What if I were just… real? What if I were just… me?
Would that be enough?
I keep feeling God nudging me, prompting me to just share my thoughts. Share my life. No big master plan. No over-arching digital marketing strategy. No “Twelve Steps to Grow Your Ministry and Build an Online Audience” roadmap to follow.
Just… be. Be me, transparently… fearing, failing, rejoicing, succeeding, and everything in between… just living my life. But revealing a glimpse behind the curtain… a window into the inner-workings… and in so doing, emboldening others to do the same. To live vulnerably, truthfully… as Brené Brown would say, “whole-heartedly.”
Nah. It can’t be that simple, right?! The over-achiever in me thinks surely there must be some path to follow… some checklist that will direct me and provide the satisfaction of checking off action points along the way.
But let’s get real. Life isn’t like that. It doesn’t fit into our plans, there aren’t nice tidy paths, and it certainly can’t be reduced to a series of checklists.
It’s messy. It’s beautiful. It’s exhilarating. It’s exhausting. It’s every jumble of contradictions you can imagine!
God didn’t provide us with a “User’s Manual,” as some have occasionally characterized the Bible. As I learned from my friend Keith Ferrin, and have embraced as a powerful, paradigm-shifting truth: The Bible is the only book in the history of the world written with the primary purpose of bringing us into relationship with its Author. Does it have valuable information that can help us live better, more loving, more fulfilling lives? Absolutely. But its purpose isn’t to teach us about history, or how to live our lives, or even to teach us about God! It’s to help us know God.
Know, as in, “have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.” Not the knowing of head knowledge, but the knowing of deep, heartfelt relational experience.
Because if I know God that way, I will love Him and rely on Him… and that means turning to Him for guidance. And sure, sometimes He uses his Word to provide it… but sometimes He communicates it in other ways. And I don’t want to have my eyes so focused on a strategic plan, or my nose so buried in a guidebook (even if that book is the Bible itself!), that I miss God’s still, small voice speaking to me in some unexpected and amorphous way. That I miss an opportunity to take his hand, look up at my Daddy with childlike trust, and follow along wherever He wants to lead me.
It takes consistent, intentional effort to override our “default settings” in life. And, of course, I’m referring to default settings that negatively impact our lives… any positive ones you have, by all means, embrace them! Revel in them! Let them run wild and free! But, for the negative ones… it’s a process to rein them in, to retrain them, to repurpose the core characteristic driving that destructive behavior for good, constructive ends. And understanding how or why we ended up with unhelpful default settings isn’t nearly as important in this effort as simply recognizing and acknowledging them, and doing the necessary work to override them and affect positive change. Without judgment.
Ohmygoodnessgracious, that is so hard to do! To not berate the over-excited little girl in me that wants to run ahead of my Daddy and show Him the things I can do to make Him proud… instead of kindly, gently guiding her to return to his side, and reminding her that holding onto his hand is the safest and best way to truly enjoy life.
It’s that same judgmental voice that thinks this whole just-be-real-and-vulnerable-and-you-online thing is bonkers. “You can’t just do that! What will they think? What will they say? Or will they not think or say anything because they never even read it, and no one cares, and you look like an idiot?! How about THAT, huh?!”
To which I’m choosing to reply, “The only thing that matters is following God’s lead. And if this is what He wants me to do, this is what I’m gonna do. Because I trust Him. It doesn’t have to be perfect, bedrock-quality trust, without a shadow of doubt… just enough trust to be obedient. And I have that. And I can do that. So I will do that.”
So that’s what I’m committing to with this writing. Being obedient to His call to be transparent… (gasp!) online. If you’re a friend, or loved one, or heard me speak somewhere, you know that I’m capable of brave transparency. I say that not to brag in any way, just grateful to God for giving me the ability to do that. I think it’s brave when other people are vulnerable… so I figure I should give God appropriate praise when I recognize that quality in myself! Because it’s definitely Him and not me!
The irony is, although I’m capable of brave transparency in person, in relationship… for some reason it is very hard for me to be that way online. Baring my soul and projecting it out into the ether, are you kidding me?!?! I’m an extroverted introvert, and my inner introvert thinks that would be downright crazy. Why in heaven’s name would I do something so uncomfortable?!
Well… in Heaven’s Name, that’s why! Jesus has been way too good to me for me to keep it to myself. God’s grace and mercy sustains me on a daily basis in a way that continues to amaze me… because, in my flesh, I’m a messy and seriously messed-up person!
And yet… God uses the unlikely to do the impossible (as my Pastor, Ray McKelvy, would say)… often in unconventional ways. So if my inner introvert has to be uncomfortable in order for God to work through me and use my life for his glory, to help bring hope and joy into people’s hearts… so be it.
The brave little girl in me knows that perfect love removes all fear… so I take my Daddy’s hand, look up at Him with a trusting, hopeful heart, and follow along wherever He wants to lead me.
The adventure begins…