I'm about to take you down the strange, winding rabbit hole that is the way my insecure mind works. Ready?
Two years ago, I got to teach my church's weekend women's retreat. I'm a "free lance" speaker, not on staff at a church, and getting hired by your own church to teach is pretty thrilling. Often one can feel kind of like a prophet in their hometown. (See John 4:4 for Jesus' thoughts on this.) God moved powerfully that weekend and I felt humbled and proud and also very, very loved by my church body.
And then the next three women's retreats, I didn't get asked to teach anything. Not even a breakout workshop. I felt, well, lame. And left out. And guilty for feeling lame and left out. So I tried in my own will to overcome the feeling. I went to last year's fall retreat -- which they call Warrior Camp -- and the best way I can explain it is that for the first night I tried to be small and quiet. I tried to show them -- whoever the heck "they" were -- that I could be a team player, and show up when it wasn't about me at all, and do and say all the right things and receive and be humble.
I'm feeling a little vulnerable right now admitting this on the internet.
On Saturday morning, I went to a Holy Yoga class -- which is basically like worship, meditation and yoga rolled into one. While upside down, I heard God's voice.
"Stop being so careful," God said. "You're not a rule follower. That's not how I made you."
I just love God. Because I think I know myself, and what's bothering me, and what my problem is, and He has a way of telling my who I actually am. He's loving, kind, but also firm, like a grandfather with bushy eyebrows that looks a little scary but you know really adores you and thinks of you as the light of his life.
I'm a first-born child and a recovering codependent. Which means that nurture -- environment -- shaped me into someone who tries to do the "right thing," read the room, and figure out what is expected of me. Sometimes this training turns me into a kind of cranky old lady type who wants other people to obey all the rules too. By in my heart, in my gut, I'm actually more of a big, fat, goofy, rebellious type of person.
So, I know what God was really saying to me. He was saying, "No one cares how you are acting but you. No one is thinking about you but you. Nobody wants you to get smaller than you are. Now go have fun and be you."
I walked out of that yoga room with my arms swinging high. I walked around "camp" for the rest of the weekend feeling at ease with myself. And I'm not kidding, three people that day said something to me about how young and free I looked and acted. (In your 40s, it's exciting when people say this to you.) They meant it as a compliment, and I took it as such.
Tomorrow, I leave for Warrior Camp again. And my church didn't invite me to teach (though I taught a class last week, and start another five week class on Monday; I freaking teach all the time.) I get a weekend off. And, by some divine providence, I was in the right place at the right time on the church patio a few weeks ago, and got invited to join the comedy improv team for Saturday night -- the comic relief at the end of what will probably be a serious, emotional day. Isn't it fun when God is so very clear?
Last night our team got together to film a Carpool Karaoke-style intro to our act. (Coming soon on social media.) Our name is the Caffeinated Comedy Team. And because the theme of the retreat is "Declared," I made our team coffee cozies with a declaration: "I am funny."
So I'm off to be who God says I am: My complicated, silly, wise, funny, compassionate, imminently social self. I don't know who God says you are, but I'm guessing insecure, small neurotic and "careful" is not it. So how about you go boldly be your self too?