You know–the kind of sick where you feel completely useless. Before I returned to bed this morning, I went browsing around Facebook, which is never a good idea when you already feel gross. I happened upon a friend’s photo collection, displaying his exotic adventures across the globe, as well as a few creatively hilarious moments between him and his friends, products of perfect snapshot timing and the luck of the moment. Suddenly, on top of wondering how in the heck I got sick, and guiltiness for staying home from work after the holiday and snow trouble, I find that I’m berating myself for never having had the initiative to plan a spear fishing trip in the Caribbean. That’s what intrepid, financially responsible people do, right?
“What’s wrong with me?! Sitting here in my pajamas… what a pansy I am for staying home.”
It always shocks me what kind of idiocy tangles itself in my brain, ha, because I start typing it out and realize, “Well, THAT’s ridiculous!”
I’m sure this isn’t the only reason, but lately I’ve been endangering my immune system with stress–stress which is generally unwarranted, let me add. Usually, it comes from dreams and desires that I set as expectations for myself, expectations with imminent, but indeterminate due dates. I forget that the greatest of dreams manifests in small, but steady sustainable steps toward completion, and not a single, valiant bombardment that bursts and leaves me consumed and burnt out.
Most especially, I get discouraged by looking at people who are, granted, doing amazing things, but not necessarily ones that I’m interested or destined to do. I take a snapshot of all of the people around me in their best light and compile them into a composition of the person I’m supposed to be. Once again, in writing this out, it seems so absurd because what I’m trying to do is live out the lives of people who are not me, or rather getting discouraged over living a life that is not my own, and getting bogged down in shame.
A few days ago, I was listening to a sermon by Danny Silk from Bethel in Redding, California, talking about loving God with our whole heart and the effects of shame. It was really about much more than that, but hard to sum up. But he gave a beautiful definition of “Courage,” which he pulled as a derivation from the Latin word for “Heart.” And in its original translation from the Latin to English, it meant, “To tell your story from your heart… to have the courage to be known, and to be known for who you really are… That the original translation of courage has to do with what how you live, not so much what you do.” It’s an issue of identity.
What struck me as he went on, was how he described shame as masking or robbing you of your courage. Suddenly, my understanding of identity shifted and was realigned with where it was supposed to be–that under grace, momentary lapses into sin and shame are not part of who I am. And that, beyond sin, in placing expectations over myself, I’m calling myself to take part in a life I was never meant to lead. I’m reminded that Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. And not only that, but that I was made with certain gifts and talents–and moreover wasn’t made with others that I’m not expected to excel in because it’s not how I was made. And when I’m steeped in shame, the splendor of the Lord I was made to reveal through joy and freedom, through the natural gifts He’s put in me, is blanketed.
Beneath all of this musing, I was reading in Luke this evening and I saw a passage in a light I’d never seen before,
I’ve traditionally read this as an encouragement not to be consumed with material appearance because of the provision of the Lord. But I think another interpretation might include this understanding–that I do not have to strive and worry about all of the great things I will do for God. I don’t have to toil or spin or strive or work to “do great things” in the name of Jesus to prove my love or devotion to him. He can do that without me.
But in the same way that the lilies grow up joyously as lilies–not trying to grow as roses or daisies or tulips (or pansies :D)–I am meant to grow up in the joy of knowing Jesus, naturally radiating His glory to those around me through the gifts He’s created me with, without toil and without strife, but out of the overflow of personal relationship with Him. Ministry, works, spiritual gifts–all of it is an act of fellowship with God.
“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (vs. 31).