At the end of the summer while we had people over, everyone crammed on benches around our kitchen table for what had been close to two hours and a couple pots of coffee, I looked at Sean. “Our table just isn’t big enough!” By coffee pot number three I hatched an idea that was practical, cheap, and would heap more work on my husband, which is generally how my ideas work. “You could build a bigger table for us!”
“Hmm…I’m not sure how I’ll do it, I’m not sure I have the time to do it…challenge accepted,” which is generally how he responds.
We brought my brand new table into the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving (and no one got high from the fresh stain–a Thanksgiving miracle).
The table celebration was especially sweet for me. There was a time I would have liked to shrink my table to prevent more people from joining. I was fatigued, tired of opening myself up, wanting my life to be my own. God was gracious in bringing me away from that mentality and exhaustion. He first gave me the rest and restoration I needed. He also brought the conviction I needed, and truly bent my heart toward others in a way that I was completely unable to muster on my own. He spoke to me about who he created me to be and how to allow my home and kitchen table to reflect it.
The noise of social media, the self promotion and platform building, the strategy behind getting people to hear my voice has shut me down. I’ve interrogated my desire to be heard, to add my voice as one more gonging cymbal, to build myself up to impress or give me credibility, and I hate the layers I see.
The noise of self promotion, media, and opinions paralyze me. My grief over the turns in society have made me want to curl up and hide…with my ears plugged…with my brain turned off. I don’t want to impress anyone as much as I want to put on sackcloth and mourn. I don’t want to blog. I don’t want to stir up anything controversial. I don’t want to speak. I don’t want any platform where people’s eyes are on me. The entire thing is exhausting.
As I war with my motives and the noise, something else rises in me, bringing opposition to my hesitation. I am compelled to share Hope. I’m compelled to share that we can live for something bigger than loving ourselves. I want you to know we are designed for purpose grander than our circumstantial happiness. I’m compelled to share God’s faithfulness. I have witnessed it with my own eyes. I’m compelled to encourage others as they wrestle with Truth, as they implement it in their lives. God has given me this medium of writing and an ability to speak. I can’t seem to have peace when I’m running from it.
Simultaneously, it makes me cringe.
“Lord, don’t you know that writing, speaking and leadership are terrible for my weaknesses!? Can I even call them strengths when they lead straight to pride; to pedestals that I need to be knocked down from? It takes every ounce of focus and dependance on you to keep the main thing the main thing. I get distracted. I have my own agenda. I’m ugly inside while people praise the outside. Why would I knowingly walk into that?! You should be compelling me to a vow of silence.”
Right there in the middle of my have-it-out, coming-to-Jesus prayer I heard myself say it, “It takes every ounce of focus and dependance on you…”
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Aw, blast. That was it, wasn’t it? I heard myself say it. I was complaining that writing and speaking would cause me to depend on Jesus. It would require of me to fix my eyes on God and not divert to the noise, the approval or disapproval, the masses. The very thing I pray in more rehearsed moments, “Lord, help me to depend on you," was causing me to whine, “But, Lord! I’ll have to depend on you!”
I know my own sin. I’m acquainted with my weakness, which makes me believe that I should soak up truth and study, but keep my mouth shut. I’ve failed and quite certainly I’ll fail again. But when I bring my excuses to the Lord, He reminds me who HE is. He doesn’t remind me who I am…like I said, we’re acquainted with my failures. He reminds me that He is faithful and good. “Who said anything about sharing how faithful and good you are, Shilo? Your aim is to share how faithful and good the Lord is. Quit making it about you.”
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5. When my focus and dependance is in Him, He asks me to share...with my voice...regardless of noise, opposition, and temptations swirling outside.
My exhale is one of relief and freedom. If I’m on stage, if I’m writing, if I’m proclaiming, it’s not because of who I am. It’s because of who He is. The pressure is off and the message is clear.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...