Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Just Liz.

I have been making some changes to some of my social media. 
It’s an attempt and a stand to go back to my roots and stay there. 
Let me try to explain, because I think there’s serious truth here for anyone.

Without realising it, we all fall under a certain stream or category of thinking. Unintentionally, we listen to, study under, read, talk like, and begin to act out of the people we are “following” and highly revere. It just slowly happens. Most of the time we are unaware that we tend to head in a certain direction. I know I didn’t see it. It took God dragging me back over here-half a world away- to truly rip off all the Americanised extras I have and sit me in the middle of having to slow down and be quiet and think. 

At first I had a very difficult time with the lack of connection and wifi. I didn’t want to say it out loud, but I struggled being off of texting and social media. Something in me felt a consistent agitation over not being able to “be out there.” And the day I realised that was my problem was the day everything started making more sense……..

I have always been vocal. I’m loud. I write and say things constantly. Most of it encouraging others to be outside the box. Rebel against our society. Stop the social media madness, blah, blah, blah……And I mean that. But here’s the thing. A lot of the people I really look up to and follow are very into all that. They teach that in order to truly get out there, truly become known and advance to the place you want to be, you’ve GOT to be on social media in certain ways, at certain times, posting these certain things. And boy have I ever followed that to a “T”. Sometimes I thought I was being super smart about what or how I was doing things. Sounds a lot like manipulation, doesn’t it? Sometimes I did it because I knew certain people would see it and I wanted them to think a certain way in response. Control issues much? And yes, we all succumb to this behaviour. But I didn’t see just how much I have until the last few weeks. 

I hit a point recently of literally crying and saying to God “But if I’m not posting people will stop supporting me financially. They might forget about me. I will move home and have been totally disconnected. What if they don’t want me for ministry because I haven’t been saying amazing things online? What if I’m nothing to everybody?” And as those words left my lips, it was like a veil was torn from my eyes. I saw just how much I’ve fallen into several traps. Traps of insecurity for one-which is hard to admit because guess who likes to portray herself as secure and all put-together? And traps of listening to man rather than my King. Man, who tells me what kind of thing I need to be doing with my life. Man, who says it’s a waste if I’m not passionately out there every second in ministry. Man, who makes me feel if I’m not rescuing victims of trafficking off the streets and locking myself in a prayer room I am too weak, can’t hack it, don’t understand what the spiritual battle in the heavenlies is all about. Man. Who says I HAVE to live in the slums of Africa or India to truly be living out what Jesus really said. That’s the biggest one. Do you know that until extremely recently I actually believed that? Because a teacher I had at Theology school actually says that the only true thing a believer should do is global missions. Period. No other option. And with his carefully chosen scripture to back it up, I felt I had no choice and I must do this or be disappointing God. So much poverty and need. Surely that’s what He wants. And why isn’t everyone seeing this, dang it? Wake up, guys!!!!! I thought that if I don’t end up on the streets of Houston or LA or here in Africa long-term, I am a weak failure. The pressure of people like that teacher and the trafficking fanatics and the mega-ministry gurus have made me feel like I’m going mad with desperation. Desperation to make something of myself. I learned to swing conversations my way when I meet a new pastor or important person. I know how to sweet-talk and even name-drop some of the “big” people I’ve had the pleasure of being around or working for. (The funny thing is the biggest name I like to drop would never ever be okay with that. But others taught me that’s how you get ahead.) I have fallen low enough in recent years to actually sign up for stuff just to rub shoulders with certain people. And then the other day with just a few sentences, God blew it all out of the water. 

I was sitting in front of the most beautiful waterfall. Just listening as the water cascaded over the rocks. Telling God I was here if he happened to have something to say........
(That was dripping with sarcasm, btw…) 
And it came. Simple. But profound enough to blow my world apart: 
“Stop. Stop all of it.” 
“What do you mean? Stop WHAT?”
“Everything. Push every bit of it aside. Now answer this: Without all the ‘should’, who are you and what do you love? No churchy answers!” 
“Okay. I love color. Lots of color. Art. Music. Oh, how I miss singing and playing piano and guitar! Theatre. Theatre makes my soul come alive. I just want to work on musicals every day of my life. I love the ocean. feeling girly. Literature: the smell of old books. Small cozy spaces. Traveling a lot. A corner of my own. Little House on the Prairie- why do I love that show so?! Older time periods. Nature. Animals. Food. Flowers…...” 
“That’s more like it. Do all that.”
“WHAAAAAT?! I can NOT do all that. I can scarcely do ANY of that. Life is too short and this world is falling apart. I have to serve. To be in ministry. I need to influence people. Mentor people. Work at the church. Work in trafficking. Keep going to Africa…….” 
“I don’t understand.”
“Stop it. Stop trying. Stop name-dropping. What do you think would happen if you never told others about working with _____ and being with ____ ministry? What would happen if you stopped it all and just did the things you listed and loved people passionately with my eyes? I wired you with all of that, you know. You think it’s all about ministering to others. But you walk away from the stuff that ministers to MY heart. Be you fully and simply. Those things do change a world that is falling apart."

And my world was shattered. It was like a high note had been reached and these glass walls that have been surrounding me fell into a million pieces at my feet. 

For the first time in my life, I understood the invitation to live simply and quietly. And I feel the freedom to just be……it doesn’t matter who sees or knows what I am doing. The ones who He wants to glean from it will be there. And that’s up to Him. What matters is that I fully do what I’m wired to do. All the way. That I stop listening to man and listen to my King. Will I work in ministry? Probably. Will I return to Africa? It’s likely. But I will first and foremost understand and make time for who I really am. And I will learn not to be ashamed of it. I will learn to enjoy the moments of doing what I love because I know He loves it. I will be colourful and artsy and imperfect and messy me. I will just be Liz.  No other titles. Because that’s what really matters. 


Megan said...

Love this! The simple truth is that the lives of those who follow Christ are mission fields no matter where they live or what they do for a living. Some are called to "go" and serve, and some are called to stay (and sometimes both, depending on the season). But our common goal is to live so that others will notice that there's something different about us. The Spirit will speak through our lives and reveal himself to others simply through our abiding in Him. And in the end, if no one else notices, at least we were obedient and attentive to His will. <3

fatima fortenberry said...

You said everything perfectly ... Keep it simple pursue with passion love with grace ... We are in such a rush but never breathe I'm going to Europe for three years ... Starting in June a small place no distractions ...I can't wait to see the lord in another way