I was asked to be a part of a Good Friday service by a woman who I greatly respect and admire. I am growing as a preacher – am very good with content and am working on delivery because I want to appeal to black church communities. That being said, I was equal parts nervous and excited about this opportunity, which featured seven women in total who were from various faith traditions.
I prepared for the sermon like I do any other sermon. I took time studying, praying, reflecting and writing. As I crafted my message, I felt the Spirit move over and through me. This is a sure sign that I’m operating in my gift and as the words came to life on my manuscript I felt confident that the message that I was given was the one that God had intended.
Then came Friday. Leading up to the worship service, I had fleeting thoughts of insecurity, but I brushed them off. However, when I arrived at the church, every feeling and thought I ever had about not being worthy, not being good enough, not belonging came roaring to life. I literally hid in the bathroom after I arrived because I felt so out-of-place. The anxiety was rising and I though to myself, “How in the hell did I get here? Why do I think that I belong here? I can’t do this.”
It’s funny how these thoughts can sneak up and take over. I eventually left the bathroom and did something I never do. I took off my glasses before going into the worship service. This is significant. I’ve been wearing glass since I was 11 years old. My glasses are my a part of me. I literally removed a part of myself because I thought I would A) look better; B) preach better; C) not see the faces in the crowd and somehow be emboldened.
Let’s just say that none of these things happened and I actually did a disservice to myself and those gathered. Why? Because I tried to be something and someone I’m not. I let the negative thoughts win.
Looking better was irrelevant. I was there to preach and to be a messenger of God to the gathered community. I let my preoccupation with looks and wanting to fit in win. I thought that my normal, quirky self wasn’t enough and that if I didn’t look a certain way, people wouldn’t like me. Did I teleport back in time to middle school? I thought that I was over the superficial…
I went into the pulpit being someone I wasn’t and therefore did not preach with the power that God has given me. I wasn’t my authentic self.
Not seeing the faces of those gathered led to disconnect. How can I truly communicate the love and grace of God without looking at people? I realized that my head was down more than it was up. I was tied to my manuscript and I missed the people because I wasn’t looking at the people.
My sermon content was fine. My delivery left much to be desired. And I realized that the single most dangerous thing for me to do is to believe the voice in my head. To believe that I’m not good enough and to question the gift and calling that God has on my life. God is faithful. The Spirit shows up. But by not embracing myself fully, I in essence tell God, that God is wrong. That God made a mistake. That God didn’t know what God was doing when I was created.
I’ll write more about the shame I experienced after Friday in another post, but suffice it to say, this weekend was a doozy. I’m thankful for growth and for the ability to see what’s happening, reflect on it and move past it. So that’s what I’m doing, learning and living, in spite of the roadblocks, in spite of the negative thoughts.
I will strive to be authentically who I am at all times. I will try to fully embrace myself. I will try to believe that I am worthy. As is.
I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy….
For what it’s worth, it does sometimes happen that the experience of those listening is very different from yours delivering. If the Spirit showed up, the Spirit got through!
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
(Who says Catholics don’t know the Bible!)
I know you probably know all this but, I was moved reading your post and just wanted to share my thought with you.
You are worthy, beautiful and enough.
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