I'm feeling pretty beat-up today. And just guess who's doing the pummeling? (love that word) That's right, no one but me.
Confession #1: I am a Messy. With a capital M. As I go about my work today, I'm ashamed to note that my house is dusty, dirty and disorganized. Once in awhile I'll make an effort to whip it into shape, but it always falls back into chaos eventually. This is a life-long issue I've made very little progress on over the years. It was (more-or-less) fine when I was younger and single - I could be as messy as I wanted to be when I lived alone. (And I was - I have a regrettably high tolerance level for dirt and disarray.) But add a family into the mix, and there are issues. Expectations. This has provided me with a steady income of shame.
And then there's yesterday. I led worship for the first time by myself from the piano. I don't know what I was thinking. What appeared a courageous and obedient leap of faith in the moment only seems vain and presumptuous today. In hindsight, I'm so ashamed to think that I made both God and myself look foolish. And no amount of positive feedback to the contrary (of which there was a good amount) is convincing me today.
To be perfectly honest, I feel like I'm failing at this new life I'm trying to make for myself: our financial situation is still strained, I"m still months away from producing anything of any value, and I'm horribly afraid. I hate feeling like this! But the truth is, in each of these situations, I've done the best I could with what I've got. I need to keep doing that, and let go of the guilt and shame. I guess God wants to deal with shame in me on a whole new level. (Man, I thought we were done with that one! See A Very Happy Anniversary for the back story...) Even in my present state of mind, I'm quite sure that this is not what God has in mind for me. Fear and doubt and guilt and shame are not from Him.
I had a crazy thought the other day. Someone named Lisa Bevere wrote: "I dare you to stop being afraid of your strengths!" I read it twice before it sunk in, and it made me wonder if I'm as afraid of succeeding as I am of failing. This in-between place in which I find myself is relatively safe - starting the ministry, writing the book, recording the CD, etc... It implies progress without much accountability or expectation. I could probably hang out here in limbo indefinitely, and be perfectly ok with that.
But what I did yesterday - that was NOT safe! That was terrifying! That was putting my money where my mouth is, that was do or die; allowing for the possibility of judgement, expectations, criticism, even rejection and ridicule...I mean, how often do I do things that terrify me? How often do I take risks? Hardly ever. I hardly ever do things that really challenge me, that really put my faith to the test. That really try my skills and determination and courage and limits. Generally, I'm a chicken, a coward.
The last really scary thing I did was agreeing to, and going through with, seeing a counselor in an attempt to save our flailing marriage. That was a risk that definitely paid off! But that was months ago. Before that, the only brave/crazy thing I can remember is quitting a job I didn't love to pursue this calling to ministry. But I don't know if a few courageous decisions can make up for a lifetime of apathy and roads not taken.
Maybe this ties into my whole anti-surprise stance? I prefer the safe, the predictable, the comfortable, the known. I guess most people would admit to that. But why? Why am I so afraid? To take risks? To take chances? Even to have people disagree and disapprove? Why? What am I so afraid of?
Well, I don't know. If you're looking for answers, you've come to the wrong place today :) But at least I know where I am. I guess that's where I start. Instead of living here in limbo-land, I'll keep taking little risky steps into the (great?) unknown.
And I can do that. I know who God is, I know who He says I am - and I know I can trust Him. I can be fearless and peaceful and joyful and brave. I can be willing to put myself out there, knowing that He'll catch me if (when?) I fall. This is the truth. And the truth can set me free.