She had rehearsed her one line for days. And it was an important one too, the opening line. That morning she asked me a dozen questions about how she should smile, what she should do with her hair and which of her shoes looked the most like Pilgrim shoes.
She looked perfect and with script in hand we walked to the bus stop.
Just before she climbed onto the bus she shouted back at me, “You’ll be there right mommy?” “Yes honey, I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” I said and smiled as she rode off to school.
And so at 1:00 pm I made my way to the elementary school for the much-anticipated 2nd grade Thanksgiving performance.
I took a seat in the front row and watched my little girl giggle with nervous excitement as she and her friends watched the parents arrived. They were so adorbs with their hand-made Pilgrim and Indian costumes.
The play began with a song sung by all the kids. And then it was time for my Kennedy’s big line. The one she practiced no less than 3 million times. The one she predicted would quickly send her to the Big Screen. And the one line I was there to hear.
She began strong but about 3 words into the line my poor Kennedy caught a horrific case of the uncontrollable, inappropriate giggles. And so, she flung her paper at her head and said, “Oh my gosh!” Her face turned fire engine red and I could see the tears she was fighting back.
And there she stood for the rest of that 15-minute production with a paper over her face. She. Was. Mortified.
My momma heart sank as I watched my little girl stand before this group fighting her tears. And as soon as the performance was over she ran to me and collapsed into my arms. With tears streaming down her face she whispered, “I messed up mommy, I messed up so bad. And I practiced so hard!”
I tried my very best to console her but she wasn’t having much to do with my, “It’s ok…” pep talk.
The most important moments in life are not the ones we perfect with ease and grace. They are the moments that remind us that we are human; filled with flaws and quirks. Because these are the things that make us, us.
Kennedy Grace is a laugher. It’s what makes her, her. Even though sometimes it comes at the most inopportune time.
We will all have these come-to-the-edge moments where our expectations don’t match the reality of what is happening.
Perhaps the Psalmist who wrote this verse understood this all to well:
“To all perfection I see a limit…” Psalm 119:96
Sometimes we need a gentle reminder about the lies of perfection.
~ When that scale shouts numbers you didn’t expect. Perfection lies. It’s ok to be you.
~ When the mirror shows wrinkles, age spots and acne [despite you being well past your teen years…] Perfection lies, it’s ok to be you.
~ When that makeup product fails to do what it promised you it would. Perfection lies, it’s ok to be you.
~ And when you stand up in front of your entire 2nd grade class and your inappropriate laughter disorder takes over. Perfection lies, it’s ok to be you.
I’ll never forget her 2nd grade Thanksgiving play. Not only because it made me smile but because of the reminder it has given me to let perfection have its place, somewhere else.
Sometimes when I scroll through my social media feeds I feel like there’s a 1000 voices shouting:
Look at me!
My house is beautiful.
My house is a mess.
My marriage is perfect.
My marriage is horrible.
My kids are superstars.
My kids are naughty.
I’m cooking gourmet tonight.
I’m drive-thruing it tonight.
Like, like, like. Share, share, share. Friend, follow, favorite. Unfollow, unfriend, unfavorite.
Oh, what a complicated social media culture we live in.
From generation-to-generation there have always been defining tools the enemy of our souls has used. Things like the mirror, the scale or our financial status. But there’s a new way I see us being defined which is leading a lot of people to a place of discouragement:
Trusting our social media “likes”.
As a struggling writer, I understand this defining tool of the enemy all to well. And I’m seeing that it is something that can become very unsafe to our souls [writer or no writer.]
“A man is a fool to trust himself. But those who use God’s wisdom are safe.” –Proverbs 28:26
I love my social media friends. They offer much support, encouragement and connection. And I love social media as a tool to share life with others we would normally not connect with. It’s so amazing to live in a time where we can say one sentence to a thousand people instantly.
But here’s my struggle: trusting my social media likes is often easier than trusting the voice of God in my life.
Sometimes I hold back what I really feel God leading me to say in fear of loosing followers.
I didn’t start off this way. But all it takes are a few harsh comments. Then, as I sit down to write, I hear those voices. They hold me back from having the courage to say what I know needs to be said.
It’s not always safe to trust our social media likes.
And sometimes I've said things via social media that was a subliminal message to someone instead of having the courage to say it to the person’s face.
Anyone can sit behind a computer and say something anonymously with guts. But having the courage to have a hard conversation with someone privately often feels like a lost cause. Most of the time these bold subliminal messages seem to resonate with people, which makes things even more complicated.
It’s not always safe to trust our social media likes.
But even worse, sometimes I’ve felt less than valued as a writer when I didn’t get all those virtual high-fives for something I’ve written.
Using our “likes” as a tool for measuring what connects with other people isn’t such a bad thing. But we shouldn’t get discouraged when we’ve been obedient to God and it didn’t seem to settle with many people.
It’s not always safe to trust our social media likes.
The reality is I don’t know if we live in a culture that allows us to completely disconnect from all social media. Taking a break from it, stepping back and keeping the right perspective are all great things. But as we engage via social media might we hold close the promise today found in Proverbs 26:28.
It’s not always safe to trust our social media likes but we are always protected when we trust God.
So friend, I pray today we might have the courage to say the things we need to say. Hold close the people we need to hold closely. Let go of the people who don’t make us well. And find our value in trusting God’s voice more than ever.
I had never met this girl before.
Her ears had not heard my God-struggles. Our paths had never crossed. The aches in my soul -she knew nothing of them.
Yet she approached me with a glowing confidence.
“God wants you to just ask Him.”
That’s all she said.
My eye-brows raised, my heart fluttered. Tears filled my eyes.
How did she know?
For days, weeks and even months I had been struggling with my relationship with God. I just wasn’t sure about a lot of things anymore.
Had God really called me to speak? Did He really give me a book idea? Was I crazy to feel like everyone all around me seemed against any and all of my God dreams?
I prayed. I read my Bible. But each time, I had nothing to ask God. The truth was, I was scared. Because, if I asked, then I had to believe God.
How did this girl know I had nothing to ask God?
Who let her into this secret place in my soul?
These questions haunted me throughout the night. The next morning I was cleaning up the kitchen and I came across a note one of my 3 daughter’s had scribbled.
Written in a purple crayon on a pink sticky note, “Did you ask?”
I’m sure it was some meaningless note one sister had passed to another sister. Implying a question like, “Did you ask momma for ice-cream?” or “Did you ask if we have to do the dishes?”
But I paused in this very unlikely moment, sensing the Lord was using this note to give me the courage to…ask.
And so, last week I walked boarded a plane. I flew up the East Coast. Sat next to strangers. Drank Starbucks. And…asked God, a lot of things.
I was heading to speak at event. But I sensed God wanted to do something way beyond me giving a message, I just didn’t know if I had the courage to…ask.
I had this number that just wouldn’t leave my mind. And I really thought I was crazy.
But I’d been hanging around one of my crazy-believing-God-for-everything friends lately and she challenged me to break the bonds of safe-praying I held.
So, I whispered in my soul, “Lord, I believe you are bringing 10 people to this event that need to accept you as their Savior. So God, if I’m not crazy, and my outrageous-believing-friend is right, will you bring these people tonight?”
My plane landed and I felt that prompting again… "Ask God.”
So I prayed this same prayer all over this quaint town. And I believed God, for the first time in a very long, dry season.
That night as I spoke, I stood nervously before these women whose eyes were filled with the sensation of God. I told them I believed God was about to do crazy-audacious things in our time that night. They smiled, nodded their heads and believed with me.
And wouldn’t you know…
Together we saw over 10 women raise their hands to say, “I want a new life in Jesus.”
One of the most powerful things I’d ever experienced.
So, my friend, perhaps you read these words today in a very dry, lonely dark season of life. Maybe you have believed God. Possibly you have trusted God.
And you have felt so much disappointment.
Could I be that girl, having no right to be in your business, encouraging you just to…ask God?
One more time. Crazy ask. Go for it. I’ll believe it with you today.
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” –Ephesians 6:18
Her words were unnecessary.
Her tone was hurtful.
Her finger pointing seemed unfair.
I was hurt and surprised.
When I opened up an email a few days ago, I was stunned at an unexpected reaction someone was having towards me. I’m a pretty emotionally tough girl at heart; it takes a lot to push me towards the edge. But this email quickly ushered me to such a place.
Past her hurtful words though, I knew a Truth was tucked into this email.
It was a Truth I didn’t want to hear.
The thing she was upset with me about didn’t seem fair but this situation also wasn’t my project from God. I knew it too. Week’s prior I had denied His voice prompting me to say “no” to this situation. I got involved anyway.
And as a tear from my hurt soul rolled down my face, I remembered this prayer I had a prayed a few days prior…
“God do what You need to do, to get me to where I need to be.”
These are the words my soul needs to whisper more often. They are words that help me find a godly perspective in situations [like this email.]
Because if I really mean them when I pray them, I will trust that even in the painful situations of life, I will find the promises of God. Those promises lead me towards the places He wants me to go.
The fact is what doesn’t kill us…still hurts.
So while this email didn’t kill me, my soul ached from the words it offered me but even more so from my waywardness towards God’s promptings.
But I accepted the release God offered through this verse:
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5
The most powerful thing in our lives are the promises God offers us through His Word.
This promise helped me to feel the weight of not following that prompting on my soul to not get involved in this situation. And now, this promise is helping me to be able to tune into those promptings of release even more.
Today there is someone on the other side of this screen who needs to let their soul speak these words too:
“God, do what you need to do, to get me to where I need to be.”
Submitting to a prayer like this isn’t easy. But the recognition of God’s voice following the submission this prayer offers is one that makes it all worth it.