Monday, June 6, 2011

In Pursuit of God’s Comfort, God’s Comfort Pursues Me

Look well at My handpicked Servant; I love Him so much, take such delight in Him. I've placed my Spirit on Him; He'll decree justice to the nations. But He won't yell, won't raise His voice; there will be no commotion in the streets. He won't walk over anyone's feelings, won't push you into a corner. Before you know it, His justice will triumph; The mere sound of His name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers. Matthew 12:18-20, Isaiah 42:1-2, The Message

When I’ve given my spiritual and professional best and in return my intentions, offerings and heart receive barbs and misjudgment, I find it interesting how God comforts me. One difficult aspect about being the only adult in your household is not having anyone to process thorny circumstances and difficult people with porcupine personalities.

I needed perspective and not my own. I called a successful professional who evaluates top management for a search firm to ask for input. My headhunter friend finds people with the right personality and communication skills for the right leadership position. 

All I asked? Could you read an email and give me feedback. After reviewing the opening paragraph of an email that shot my brain into a full-on migraine, this evaluator of interviewing successful candidates affirmed what my body told me was true.

A Headhunter's Impartial Evaluation
The tone of communication was not something that reflected maturity or respect. “This person is not open to anything you have to say. Decline the opportunity,” was the advice offered, reinforcing a thought cycling in my mind, “A dog returns to its vomit.”
The communiqué felt familiar. Far too often my loyalty and commitment to the Lord, ministry and serving others set me up to accept spiritual abuse by those in a leadership position of power.

But was God calling me to feel humiliated, demeaned, discouraged, and put down in order to serve man?

God calls us to communicate the heart of His message and who He is. We reflect Him by how we talk to and treat others, even to those who rub us wrong or irritate our temperaments. After all, God’s love never stops pursuing those whose actions irritate Him and those who outright reject Him.

Thousands attend my church, so attending a service is an exercise in extreme loneliness and disconnection. Yea, the praise and worship is musical perfection and I’m there to worship. The sermon? Professional. Theologically sound. Top notch. But sometimes concern from a loving community is what you really need and that’s not what a cast of thousands of strangers offers.

Yesterday a kind pastor greeted me with a side hug and “Glad you are here.” Tears issuing from my hurting heart flowed throughout praise and worship. I longed to be understood and comforted. My downtrodden heart listened to the lead pastor speak on Psalm 23 and how in the midst of the dark valley God is with us. A part of me thought, “Yea right. I’m not feeling that right now.” My strafed heart offered God a silent plea, “I need you to show up and be with me. I need to feel your comfort.” Minutes later, walking to the parking lot, I ran into a new ministry partner. Her warmth and our shared ministry passion lifted my down spirit.

That evening and many tears later, a friend sent a tear-stained devotional she wrote after the sudden, devastating loss of her sister. Her sister’s last words? “Don’t not be who you are.” How often had I been “not who I am” to please those who demand you earn grace they’re not equipped or willing to give?

Don't Not Be Who You Are
Today I received three emails. One that simply stated the Scriptures written above. Another  titled, “You can reframe anything.” Okay, I needed to reframe the upsetting experience. The other comforting and encouraging email was titled: “Why Higher Writing Can Hurt.”

Writers make many sacrifices for their art.

Does standing out set you up?

Time, family, money, activities, the life of writing does not guarantee much but deprivation.

Yet choosing the goal of higher writing may ensure some readers will be offended. We humans can't seem to help but resent what we can't control. Having the goal not of providing answers but providing an experience may be freeing and produce a certain glee in the writer, but it can also open you to being a scandal.

Those who stand out may be branded.

But my encouragement to you is this: be assured of the value of participating in the challenges for higher writing. The journey is worth it.

In the search for what's possible through words, what is pain but an opportunity for greater comfort? What is sorrow, but a chance to realize more joy on the other side? If a goal of your story is to show that all works out for good ultimately in the end, you may be called on to prove that conviction with your life. Seeking this way might set you apart, make you a target. A deeper awareness may be your stock and trade, but it could hurt too.

My challenge to you is to accept the sacrifice. When you are in love, is there really any choice? Leave the anxiety behind and seek out the mysteries, come what may. If you've been called to explore heights and valleys, you are never alone in either place. Ever-present help is always right there in the choice to hope, to believe, and to write despite the costs.

Standing with you in your essential difference as a writer of more real, more honest, more challenging words this week....Lovingly, Your Coach

After five days of tears and emotional conflict and pain, the coach’s email reminds me again: I am called by God, not man. I am handpicked by God’s servant to serve others through my giftings, passion, personality, and temperament. Deep within my God-designed spiritual DNA, God takes delight in how he created me and affirms, “Don’t not be who you are.”

To offer the sender of the wounding missive mercy, I deleted emails filling in details he lacked leading him to hurtful, false conclusions, and simply replied, “I’m not a fit for this role.”

1 comment:

  1. From Facebook: Gloria Jenkins Rose I love the message: "don't not be who you are." But I'm sad you had to go through pain to deliver the message. Thank you♥