I had the privilege to speak at a women’s conference this last weekend, and in a way that only God could, he intervened on my topic. Which made me very nearly terrified.
The theme of the conference was “Patterns God is Weaving in Our Lives” and after going through several topic ideas, I realized I wasn’t particularly passionate about any of them. I could speak on them, with some measure of authority, but I was fearful that it wouldn’t come from the heart. (Which is a miracle in itself, because two years ago I don’t know that I would have been in tune with myself enough to understand the importance of speaking on a topic that matters to you – and how that makes your talk so much better.)
Enough with the suspense – my talk was Patterns of Love: Vulnerability and the Lavish Love of God. Now, of course, with the word “vulnerability” you have to know that Brené Brown’s material comes into play, though I used almost nothing of her’s in my talk. She mostly just inspired me to do the talk in the first place. Reading Brennan Manning’s The Signature of Jesus last summer and going through the Sonship study though World Harvest Mission also inspired me. But what was beautiful and appropriate was just how much scripture I was able to use. There was a lot of it, and there is a lot more in scripture that tells us just how much God loves us.
Here is probably the most important truth I’ve taken from this last year, as well as the most terrifying truth I’ve ever faced:
You are completely known and loved by the God of the universe (anyway), and to feel and understand that kind of love on earth you have to let yourself be known by others.
[can you hear my screams?]
Today I learn some information that is causing me to question much of what I thought I knew about a person, and a family unit. It makes me so fearful of what we can hide from each other just because we are afraid.
There is a lot about myself that I dislike. A lot. It’s not pretty, really. It’s shameful. And a couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a sermon that will haunt me for the rest of my life, but also reaffirmed everything I learn in 2013 about love. This was the money quote:
“Nothing drives shame away from the heart more than being fully known yet still delighted in.” – Matt Chandler
I am still reeling from the truth and consequences of this statement. Because I know it to be true after everything I’ve learned this last year.
So I’m trying to hard not to be afraid anymore. I’m trying to be more honest. I’m trying to very hard to let others know me. Because I don’t want this shame. I don’t want to live my life and after it’s over, have people wonder if they really knew me.
Back in college, I was introduced to a band called Waterdeep, and I became obsessed. The lead singer, Don Chaffer, put out a solo album before the band was formed and here are some lyrics from that album:
She said, “Aaron, I don’t think
I’ve ever wanted as much
To be free as I’ve longed to be known….
I’ve never intellectualized, until this last year, that you would lose your freedom if you were known. I imagine the theory behind this is that you would be bound in being known because the weight of that truth would crush you. And perhaps that the world sees “freedom” in the control that we desire to have in letting people know only so much. Because it we were completely known, there would be nowhere to hide.
This is really what it comes down to, isn’t it? We try so hard to control what people know about us, partially because of the shame we feel about who we really are, but also because we have a pre-conceived notion that people will only like parts of us and not all of us.
…And of the things that I hate
As I look at my life,
The worst is my being alone.
This is the consequence of finding your identity in others, and not in Christ. Being alone as the only person who knows you, other than God, from whom no truth can be hidden.
…And as they headed home, neither of them could speak a word
And they held their own spirits to blame
But at the pulse of the waves, they both turned around
Surely someone was calling their name
God is calling us not just to know him, but to know each other. Because if grace and love prevail, knowing each other will not result in shame and judgment, but in, “I see you. Me, too. Let’s walk through this together.”
“you have to let yourself be known by others”
Wow. Such a vital link. To be known by God involves a transparency and vulnerability to others. Wow.
Did they record your message Stephanie? Is it online? It would be great to hear it.
Thanks, Bob. It's not online yet, but will be soon I hope. You can hear most of my talks on my main site: stephanienels.com
Just listened to “I Didn't Sign Up For This” Stephanie. Love it!
Aw. Thanks! That was a sermon I preached last summer. 🙂