“The older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. If your work is authentic enough, believe me – it will feel original.” Elizabeth Gilbert (Thank you Mandy Reid for sharing this quote on IG this week)
And I’m facing all kinds of fear about sharing it. My first thoughts as I share this are thoughts of comparison. The quality of my video and the sound are not nearly as good as Morgan’s video. I’m too giddy and awake and awkward, and on and on. The angle of the video is weird. My posture isn’t great and I’m tucking my pelvis. And what was I thinking doing something that a friend did so recently. Lot’s of people do sun salutations to the Lord’s Prayer, it’s not original at all, and it’s just recently been done within my own extended community. Why would anyone want to do my silly video?
And then another voice rises above the noise, “Just do you. Just share where you are. And this is where you are.”
This is where I am friends. When I filmed this video there was so much freedom and space in my heart. I jumped out of bed eager and excited, because for once I truly believed that what I had to offer mattered, even if it was totally unoriginal, even if only one person ever saw it, even if no one liked it. Because for that moment I truly believed that God loved me, that I mattered to him, and mattered to his kingdom. I truly believed that my voice mattered.
Today, feels different.
Today I am in a different place, and fears and insecurities are rising up in conflict to that still center of grounded truth. So, today I make a choice to believe, not out of an outpouring of feeling, but from a conscious decision of faith. Today I chose to do my own video, to listen to my own voice, to trust that I am truly beloved and as such I have a place and purpose.
And to go a step beyond that…
To trust that it is not my responsibility to fabricate, create, or build my place or my purpose.
All this insecurity and fear come from a lack of trust. I want to secure approval. I want to secure my place. I want to ensure that my voice has weight, that my place is a particular place. I want to control my path and contrive a purpose for myself. That is not freedom!
It is the work of the Spirit to determine my place and purpose. It is my job to trust, to follow, to obey. One step at a time. And if all those steps led to hurt, and pain, and a dead end? Then trust again.
My work is to become so deeply engrossed in God that I become ever more forgetful of self.
I have been reading Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster and came across this beautiful section today which struck me right where I am:
“Our attention becomes more and more drawn to the divine Center. “It begins to consider God more often than it considers self, and insensibly it tends to forget self in order to become more concerned with God with a love devoid of self-interest.” … Do you know the wonderful new freedom this simplicity brings? No longer is there the stifling preoccupation with ourselves. Now there are new liberating graces to care deeply for the needs of others. And most wonderfully of all, we can lay down the crushing burden of the opinions of others. Fénelon witnessed, “With purity of heart, we are no longer troubled by what others think of us, except that in charity we avoid scandalizing them.” We do not have to be liked. We do not have to succeed. We can enjoy obscurity as easily as fame.
We have also a curious liberty to speak about ourselves, not excessively but naturally. I say “curious” because most people assume that those who are truly unself-conscious would never talk about themselves. That approach belongs to an earlier period in which, out of false modesty, we try to quell any rise of pride… it is a strained humility and contrary to simplicity. In time, however, we begin to relax, and are enabled to speak of ourselves with the same candor as we do of others. “Simplicity consists of not having any wrong shame, or false modesty,” writes Fénelon.
…Throughout history there have been various traditions which, in one form or another, have advised verbal debasement of ourselves in order to gain mastery over reigning pride. We can remember this tendency in some of the ascetic practices of the Middle Ages, but it is also in evidence today in what I have sometimes called “worm theology.” “Without God I am nothing, I am no good, I am a worm!” Whatever merit such statements have theologically, I honestly doubt that they have much value in increasing selflessness. Fénelon is, I think, far wiser when he says simply, “Self-love prefers injury to oblivion and silence.”
Friends, I am so far from simplicity. I am so far from the holy centeredness of one desire. I live continually in a duel-minded state of “wrong shame” and “false modesty.” I feel shame and hide. I shrink back and diminish. I am seeped in the kind of false modesty that constantly apologizes and defers. I minimize my contributions. I minimize my voice. I soften my language. I minimize myself, my gifting, and my place in the kingdom.
I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to live out of simplicity of heart, singleness of purpose, centered in the divine Love of God. I want to live out the freedom and power that comes from that kind of centering.
But, oh, this is a long journey. A continual spiral. Thankfully Foster ends this section of his book with encouraging words of hope for my heart.
“But it is not a spiritual roller coaster either, because through all the motion there is a sense of progress and growth. The feeling of intermittent communion begins to give way to more sustained fellowship… Slowly and certainly, howbeit with many reversals, knowing God moves from obligation to delight. Although many times we do not pay attention to the holy Whisper, increasingly we do… As much as we may flirt with double-minded living, our real love is singleness of purpose and increasingly it is capturing our heart.”
Lord, you are capturing my heart in new ways, deeper ways. My desire is to be centered in your presence. That you would be the still center of the spinning wheel that is my life. And that more and more you would hide me away with you in that center, even as I move about through my activity. So, that all my activity, my creations, my decisions, my conversations, would begin to stem from a place of grounded centeredness with you. I desire for my life to be so ordered that as things come my way I can accept them with trust, without shrinking back, without minimizing. And that as things go, I could accept their departing with equal grace of purpose and trust in your love. May I grow to trust that what is for me, will come by your hand, and what is not for me, will be kept at bay by your hand, all in the goodness of your sovereign love. May my focus become less on myself and more on You so that I can move freely into the places and purposes you have for me, trusting that all of them are good, for you are good. In Jesus name, Amen.
Friends, I want to go back to the space of freedom that I experienced as I made this video, but all I can do for now is pray, open my hands, take a deep breath, and keep taking steps forward in trust.
Rejoicing in the journey,