I’ve spent 29 years of my life asking God why I was put on this earth, and the last few, telling Him all the reasons why I couldn’t possibly do it.
I’ve contemplated making a run from God’s call on my life, too many times to count. Much like all the times I hid in the bathroom to escape gym class in Elementary School.
I just couldn’t do it. I missed kickball tournaments, field days, and square dancing. All because I was too afraid of what my peers would say, of how athletically incompetent I might prove myself to be, when inevitably, some sphere of death would be hurled unmercifully in my direction. (I’m also, legit, afraid of balls. But that’s another story for another time.)
So there I stayed, in the bathroom, nearly every day, studying the barely legible choice words that were littering the lavatory walls I had locked myself in, while the shouts of my classmates echoed from the gym.
Though I rarely hide in bathroom stalls anymore (praise!) I realized this week, the reason I most often feel like running from what God is asking me to do, is still the same as it was while cowering on the commode all those years ago:
I was, and still am, debilitating afraid of the critic.
Oh, the critic.
I have come to know them well these days…
Over the years, I’ve told you all about the notably, er… creative ways in which people have criticized me due to this blog. I’ve had moms call me out at play dates, and readers contact my husband’s boss, telling him, and I quote, “I’m not even sure how she could be saved.” (Yep, it happened. And yep, fun fact: I am.)
Nothing is off-limits it seems.
Just this last week, I was told my blogging is $%*#, (their words, not mine) and that I’m an awkward person to be around. The same person went on to tell my husband that I, his wife …his person… have publicly humiliated and shamed him in my writing, saying, “yah know, everyone is talking about it…” thus, attempting to create hysteria, I suppose. (Well played, hater. Well played.)
And that’s all it took – three insults – to send all the feelings of longing to retreat to the bathroom, swarming around me again. The word, awkward, humming through my brain throughout the day, and making me feel just as uncoordinated and incapable, as I was in the third grade in my P.E. shorts, and my navy blue Adidas.
For a moment, I considered what it would look like to walk away from what God is calling me to do.
Stay small, a voice whispered. Don’t make waves. Just sit down, bow out, and hide in the bathroom if you have to. It’s safer there, and all the unworthiness you feel will melt away.
To which God stepped in and set the record straight, saying (on the contrary),
In the book of Acts, Paul is – quite literally – taking a beating. The critics are coming at him from all sides, and they’re dragging him outside to hurl cruel insults and accusations at him. So much so, it says, the backlash ‘became so violent that they were afraid they would tear Paul apart, limb by limb.’
Pause. Have you ever felt so attacked, your character so demeaned, that you felt as if you and your life’s purpose, were at risk of being ripped to shreds, literally picked apart limb by limb?
For me, it seems if I so much as even (think) about writing, that unprovoked and biting criticism, like vultures, will swoop in, to obliterate any courage I thought I had (or for that matter, any courage I had mustered up enough to fake.) Limb by limb, it feels as if my calling is being ambushed. Insult after insult, my character hounded.
But in Acts 25:10-11, Paul says 5 words to the haters (And they’re the same words God instructed me to say to mine.)
* Note: If you’re one of my haters, lean in, would you? It’s simple, really… *
Paul said, “I’m going to keep standing.”
I’m going to keep standing… even when everyone is attempting to tear me down.
I’m going to keep speaking… even if it means my voice trembles when I’m nervous, and every word out of my mouth seems to infuriate the masses.
I’m going to keep writing… even when the finished product is laden with feelings of inadequacy and misplaced commas.
And I’m going to keep showing up to the plate, each and every day… unwavering even when my inabilities prove the critic right, and unrelenting until the day God’s power unleashed in me proves everyone wrong.
Today, God is asking us to look straight in the face of everything – and every one – who has threatened to muddy and disorient our belief in ourselves and the One who has called us. He’s asking us to unflinchingly declare never to back down; never to be silenced. To refuse to be coerced into becoming small, and to never, even consider, sitting down in the name of being compliant.
“Get back on your feet, and get the hell out of that bathroom!” God said to me this week, “Its time to take hold of My purpose for your life once again. Relinquish it for no one!
You’re life is too significant to sit on the sidelines anymore. Especially, for the sake of the critic hurling insults, like stale popcorn, down from the cheap seats
— So, keep standing. “
And with every word that I type, I am. — Will you?