December 3, 2013

Everything I'm Not

I'm not sweet. I should be, but I'm not. That's what I thought to myself as I pulled into the garage and closed it behind me, safe from the opinions of others in the cocoon of my home. I'd been thinking of someone who is sweet and how much I love her and how I wish I were sweet like her. And, although I was ensconced in the comfort of home, the familiar bombardment began, and I couldn't find a way to hide from all the thoughts, all the thoughts of everything I'm not.
This fall has been a weird one, and I've been and felt weird because of it. I've come face-to-face with my faults and weaknesses and mess-ups. The spotlight has shone brightly on everything I'm not, and I've struggled to turn it back to God and who He has made me and what He's given me to do. As a result, I've shrunk back and questioned just about everything about myself.

I've shrunk back in relationships, worrying too much about what others think of me and always assuming that they think the worst.

I've shrunk back in ministry, unsure of my gifts, unsure of my place, and feeling on the outside, mostly because I've put myself there and kept myself there.

I've shrunk back as a mother, letting my failures and insecurities lead. 

I've shrunk back in my writing, afraid to remove the protection I've placed around my heart, uncertain that I have anything to say, and, above all, questioning if this is God's idea or if it's been my selfish idea all along.

I've even shrunk back a little from God, holding parts of myself away from Him.

The tape recording of everything I'm not has played in my head for a few months now, and I knew it was happening, but I couldn't put words to it and I certainly haven't known how to make it stop.

It's all been fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not having anything of value to give. Fear of being different or disliked. Fear of writing what I don't really know or live. Fear of missing it. Fear of being disconnected or lonely. You name it, I've probably feared it.

But this past week, I had another thought invade: What if I lived as if the gospel were true every hour of every day? How would that change things? 

That's how I recognized that it's all been fear, because I suddenly saw my thoughts and my life in light of the freedom and the power of the gospel and realized how much I wasn't living in freedom and power. Instead, I've been chained, paralyzed, stuck, and completely stopped in my tracks. All by fear. 

And so I went to Him and laid it all out on the table, weary and desperate, because fear makes you weary and desperate. I told Him how I am weary of writing because of the pressure that, through fear, I was placing on myself. I told Him how I am so sick of thinking through the filter of the opinions of others, and I confessed this idolatry. I told Him how I haven't gone all out in relationships because I have been so intently focused on my own inadequacies and so fearful that I won't be loved. I told Him how I haven't used my gifts fully because I've compared my gifts with others and have come up short every time.

God, please speak to me. I am desperate for You. That's all I could say. It's all I wanted.

And He did, taking me directly to Psalm 27:1:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?

If I lived as if the gospel were true for me every hour of every day, there would never be room for fear. If I lived as if God were real and His Word is true, I would not fear. But I hadn't been living free from fear, and God made that clear to me in the gentle yet firm way that He does when He convicts. 

And I tell you that in that moment, my heart soared. I chose to release my fears one by one. I chose to turn my mind from everything I'm not to everything that I am because of God. I chose to look at my roles, responsibilities, and opportunities through eyes of faith and to trust Him as I pursue those. I chose to believe that I have absolutely no reason to fear, especially other people and their opinions of me.

This morning I had to re-choose all those things, because the thoughts have become a habit. But I'm finding already that the more I think about the gospel and Christ's message of love, approval, and purpose, the more I am purposeful with everything that I actually am and free of the fears that come with everything I'm not.