It’s funny how the strangest things can make you look back. Looking back is something
that we must always do in order to improve our present and our future. Looking back is
a skill. I say it is a skill because it is as much dangerous as it is beneficial. Looking
back can revive old memories of times long past that were good, fun, or even some that
should remain where they are in the shallow sea of forgiveness that we humans toss
Though they haunt my mortal mind to this day, I struggle each day to forgive those
trespasses against me and move on in spite of the pain that does its best to surface
from that sea and distract me from my true worth and destiny. Sometimes though,
those painful memories can serve a purpose. Remembering where you were, how you
felt, what you were dealing with, remembering the pain and the confusion of being lost…
Those are the things we must always remember when dealing with people. Not
everyone is in the same boat as you. Not everyone has had their world transformed.
Not everyone has escaped their own personal hell yet. It is our job to remember. It is
our job to recognize. It is our job to direct them. It is our job to provide the solution.
Today I realized that I am a churchgoer. Not that that is entirely bad, but from a
leadership perspective, that denotes stagnation, frustration, and a lack of creativity. It
started as a noble idea. The pursuit of excellence in worship. As a member of the
leadership of the worship team in our church, I strive to make things better on a week to
week basis. Let’s backtrack a bit. I believe that our duty as members of the worship
team is to usher in the presence of God, to build the foundation of that mercy seat that
the congregation can use in their personal worship to build upon, the only seat in the
house that is big enough to bear the weight of the Holy Spirit. We had a sampling of it
in weeks past, where we were able to really flow in it and let the Godsong come out.
Somewhere in the last few weeks we lost it, and went into survival mode. Just make it
through the next service. What happened to duty? What happened to the joyful,
fearful, worshipful, excited Levites that we had become for oh so brief a moment? In my
frustration with the state of affairs, I became bitter. I became the person I never wanted
to be. The person that FORGOT. I got wrapped up in principle, strategy, plans, skill
and schedules. In voicing this frustration, I realized that the ME that I am now would
NEVER have connected with the ME that I was. What was the me from 13 years ago
thinking on this day? Where was I 13 years ago? In listening to some songs from that
period of time in my life I found my answer. What was I 13 years ago? Cold. Where
was I 13 years ago? Lost and in rehab. Who was I 13 years ago? No one. What
changed 13 years ago? Someone cared.
There must be leaders in every church, they are the ones that pave the way for those
that come after. They are the ones that have been there, done that, and felt that way.
This is the natural order of things. But, when those leaders forget who they WERE, and
focus instead on who they ARE, the efficiency of the system is lost. I forgot. We forgot.
14 years ago, I thought that God had forgotten about me. Books, poems, and literary
geniuses have tried in vain to put to words the depth of that kind of despair and hurt. It
just is not possible to describe the true feeling of a broken spirit. I thought that no one
loved me. Even those that were close to me I had built self imposed boundaries and
reservations on them to protect me. I carried so many bad memories and dead weight
around with me that no one could break through. Despite the bravest attempts by
others to draw me in, to break down those walls, to discover who I was, I remained
steadfast in keeping those walls intact. I let NO ONE in. I only wanted people to see
the better part of me, never allowing them to see my ugly side. It was a long and
arduous process to allow certain people (whom I treasure most dearly now) to chip
away at the walls of my personal prison.
Allowing those people to begin the process of chipping away at my rough edges was a
decision that I made when I decided to start going to church. It was not an easy one. I
had my privacy to protect, my pride to keep intact, and it was not a process that came
naturally. Through my ever growing faith and the friendships that were formed, I started
to become someone new. This person is still evolving to this day. It is a process that I
both loved and hated, because it meant letting go of what was, letting go of my
securities, letting someone into my life, and allowing the process to start revealing the
man I always knew I could be but never was. All of us have that deep down, but it takes
a certain type of person to turn potential energy into kinetic when it comes to deep
seated character issues.
Remembering this I realized that I have not been the catalyst for anyone else’s change
in my current state of being. Staying focused on the processes, the principles, and the
weight of duty that comes from being on the worship team in the church has turned me
into a Pharisee. I look good on the outside, but getting down to the brass tacks of it, I
influence no one directly. Sure, people say I play good (had your ears checked lately?).
Yes, they say things like “worship was great today, I was really feeling it”… but that is
only half of what matters. When we, as a team, forget to invest in people personally we
are not doing our job. Yes, we play skillfully unto the Lord, and yes we worship Him…
but what about those people in the congregation, or even worse, on OUR TEAM that
are contemplating suicide? What about those that merely want to belong to something,
and WE are all that they have? What about the ones that are completely comfortable
worshipping God, but have absolutely no self-worth? These are the issues that we as
fragile humans must contend with on a daily basis. Especially in the ministry that we
are in, having that human touch and sensitivity to the plight of the individual are KEY.
Sure, our reputation in the outreach is that “Austin has GREAT praise and worship”…
but what are we doing outside of that? Is it really just us? Are we all that matters?
Looking back, I realize that there is not much for the me of today to say to the me of
yesterday. There was no common ground, no sympathy, no empathy, no feeling, no
sensitivity, no leeway, no give-and-take, no compromise…. until today.
Me of today, meet me of yesterday. I am a member of your church. I am new. I have
issues. I have pain and hurt. I have reservations. I have flaws. Embrace me. Love
me. Tell me I am worth something. Tell me you have been there and things get better.
Tell me that this too shall pass. Show me how to let someone in. Lead me, disciple me,
and teach me how to help others just like me… just like you.
This was written at the end of 2014 by my husband as he reflected on the year. As worshippers, ministry overseers, or just Christians, we always need to remember those we are called to reach. We ALL have that calling.