we run to the shadows

i’ve really been thinking of this idea of shame lately.

i always used to joke with church friends about denominations, and my catholic friends would always talk about the guilt the church put on them via confession, etc.

i got to thinking about my own church experience (i always say i’m a recovering southern baptist) and i just look at the immense shame that was loaded onto us as kids and teenagers.

there was this moral code that we had to live by. not that a moral code is bad in and of itself, but it wasn’t holiness. it was more like a checklist of things so that we could make God happy, at least that’s the way i received it.

if i messed up and did something wrong i surely didn’t want anyone to know, so i became really good at covering it up. i only cursed around my non-church friends. i attributed my virginity through high school as a pursuit of purity when the truth is i was too nerdy for any girls in my small town to sleep with (i sure did try)

this shame led to a dual world in college. i had my church friends and my other friends. my church friends had no idea of the life i lived outside of their presence, my shame wouldn’t let them. i wrote the other day how my parents didn’t really shame me, but others did, so i learned how to hide and lie.

so why? why do we continue in this pattern of shame when true freedom lies in confession. we’re so afraid that someone will reject us because of what we’ve done. it’s because it has happened. people judge and walk away because of actions.

but God is so much bigger than that. i hate that i project on Him the way people act sometimes. He says His ways are higher than our ways, but we think He will treat us like they do. we can’t fathom this  idea of grace that would reach down into our shame and pull us out of it. so we try to hide yet again. problem is you can’t hide behind a fig leaf. God sees it all. He sees it all and He still loves us. wouldn’t that be amazing for us to get? to see people for who they really are? no masks. no lies. no shame. no judgement.  just love. i realize that is not a human tendency because of our own brokenness, but if we could let God live through us? the old version of me is dead. i now live in Him. He lives through me. and the more i embrace that, and Him, the more the old dead stuff will fall away. i won’t have to worry about shame and the list because my heart will be far from those things.

the bible tells in Matthew that we are the light of the world. we can’t be hidden. we don’t hide the light under anything, yet when we are ashamed, we try to do just that. but the light always  reveals what is true, that’s why we sometimes try to stick to the shadows. the true Light shows us the way.

His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light–light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazing through murky bottoms. It cannot, and will not be quenched. John 1:4-5 The Voice

even in the darkest place, a glimmer of light will be seen. and His is no small flame.

let us walk out of shame and into His light today. are you with me? it isn’t easy, but it will bring us freedom and rest. i see the light, lets walk toward it.

on repeat…

last night i had a thought go over and over in my head.

“whom then shall i fear?”

i knew it was from a song, but the next lyric wouldn’t come. just over and over “whom then shall i fear?”

i knew it was in reference to the 23rd Psalm, and the bible verse that says “if God is for us? who can be against us?” popped up in my head for a split second.

but it kept repeating. it’s like a record that was skipping. it was on loop in my brain.

i could even sing the tune, but the chorus of the song was eluding me.

so i dwelt on that. i mulled it over. whom shall i fear? i sang and said it over and over. i thought this isn’t how i talk, it’s almost antiquated language with the whom and the shall. the question morphed into, why am i afraid? who and what am i afraid of?

this morning as i woke and was beginning to write, it hit me. the next lyric.

Oh no, You never let go

Through the calm and through the storm

Oh no, You never let go

In every high and every low

Oh no, You never let go Lord,

You never let go of me

it was just there. but i think God wanted me to focus on the first lyric last night. it’s like He was asking me, “what are you afraid of? I’m here.”

i think so often we avoid doing the things we need to because we are afraid. and that fear overwhelms and cripples us, but we are warriors who serve a God who is like a lion. He is for us, and even though it scares us, we have to step out and believe that.  quite often what we are afraid of is a lie. i’ve heard if you name it, the truth comes out.

i’m afraid of these things. i’m afraid that i will never know the true love of a woman. i’m afraid that my bills won’t get paid every month. i’m afraid of being lonely and alone. i’m afraid that my children will be damaged by divorce and separation. i’m afraid that i will run to things that are temporary fixes. i’m afraid that i’m not seen as a man. i’m afraid that who i really am will be exposed. i’m afraid of failure. i’m afraid of success. i’m afraid of losing everything.

why am i afraid of those things?  they are all lies. i claim to trust God, yet i’m stressed and worried over things that may never happen. or i’m worried about things that happened in the past that color today or the future. and when i do that. when i live in that place of fear. i miss the moment. i miss the right now.

so, whom then shall we fear? God is for us. He is for us. He’s not in opposition. He’s the best player on our team. we need to make sure the playmaker has the ball.

so don’t be afraid. live today. i’m sure going to try. i pray that you do as well.

don’t dwell in fear because He never lets go.

have you ever…

known something already, but needed someone else to verify it for you?

i’ve pretty much been in this anger funk for about 2 years now.  basically anytime i begin to move away from the feelings, the adversary just pulls me back in.  i have become tired of living in this cycle of the past, so i decided to seek some counseling.

after telling “my story” the counselor looked at me and said, “you are being crippled by fear!  and that fear leads to you being controlling which leads to shame & impatience over the things you can’t control.  you need to extend yourself and others forgiveness and grace”

WOW!  and i never said a word about being fearful.  i wrote a few weeks back that i was fearful to create, but that wasn’t the fear at all.  the fear is of rejection.  i’m afraid if i do what i’m called to do, i will lose my job again.  i’m afraid if i show my true self to people, they will burn me like they did before.  so i try to control everything and make sure it’s perfect.

i have some homework to do.  lots of hurts and forgiveness to flesh out, but the most profound thing that the counselor said to me is this.

“you have one job, to tell the truth”

if i boil all of what leading worship comes down to, it would be that.  we stand in front of a congregation and we tell them the great truth of God.  we sing true songs to and about Him.  we share the truth of scripture and the truth of the gospel.  and if we do that, then all of that other stuff that’s out of our control doesn’t matter.  we are His children and when we tell the truth, He is pleased.

i needed to have that truth spoken into my life this week.  and just like the Bible tells us, i know the truth, and it is setting me free.

i’m trying to write a song…

i’m trying to write a song….

maybe if i keep singing that over and over again the words and the melodies will come.  the problem is, this keeps coming back.  let me fill you in…

basically i’ve written songs for about 10 years on and off.  typically in places where i challenged myself to write.  i typically can bang out a song in a day or two which should tell you that they’re probably not very good.  i do have one song that a couple of churches sing, but i don’t know if that is indication of quality.

so songwriting is not a discipline or a hobby, it’s an on again-off again, when i feel like it or get depressed enough situation.  i write better when i’m a little sad.  i hate being sad, so often i’d rather not write.  i can write if i impose deadlines upon myself.  i need a song for a special occasion, etc.  one of my songs was actually recorded.  keep in mind i wrote that song 10 years ago.

so songwriting is my friend one day and my enemy the next.  herein lies my issue…

i have all of these ideas swirling around in my head that i absolutely cannot force out onto paper.  melodies and lyrics.  chords and transitions.  it’s all there, but it won’t make it’s way to paper.  not in finished form anyway.

so what really keeps me from writing?

i think it can be summed up in one word….FEAR!

it’s the thing that cripples me creatively.  what if someone HATES it?  or even worse, what if someone LOVES it?  what if people latch onto the songs?

all that to say that on the piano are two pieces of paper with scraps of lyrics and i recorded a scratch vocal/guitar into my iphone.  i’ve challenged myself to write 5 songs in the next 6 months.  what i’ve really challenged myself to do is write 5 GOOD songs in the next 6 months.

i’m going to try to write every day.  a poem, a blurb, a lyric.  something to get into the discipline of writing.  Jon Foreman writes a song a day.  it’s no wonder he has a wealth of material to go to when he puts together an album.

so pray for me.  i want to create….but i’m afraid.