I thought I had gotten over this. Really, I thought I did.
Over the last 10+ years since surrendering my life to the cross, I have grown so much in my faith as well as in my relationship with Christ. I have been made new and have witnessed an internal transformation by the Holy Spirit, but still, so much of me is unchanged. The little broken bits hidden in the darkness and buried deep, deep inside the pit of my soul that I want to believe I submitted to the Lord when selfishly I know I have kept them to myself.
I know those tiny shards of sin, brokenness and destruction are there, truthfully, I do, but instead of working on them or allowing the Spirit to conquer and defeat them once and for all I have intentionally chosen to keep them for myself. Consciously or unconsciously, I won’t let go because it is comfortable and familiar. It is a part of me and who I was for two decades of my life. As much as I want to get rid of it and forget about my past [self], I can’t. I won’t. Human life doesn’t work that way and besides, these little broken bits may be sin but they are nothing like the “big, bad sin” that others possess.
Or are they?
Are drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual immorality, and same-sex attraction the same as lying, cheating, stealing, and selfishness?
Is sin a sin?
While I am not going to directly address that last question in this post [that is a whole other blog post for a whole other day!], it does strike up some interesting contemplation. It makes me wonder:
I was hit smack in the face with this reality while attending the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference in Concord, NC [back in 2017].
I had tried to secure a spot at this annual conference for Christian leaders, speakers and writers [since 2015, when I started SG&G], but never got in until 2017. Receiving the email confirmation that my registration was complete made me ecstatic! There was a feeling of unbridled confidence that this must be my year! Otherwise, why else would I have gotten in? I was elated and overjoyed both in the moment of choosing my conference workshops and receiving my registration confirmation in February, as well as in the months that followed leading up to the late July event.
I had high hopes and expectations for the conference. What would I learn? Who would I meet? Would I finally get “discovered” as new writing talent by a publisher? I put such a huge emphasis on that last part that it tainted my mind, and my heart. However, I didn’t consider how much I was expecting something “big” to occur.
Well, something did all right. Something big did occur but it wasn’t in the form of “wow-ing” a publisher with my big, bright idea or out-of-this-world creative pitch. Nope. That is certainly what did not happen. Instead, all of the expectations I had unintentionally set were crushed almost before the conference officially began.
It started the day before I left for North Carolina. I had a sleepless night the night prior because my throat felt like someone was trying to sharpen a knife inside of it. From there, it only got worse. I spent the entire day before She Speakstrying to battle and defeat the ugly beast of a cold that was quickly taking over my body. I took meds, I slept (a lot!), I rested on the couch, I consumed a ton of Vitamin C and hot tea with honey, and most importantly, I prayed for the Lord to heal me. I went to bed early that night but that did not help. I woke up at 4:30am the next morning to get ready for my 7am flight to NC and found myself even more sick than the day before!
This cannot be happening to me! I’ve waited the last few years to attend this conference but really I’ve been waiting my entire life for the moment to pitch my book idea to a publisher!
With a fistful of tissues in my hand and a shot of Ny-Quil down my throat, I fell asleep on the airplane and continued to hope and pray that I would be back to good health once I woke up and landed in NC. Unfortunately, that was not the case and it appeared I was only getting worse. Arriving in NC at 9am and knowing my first publisher appointment was at 2:15pm, I admit I was freaking out. My voice was pretty much shot, I could barely speak, plus my ears had popped on the plane so everything sounded like I was underwater.
Needless to say, my first publisher appointment couldn’t have gone any worse. Yup. I had waited my entire life for that moment and I had completely bombed it.
Why, Lord? WHY?! Why would You bring me here only to let me fail the very moment I have spent my entire life waiting for???
I was crushed. Confused. Angry. Bitter. Drained.
I could not concentrate on the amazing experience that is She Speaks when I felt like I was drifting through life without any aim or purpose.
After spending another day contemplating why I was there and questioning my calling, I finally had hit the low place where God wanted me. You know, the hard ground below the pedestal you elevated yourself on. Yup. I was down there, somewhere amidst the cookie crumbs and cute tote bags that covered the conference room floor when God finally asked me to consider more.
What if the reason I [God] brought you here wasn’t to receive a book deal or hone your craft of writing? What if it was for something MORE?
More? I thought. What could be “more” than receiving a book deal?
Oh, how naïve and ignorant am I for doubting the enormous power of the Almighty God!
It was in the wee hours of the morning on the last day of She Speaks when I opened up my heart to welcoming whatever more God had in store for me. Washing my hair in the shower that morning, I felt the O.M.G. moment of realization of what just happened. You see, the first chapter of my book, which was included in my book proposal, was all about expectations. (Oh, the irony!) I had written about my life’s journey of setting unrealistic expectations and allowing expectations to control my motives, desires, and intentions. Yet, in the quiet of the shower that morning with an open heart and nothing to distract me, I was clearly able to accept the Lord’s invitation for more because I knew by myself I could never tackle the expectations plaguing my life.
Friends, what I learned while attending She Speaks will forever impact me. The chains of expectations that were once locked have finally been broken and set free. I sincerely thought they were unlocked a decade ago and were no longer affecting me, but boy, was I wrong.
Planning and expecting things from life, ourselves and even our Heavenly Father will only set us up for disappointment. God doesn’t fit in a box – He is far greater than anything we’ll ever know and He can do far more than anything our limited human mind can even fathom.
“I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.”Ephesians 3:20-21 (CEV)
I may have learned this the hard way, but ultimately it’s what made me softer, more considerate and more open to God’s way of doing things, His path for my life, and His perfect timing.
The barriers of expectations only put limitations on the great and powerful God. Receiving the gift of surrender and allowing God full control will bring you so much joy as you anticipate the unexpected.
“The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.”Proverbs 10:28 (ESV)