I’ve said it before and I will say it again…I am not a public speaker. I am far too emotional for it. I get sad…I cry. I get angry…I cry. I am joyful…I cry. I see someone crying…I cry. And all this doesn’t work too well for me in the midst of speaking to a group of people, trying to share my heart, my faith, my journey.
But God is challenging me and inviting me to embrace that which I am and that which I have to offer. I’m being taught great lessons of humility by doing that which I do not feel gifted in.
At the beginning of the year, God laid it upon my heart to step out in faith, to be more honest and vulnerable. I thought it would be through my writing, through this blog. I thought I would be more vulnerable, but with the safety net of hiding behind a computer screen. I thought I could step out in faith without taking actual steps.
HA! (…is what I imagine God said to all my thoughts!)
Opportunities have been given to me. Opportunities to share my testimony, to preach the word of God, to glorify God with my voice and not just my writing.
was is a scary thing for me.
First, it was giving my testimony during our church’s Ash Wednesday service. Then, just a few weeks later, I (half) joked with my husband about preaching for him during a very busy week. He took me seriously. And, after (much) prayer about it, I did preach during a Sunday morning service. And just a few weeks after that, I gave another testimony, this time at our MOPS group, pouring out my heart about battling depression and how it relates to parenting our children.
It was a day or two after my MOPS testimony that I responded to a friends comment on my social media wall. She wrote something about me speaking more, and my response was along the lines of “well, we’ll see what God has in store…”
The next day, I received a phone call to invite me to speak at a women’s retreat.
I guess that was what God had in store…and I just had to laugh at God’s timing.
The retreat was a spa theme and the message of the weekend was the Psalms. Now, the spa theme appealed to me immediately just because, well, I am a massage therapist. And the psalms…oh, the psalms….
The book of Psalms is one that speaks to my soul. Where other books of the Old Testament confound and confuse me with their family lineage litanies and abundance of laws, the Psalms give me peace by speaking of the Lord’s faithfulness. The psalmist vacillates wildly from hope to despair, from joy to depression. The psalmist groans in agony, shouts in anger, and dances in praise. The psalmist sings of thanksgiving and contentment, even in the midst of persecution and pain. Psalms is the book I seem to turn to when my own soul is weary, when I need to find refuge in the Lord. The Psalms bolster my faith and reassure my heart that the Lord is indeed present and is victorious, even in the darkest of days.
Though I had some anxiety in saying yes to the invitation, I am so glad that I did. The weekend brought rest for my weary soul, and filled me with some life-giving refreshment for the desert my heart has been in.
I struggled with what to focus my message on. The psalms are so rich in their wisdom, so beautiful in their songs. The vast array of emotional content all resonates with me. I knew, however, that my tune would be more of lament, if only because my heart has recently been in a season of twisting and turning and confessing and recognizing the broken bits within me. In my vulnerability, I am learning to speak of the darkness in my soul, the hurt in my past, and through that, I have found a community of those who have also traveled upon this broken road. In pouring out my heart, I have begun to initiate conversations and confessions, and have been richly blessed by them. There is healing that can happen when we are honest about our journey, because we find brothers and sisters who have been on the same walk. We find kindred spirits, those who can attest to the goodness of the world and the pain of broken hearts. In authentic, loving conversation we can find mercy, grace and love and experience a deeper knowledge of the Creator.
If you haven’t spent much time reading the Psalms, I would encourage you to do so. Let them minister to your heart. I will admit that I struggle with reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament. But the Psalms are one of the few places that I go back to over and over again, because it always seems to refresh and renew me. These are the songs of joy and heartache, defeat and victory. These are the choruses of praise and thanksgiving. These are the words of longing for the Lord that resound deeply in our souls.
And with every breath, I praise His name
…and I will continue to embrace the opportunities He provides.
For those of you who may be curious, you can find my retreat message here.