Sunday, February 25, 2007

Finding my voice

Today my friend judy came up to me after church and said, "You have such an amazing, strong voice." I thought at first she was referring to my singing, and since she didn't sit anywhere near me during worship, i thought.. "whoa. i must have been singing way too loud... and kind of bad." but she went on to say that when i have things to say, they are good things. and not just good... but good. Things full of truth and insight... things that others need to hear. and she went on... she said, "maggie, you stay quiet most of the time... but when you do say something, it's something that others need to hear. you need to use your voice. you have thoughts worth hearing."

all i can say is... wow. this is something that has always been a struggle for me... i know that i have strong opinions, but i tend to live in this place that tells me that others will think what i have to say is juvenile, or stupid, or worthless, or won't make sense. or that my thoughts won't make a difference. I have a really hard time believing that what i have to say will make a difference... or that i have a voice worthy to be heard.

but i was reminded today that i do have a voice, thoughts put in my head by my Heavenly Father to do good things. I am often tempted to downplay what I think, wanting to reject what goes through my head. But my friend Judy has so lovingly reminded me that it's just not true. and when i reject my own voice, perhaps i am rejecting receiving from God, and from giving to others what God has given to me to share.

it strikes me that it's all part of a process of trusting the Creator with how He has created us. Self-deprecation can be so deceiving, and what may feel like humility is exactly the opposite.... looking to our own failings more than we look to our Father. Knowing that I have something worthwhile to say... something that others might listen to... wow. this floors me... all a part of the process of understanding God's purposes for me, i suppose....

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

a narcissistic faith?

i know that i'm in seminary/grad school, but i try not to use 5 dollar words a lot. however, narcissism is one that i like a lot. it sounds cooler than just saying selfish. and i've been thinking about this a lot... how i tend to view my life and my story as more important than the lives of others. i've been praying recently for God to help me get outside of myself, to truly place myself in the shoes of those around me... to not think just from my own perspective, but from the eyes of folks around me.

last week in one of my classes, Dr. Kiesling posed this question to us: Has evangelicalism contributed to the narcissism of our age? Does the church's mission point to the cross, or to individualism?

in mulling over this question, i started thinking about the language we use in the church. Receive Christ for yourself. Accept Him in your heart. Make Him your personal Lord and Savior. These statements conjure up images of having a little Jesus action figure that i can put in my pocket and pull out when I need Him. Isn't God bigger than that?

Dr. Kiesling suggested that the language we should perhaps be using when one decides to be a Christian is to "follow Jesus." This, to me, speaks of the difference between trying to fit God into my life versus deciding to make my life about God.

How do I get rid of all this "I" language while still caring for and acknowledging the creation that is Maggie? How do I make the Kingdom of God my end goal? What does it really mean to follow Jesus... to follow this One I cannot see, cannot touch... but that I trust in? What does it mean to pour out my heart... to empty all that is important to me onto the feet of Jesus?

I've realized that recently it's been difficult to sit through worship services, where I feel like I hear the same thing i've been hearing for many consecutive weeks. How does this thing, this movement, this life in the Kingdom stay fresh and alive? And in my desire for spiritual moments, I realize that I've got some spiritual selfishness i need to deal with. Will this cycle never end?

Any thoughts?

peace and blessings to all who enter here,