The struggle is real…and that’s okay. Just in case you’ve never been acknowledged in your struggle, I wanted you to hear it from me. Now that I have your attention, I’d like to talk to you for a bit. This may touch a very tender part of your heart, but I promise it’s worth it to stick with me until the end. This post is a call to action of sorts and is meant to encourage your heart and motivate you to move your feet toward meaningful action. To take some pressure off of you, I’ll start.
What happens when God releases you but you’re too afraid to walk in freedom?
Over the last few months, God has been making it clear to me that He has released me in certain areas of my life to walk in territory that I was once kept from due to His pruning hand of protection. He had been doing a work in me that needed to be completed before I could safely walk in true freedom. It has been a journey that has taken me down many roads I never saw coming and revealed parts of myself I never knew existed. To sum it up in one word, it was cleansing.
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Perhaps in recent weeks, months, or years you have, like me, been wondering where your place is in all the work that still needs to be done regarding the reunification of humanity. Sometimes, when we have a particular burden on our hearts, God is calling us to be the very answer we wish existed to the problem(s) we observe. Other times, we are so busy expending our energy and efforts in the various areas we feel drawn to that we bypass the vacant spaces that await our awakening to God’s call on our lives to fill them. God’s purpose for the body of Christ is to be the example to a hurting world of what unity is and how His love is to be effectively expressed.
I found myself drawn to the passage that we will study together today. My hope is that, through our deeper exploration of this passage, we can better identify the unique part each of us can play in the larger charge to be the light of the world and embody the love of Jesus through our unique gifts, imparted by the Holy Spirit. The way that we operate in our gifting is how we honor God and bring glory to His name. While this is a popular passage within the church for its identification of spiritual gifts, one additional lens has been used to help us broaden our scope of the message Paul shares. For anyone unfamiliar with him, Paul is one of the New Testament (NT) leaders, called apostles. The heading of the passage in question, “Unity and Diversity in the Body,” already speaks volumes in itself. Let’s dive right in.
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There is something about movement of the body that can express what words simply cannot. My entire life, I have gravitated towards dance as a form of emotional expression, often without realizing it. When there were no words, I would turn on a song that belted them for me and move my body until I didn’t have any energy left. I remember wanting to join ballet but never having the opportunity to fulfill that desire. I also used to love watching figure-skating, often adorning socks and “skating” around my kitchen on the tile floor, pretending that it was ice. I also kept a Michelle Kwan poster on my bedroom door, which is one of the few, if not the only poster I’ve ever put up. Similarly, I have always loved wearing heels. So, naturally, I would put them on during some of these dance sessions and I would follow along with my favorite music videos of that era. I “performed” in my room for hours on end and what I now realize was an audience of One. God has been with me along this journey and has helped me to understand my emotions through the songs I gravitated to in each season.
During one season, R&B was my dominant genre of choice. All of the relationship-focused and break-up songs expressed deep, painful emotions that I related to on multiple levels. I remember distinctly, listening to “Too Little Too Late” by JoJo and weeping in my room with only the thought of my mother and how empty I felt without her. While those lyrics never seemed to match up to anything I was going through at the time, that song encapsulated those emotions and still brings that memory back a vividly as if it happened yesterday. In another season, I heavily gravitated to music by Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Green Day, and Evanescence. That season, which ebbed and flowed throughout my adolescence, represented a persistent depressive state where I couldn’t feel anything but emptiness, pain, and anger. I loved the energy of the music because it helped me to express what I was never able to otherwise. Beyoncé was a major influence of mine at that time and I would dance my heart out to songs like “Crazy In Love” and “End of Time.” Performance has always been in me, it was just hidden behind all of the weight of my insecurities and the pain of my childhood.
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And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
-Isaiah 6:5-8 ESV
In this passage, the biblical prophet, Isaiah, went from insecurity in his present circumstance to boldness through swift obedience. There was a crucial process that occurred in the few lines between those two versions of him. His lips were touched with burning coal (he went through a refining process, brief but transformative) and life-giving words (blessing) were spoken over him. In that blessing, he was made aware of the purpose of the process, which encouraged him to let go of the guilt he felt and step confidently into his calling.
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It always begins with one step. Obedience. Trust. Curiosity about what is missing in our lives…
For me, this landed me on the topic of femininity. It has been something that influenced my early years more than I previously realized. I recently remembered the details of my mother teaching me manners and etiquette as well as instilling in me some important truths about life and carrying myself with dignity and respect. Not every woman has been able to have these experiences with their mother or another female caretaker in their life. For those moments, I am grateful, but there are some other truths that I had to face in light of these memories.
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