Original Image by Meagan via Flickr Creative Commons
This month, I taught a journaling class to the women of Project 41's Esther's Academy. I'm unlikely to forget the experience.
These girls are amazing--a visible testimony of the power of Jesus Christ to transform a life.
In the brief time I've known them, they've become my heroes. Though aware they're still deep in process, they continue to lean into Jesus day after day. In the face of failure, discouragement, and fear of the unknown, they continue to walk in victory.
You don't often encounter courage like theirs.
Almost from Day One, they allowed me to participate in their struggles, hangups, and hardships. Who does that?
Their vulnerability inspired my own. I committed myself to complete each assignment along with them and share a little of what I'd written at each class.
Two weeks ago, I asked them to write a letter. For therapeutic purposes.
They chose the recipient. The letter could be addressed to a friend or enemy--living or deceased. It could be to God or to a part of themselves--past, present, or future.
The chief requirement was honesty. Grit.
I think I struggled with my letter more than they did. I couldn't decide on who to write it to. Who I needed to write it to.
So I asked the Lord about it.
Over the course of the week, through various circumstances, He revealed a part of myself I thought we'd handled.
In a way, we had handled it. It no longer mastered me, but it was still there.
A year ago, I physically trembled every time I stepped outside. Back then, the whole world seemed out to get me. And it kind of was. Wasps, ants, heat, cold, random crop dusters loosing herbicides over nearby fields. So many things...
My case of "the shakes" ended several months ago. Then the Lord further dealt with my fear during my prayer session. But apparently, it left behind a few personal belongings in the nightstand drawer so we'd have an excuse to see each other again.
So I wrote Fear a breakup letter the morning before class. I'm good at breakup letters.
(Fun fact: I once wrote a breakup letter for a friend of mine. The recipient was my husband. We started dating six months later.)
We've been together a long time, but you haven't been a very good friend. You've bullied me until I'm afraid of everything. Even things I used to enjoy.
I still can't relax when I go outside. I'm too busy thinking about where the wasps are. I want to go outside and not think about blankety-blank wasps!
I want to write without neurosis. To imagine teaching again without feeling nauseated. To speak when the Spirit leads without fear of being wrong. To obey God about leading worship without flashbacks to every musical mistake I've ever made. Without worrying that people won't like my voice because it's different than the current preferred style.
Thanks to you, I'm afraid to fail, afraid to succeed, afraid to be noticed, and afraid to be ignored. I am a hot, crazy mess.
I'm tired of trying to please you. You set impossible standards and never stop raising the bar. In short--you're a bitch, and I don't like you.
So go. We're done. I'm pretty committed to this whole God thing, in case you haven't noticed. I love Him. I'm in love. And He loves me--succeed or fail. He fulfilled every standard you've set. Neither performance nor popularity define me. I'm His. His is who I am.
Consider this my resistance. I'm already submitted to God. All that's left is for you to flee. I command you to go in Jesus' name.
Now, you may write this off as a silly exercise. But let me tell you what's happened since I wrote this thang:
- I'm writing again. Not my novel, but I'm writing.
- I've talked to my small group leader about leading worship.
- I've reached out to a friend who's willing to teach me how to accompany praise and worship choruses. I hope to meet with her next week and start leading worship this summer.
- I feel easier about the idea of teaching music again if that's where God leads me.
- I'm not constantly looking for wasps when I go outside. Sometimes, I don't think of them at all.
- The chronic cold and sinus issues I've had for two months dried up the day I wrote that letter.
Coincidence? Make of it what you will. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the extra drawer space.