On Minimization of Gifts

I sing in church sometimes…only when the Holy Spirit makes it so clear that I have to share a song that I can’t even think clearly anymore. I know that I am supposed to share a song in worship when my heart rate hits about 180 bpm when I hear or think of the song. It’s not easy for me. Sometimes, well, most of the time, I am Spirit-dragged into the sanctuary. I get the runs approximately 4 times during the hours leading up to worship. I mediate, I deep breathe, I pray in English, I pray in tongues, and I repeat the process until I am planted on the stage. Even through the intro, I continue to inhale *breathe in love* and exhale *breathe out fear*. 

Now, it’s not about me. I’m the vehicle. I pray that I stay out of the way. If God wants to speak to people through my offering, that is in His power, and I just cooperate as the vessel. But it is still so scary.  It is scary because I feel so fundamentally inadequate–as a human, as a voice, as a delivery system.  And this is not Godly humility. It is insecurity, self-hate, and self-effacement. It is some weird backwards worship of self. It is the idea that I can use my gifts when they are perfect, so that no one can find fault in my performance, not even me. That’s not about God. That is all about me. 

What brings life to my soul? Where do I shine the brightest? Where do people ask for me to serve? What talents are we burying out of fear, insecurity, and really, underneath it all, self-worship and self-preservation?  The thing is that what brings life to my soul will give life to others who witness my light.  As Jen Hatmaker says in For the Love, everyone else is grinning while we run our race. 

I’m not doing anyone any favors by staying away from the microphone.  I was made to sing. That was clear from the beginning. While we are on the topic of gifts, I was also created to write.  I manage to convince myself (or the enemy of my soul convinces me) that I am deluded in presuming that I have anything to offer.  But wait! That doesn’t make sense. I am a child of God, created with gifts. We all are. What if we all just collapsed, paralyzed with fear that we weren’t enough? That our talent just wasn’t far enough out of the park? That we couldn’t win on America’s Got Talent, so why even bother? How void would our world be of joy, and of beauty? 

It takes risk. We have to be brave. And we have to stand up against the lies and expose them for what they are.  We are burning with passion, and it is there for a reason. 

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Truth Teller

Truth Teller

God is calling me to be a truth-teller. He is asking me to enter into a place of vulnerability so that I can be a safe place for others to be vulnerable. I currently like reading The Message paraphrase of the Bible because the other translations stir up too much junk from the abuse of my childhood. In 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9 in The Message says, “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we are not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t been broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—He lives!”

I have offered to give my testimony at church in November. I’ve been praying and trusting that God would lead me to the part of my testimony that He would want me to share. I assumed that I would share a more benign, less-offensive part of my testimony, such as overcoming a 20 year battle with anorexia, coming out of three suicide attempts, or maybe a battle with chronic illness. Surely, God wouldn’t be calling me to share the deepest, darkest, most painful parts of my story, not yet. Besides, I am not physically strong enough. But then I read Jen Hatmaker’s book For the Love (twice), and lo and behold, God clearly laid out my testimony for me. Jen says, “The truth is, most people respect vulnerability and hold it with tender hands, especially those who love us and faithfully bear our stories. We are so afraid, but truth-telling leads to life.”

I need life. I need my darkness to step into the light. Then maybe I won’t be so confused and broken anymore. Maybe, just maybe, I can heal better. So I am going to share about my history of ritual abuse at the hands of my parents. I am going to talk about the brainwashing.   I am going to share the darkness because the light was breaking through even then, and it needs to be shared. I am going to share the darkness because light and life are greater than that darkness, and my life is a testimony of that. That darkness is no longer a place of shame. It is redeemed, and God permitted it because He knew something that the cult members didn’t know. He who is in me is indeed greater than the Satan that the ritual abusers worshipped. They did not destroy me, but in fact, the very activities that were meant to destroy me became a launching pad for God to work His redemptive, beautiful plan in my life. I am going to say it out loud. I am going to say “Satanic ritual abuse” out loud, and I am going to watch it shrivel up in the light of Christ. I was unable to combat the abuse as a child, but my God, even then, delivered me from my abusers. I am going to step out into the light. My legs will shake, but I will be standing. I am a survivor of the unthinkable, and I don’t have to hide anymore. My life is a testimony of God’s matchless power on so many levels, and I am called to live boldly. Jen says that light wins when I tell my truth, and she says that no one will drop dead. I really hope that she’s right.