the day, nothing that revealed much about my own personal struggles.
The reason that second one bothered me is that I came to a realization a few years ago: the more vulnerable a speaker (or in this case, a writer), the more effective. I formed this opinion after hearing a lot of speakers speak and after doing it a good bit myself. In the past, when preparing a message to share, I thought it of utmost importance to have a bullet-proof talk, air-tight theology, and to be above criticism. I also put a lot of time and energy into being clear, concise, and staying within the time-frame given to me. I laugh now looking back at one memory in particular. I had a meeting with my pastor, who’s also a friend, to review what I’d be sharing and announced straight-away that what I’d prepared may take me twenty-seven minutes instead of the twenty-five minute slot he’d given me.
You might say I was a little uptight. Wish I could say I was totally over that. Better, for sure, but not perfectly loose like Jello.
I struggle with a variety of physical symptoms that are related to my type-A personality. I’m tight in the shoulders and I clench my jaw when I sleep. This leaves me feeling stiff and tense and usually manifests itself in lots of headaches. I’ve prayed for a long while that the dental condition, TMJ, would be healed. Others have prayed. It hasn’t gone away. My doc says it’s part dental, part personality. Great.
Exercise helps as does slowing down and remembering to breathe. At times I’m disappointed that God won’t heal it in an instant. Or at least hasn’t. I know He can. Sometimes, in moments of clarity, I think it may be because He’s leading me through a process of healing (i.e. He is healing me, just more slowly than I’d like). Revealing the reasons why behind the what and giving me the how-to plan, step by step: Focus on me. Eyes on me. Not on yourself. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Take it easy. Lighten up. So what if you mess something up? I’m still here. You don’t have to be perfect.
You see, I like to p. Not, pee (although I do that quite often too because of my high water intake), but do things that begin with the letter “p.” These are the areas in which I need the most healing: performance, people-pleasing, and perfectionism. This is not new information to me. The Lord’s been working on these areas for a while now, the area of the p’s. I’ve definitely experienced a good bit of healing. But there’s a well-worn path pointing toward them and my feet find their way back to it fairly easily. I’d say they’re separate paths, each one its own beast, but the truth is they’re really jumbled in there all together.
Using my voice – whether in spoken or written form – forces me to deal with these issues. When I open my mouth to give a word the Lord’s put on my heart, I’m essentially opening myself to not get it right, be the subject of criticism or disagreement, or at the very least, to reveal that I’m the same as everyone else: a person in need of a Savior.
That’s a good thing.
Because it sets me up for healing. Helps me remember I’m weak. Leaves me feeling vulnerable. Exposed. Susceptible to attack.
Being in that place gives me only two options: 1. turn to the Lord, or 2. be left to my own devices. Now I may not be the sharpest tack in the box but I’m smart enough to know that #2 could be disastrous. Going that route hurts me and hurts other people. Door #1 is definitely the one to choose, the one to walk through. Ironically, it’s BOTH the safest and the most risky. Safe because I serve a powerful God who protects and defends me. Risky because He doesn’t necessarily call me to do safe things. In my own life, I see Him calling me out of safety, out to the ledge of the mountain. Where I’m more exposed. More vulnerable. Out here on the ledge I risk losing everything I’ve been conditioned to put my trust in: my own instincts, my own strength, my own knee-jerk reactions. Not all bad, but left unfiltered through His love, His voice, the product is still the same: just me. Likable but not necessarily powerful in a supernatural way.
I just re-read what I have written up to this point. Instead of feeling critical, instead of getting out a red-editing pen, instead of worrying about what you think, I’m really only left with one thought: This is what I needed to hear today. This is where I need more healing. Thank you, God, for the message you’ve given me. Okay, so that was three. Sometimes I’m good when I’m wordy.
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