I have a bit of a rebellious spirit in me that occasionally gets me into trouble. It often causes me to speak before I think about the mood of the room or to let sarcasm seep into a conversation that requires more professionalism.
But that same spirit also allows me to be incredibly vulnerable because I have zero patience for pretentiousness. I can be an over-sharer because my feelings run deep and wide, and I don’t always see the need for societal rules that say we should keep our mouth shut. I struggle when people expect me to hide or not talk about parts of my life that they feel are shameful or inappropriate. This rebellion in me sometimes makes those people feel uncomfortable.
Most of the time, this way of being hurts no one. It can make my children walk far away from me, so no one realizes they belong to me, but that’s normal for teenagers, right? My husband occasionally kicks me under the table at dinner with his coworkers, but I always tone it down when that happens. I have never been someone who intentionally seeks to cause shock and awe; I am just someone who appreciates thoughtful honesty.
I never want my life to be something that turns people away from or off of Jesus. He has called me into a life of leadership and I don’t take that role lightly. I want to speak truth in love, listen well, and share the truth of God’s Word. I want those around me to feel welcomed and loved, accepted and heard, comfortable with who they are with no need to pretend. I would be so sad if I thought someone felt like they couldn’t be real with me; it would seriously break my heart! I try to model this realness in all my relationships, within reason. I, of course, don’t share my deepest, darkest secrets with everyone, but I also think most things aren’t as deep and dark as some might. So therein lies the rub.
There are people who are very uncomfortable with deep levels of vulnerability. There are people who feel like sharing is meant only for a precious few – and that’s okay! One of the greatest blessings about being in God’s family is that we are each unique. God gave us all different talents, abilities, and personalities; he never intended us to be robots!
On the flip side of my rebellious spirit, however, is a desire to please others. So while I may walk where I’m not supposed to walk or talk when I’m not supposed to talk, my soul feels crushed if I find out I’ve disappointed you or let you down.
This week someone who I hold an enormous amount of love and respect for, let me know they were incredibly disappointed with me. It was over a post I had made, with very little thought, on social media about a year that happened a long time ago and the music I enjoyed during that year. The music was not Godly. It wasn’t holy or pure or lovely and didn’t bring praise to God. But it was music that was sort of a battle cry for young women at the time when most of our generation was being told to be quiet and wait patiently for the older generation to hand us our role. It was vulgar and angry music and it felt very rebellious to an eighteen-year-old version of myself. The intention of the post was less about the music and more about me realizing all the things that happened that year, including that music, happened a long time ago. It was me, remembering a time in life that felt so big and weighted and is now but a memory.
But my post had brought offense and I felt the weight of that offense handed to me as shame. It felt hard and heavy in a week that already felt hard and heavy in a year that feels so hard and heavy I want to scream and cry and kick until it goes away. I allowed the words that were questioning my judgment, my character, and my ability to lead families to be spoken over me as fact instead of opinion. I immediately began to beat myself up and question the legitimacy of my life, choices and career. I allowed the enemy to use something intended to be a spiritual rebuke as shame. My head knows that shame never comes from Jesus, but my heart wasn’t hearing it.
This morning, however, God spoke to the deep places of my heart with an invitation of love.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
I was reminded that I never have to perform for God. Because of Jesus, I am always acceptable in His sight. God doesn’t need me to look a certain way or pretend to be someone I am not in order to fulfill His plan. There is nothing I can ever do or say to make Him love me any more or any less than He does at this very moment in time.
This doesn’t mean I rebel against God’s laws or sin against Him freely and expect to live a blessed life. No, it means that when I am walking with God and doing all I can to follow His ways, I will receive the blessing that comes in relationship with Him! I can rest in knowing that I share this walk with Christ alone. When I try to walk for religion or church or man, I exhaust myself. Jesus calls me to walk with Him, so He can carry my burdens for me, and I don’t have to be bothered with putting on a show for others.
I always want to reflect who Jesus is, and I never want my life to cause anyone else to stumble. But in my life, Jesus is full of love and grace and mercy. In my life, Jesus loves me for the person our Father created me to be. It is much more freeing to take Christ’s attitude of gentle, humble service and love to a world that is as imperfect as I am than to try to be someone I am not and not know how to reach anyone. It is so much more satisfying to laugh and love and allow people to see the power of Christ working in me in real time than to pretend He put me on this earth already knowing how to follow Him with ease.
I am working every day to be more like Jesus. I struggle every day to allow Him to work a miracle of healing in me, overcoming my character-flaws, addictions, and sinful ways. And I will never hide the work God is doing in me for the shame of who I used to be. The beauty of the woman He is creating is far more spectacular when you see where I started, how many times I have fallen along the way, and the grace He generously pours over me when He calls me to His arms to rest for the day. My prayer is that my life, and all that God is doing in me, will always point to the richness and beauty of a relationship with Him.
I know there will be many days when I mess up. I know there will be times I run ahead, thinking my way is better or faster. I know I will stick my foot in my mouth, sing the wrong words to the wrong songs, and dance off beat. I will laugh too loud and be way too much for some. But I am never too much for my Lord. I am also thankful for a long list of people in the Bible who were louder and more embarrassing than me; people who God used to build His Kingdom despite themselves. I am thankful the path to eternity does not depend on me but has already been carved by Jesus. I am thankful He has put people in my life that remind me to stay on the path, remind me of His love, and remind me of how far He has brought me. I am thankful He never shames me but instead invites me to rest in His arms of love.