Every few weeks, I volunteer at my church and help lead Sunday morning worship. Meaning, I sing with the praise band. I enjoy being a part of a musical group, and it is a place where I can just be. I don’t have to think about saying the right things or having the perfect explanation for thought-provoking questions. No, I get to hold a microphone and worship my Lord. Some people would be terrified at the idea of singing in front of one-thousand plus people any given Sunday, but it doesn’t bother me. Since I was a music major in college, I’ve sung and played instruments in front of thousands of people over the years, so I can just be when I’m on stage. What is casual for me may be the worst nightmare of others, and that’s okay. On the weeks I don’t serve, I enjoy sitting with the congregation singing to the Lord.
This past Sunday, I felt the Lord telling me just to sit back and watch. Not watch the people in the room, but rather, He wanted me to watch the people on stage. It’s easy to think that those in leadership or on stage have it all together. They look so polished; they speak or sing with such conviction. In the Christian realm, it may seem like they know God more or even that God loves them more. When it came to gifting, those leaders were at the front of the line getting the good stuff. This is not limited to church-life. At work those in leadership seem happier. On Facebook, our mom friends actually do the Pinterest crafts, and they turn out great. We look at our own failed attempt and jokingly say, “nailed it”. We get mad at ourselves for losing our temper with our mini-me’s, and try to reason if we are saving for college or therapy for our kids. We say to ourselves, “If I could only be like the person standing in the stage lights, then, I would be so happy… If I had her career, then I would have it all… If I was a better mom, then my kids would be well-behaved.” It’s the if/then statements we tell ourselves over and over.
Here’s the thing, those people in the stage lights, or any leadership position, have the same junk in their lives we all have. Like I said, I help lead at my church, and I also lead two Bible studies and serve on planning teams. On paper, it looks like I have it all together, but I don’t. I have a lot of pain that I have to work through, and I have remind myself not to believe the lies. I struggle with feeling like I’m good enough…good enough for anything. I’m not sharing this for pity, but I want to communicate that if you are feeling inadequate, you aren’t alone.
I have had a pretty emotionally and verbally unhealthy relationship with my mother. She does not live for Jesus. In fact, she is a practicing Wiccan. She has invited demonic spirits into her life, though she says she is a good witch. Her words, not mine. As a child, when my brothers and I would misbehave, as children do, my mom would lock herself in her room and threaten to harm herself. As a 10 year-old, I would sit outside her door and promise to be good, as to stop my mom from carrying through with her plan. Other times, my mother would fabricate stories about my siblings and me in order to contribute to a conversation, causing us kids not to know what part of our childhood was real or just a way to get attention. There are more stories, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. When I became a Christian at the age of fifteen, warfare entered into our home. From that point on, nothing I could ever do or will do will be good enough for her. The demon in her hates the Holy Spirit in me, so we fight… a lot. Any time we do talk, it’s me reaching out to her, and the conversation turns to her complaining about someone or something for 30 minutes before hanging up on me. All of this is to say, I am insecure about relationships and friendships. I have trust issues. I mean, if the relationship with my own mother can be broken, why not those who aren’t related? The first voice you hear in your life can be the loudest one as you grow older, so good or bad, that voice can be the one that speaks to your core.
Through prayer and professional counseling, I have come to peace with my past. Satan still likes to throw things in my face, but I remember that Christ has the ultimate victory. I don’t want to say that because I have Jesus my life is sunshine and roses. The sun can still burn and roses have thorns. I can still be broken. I can still have hurt. I can still cry late at night or in the shower because I feel rejected or left wishing I had a better relationship with my mom. Those who only know me through the stage lights don’t know the hurt. They only see the polished. But the scars from years of torment and tears can be seen only when you are up close.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about how he will not boast in his accomplishments, though he has every right to. Chapter 11 starting in verse 21, Paul shares how he has endured great suffering for the sake of the Gospel. He doesn’t want to proclaim how he has suffered more for the Gospel; rather, he shares as to show that in spite of his great weakness and hardship, God still used him for the glory of Christ. Paul continues speaking about his shortcomings until chapter 12 verse 9:
“But He [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul boasts in his weaknesses, not his strengths. I will boast in my weakness because through weakness, not pride, Christ is exalted. Don’t let great lighting or speaking fool you. Don’t allow the glitz and glam of a performance make you think that those on stage have it all figured out. If I didn’t have mess off stage, I could NEVER truly worship the Lord in any sort of leadership. I would have nothing to be saved from. Jesus is my Savior because He saved me. I was going to die. I didn’t have hope. The chances of me knowing the Lord based on my upbringing were slim. I am saved from my depression. I am saved a life of insecurity, because I am secure in Him. I still have scars, but scars are proof that something has healed. Can those wounds be opened back up by a horrible phone call or misunderstanding? Yes, but my Jesus is in the healing business.
I am thankful that I can share part of my story, so others will know that they aren’t alone. Like Paul, I still have thorns in my life that keep me humble and remind me that my service in the Lord is not of my own doing. Just remember that stage lights and platforms do not equal holiness. They are only places God allows people to serve, even if there is junk off stage.
Photo courtesy of The Woods Church – Warren