Set Apart – Brought Together

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what God wanted me to write about. Unlike other entries I didn’t feel like there was something glaringly obvious. At times a phrase would pop into my head or I would have a dream and so I knew it was something worth writing about. This time it wasn’t like that. Instead I have felt an aching in my heart over a particular topic that I thought I was done talking about and feeling strong emotions for. If I’m honest I thought my first post back post-Colour Conference would be about something amazing. Something impressive. But instead this was something that made me feel naked and empty and not really something I wanted to go into again. But rather than let allow it to potentially stir up anything I have laid to rest I decided this morning that I need to write about it. So here goes.

This week much to my disgust I have had a few dreams where my ex has made an appearance. I say disgust because it has been quite a long time since I’ve thought about him, let alone been invaded subconsciously by him, and it was just the same old tune. Bad memories of things he had said to me or done to me and emotions stirred within me that I haven’t felt since then—abandonment, grief, rejection, worthlessness. I think Jesus has been merciful to me in this area of my life and I believe the deep roots of pain have been healed. However it brought emotions to the surface that showed me I have not regained full mobility of my heart. I am more cautious, I am more guarded for one and there are still things I hide inside of my heart.

This week has been tender in a lot of ways. There are lots of engagements, weddings, births for one. And I think it’s hard as a woman when none of those things are remotely possible for you at the moment. For one I am single–no prospects. So there is no potential relationship that could lead to an engagement, wedding, or birth for starters. Ha! And I think sometimes people fall within those categories: married couples have other married couple friends, one girl’s engagement photographer is now being used by all of her friends who are recently engaged, new mothers are recommending the best products to each other, things like that. And sometimes it feels a little awkward. It’s not even jealousy, it’s just awkward because you can’t relate. You don’t have anything to contribute because you aren’t going through the same kinds of things they are. So on the romantic level it’s just hard to relate.

Then there is all sorts of vacations, birthday parties, impromptu photo shoots with friends, and other Instagram-worthy events and that’s platonically awkward. What I mean is that it occurred to me the other day that I have not had a tight friend circle/best friend since I was 18 years old. So seeing people who religiously hang out with the same group and are invited to everyone’s events feels totally foreign to me. I don’t know what that would even be like. And it’s not for lack of wanting. It just seems like no matter how many groups I’ve tried to be a part of since I was 18–everything has failed in epic proportions. Like instead of groups just growing apart, time after time I was the only one outed. And it was always in a vicious, public way. I specifically remember the most recent group of friends I had, that ended up becoming very catty. It was a mix of guys and girls and although they were Christian I didn’t approve of the way they would treat and judge other people in our church. I didn’t make a big deal of it, but if I was present when something was being said or something was being done I spoke up about it. Well to make a long story short I became a target. I was gossiped about, I was labeled a bad Christian woman, I was e-mailed privately and told that I was someone who must like to start drama and anything I said in the group was picked apart in this message, someone I became interested in dating in my bible study was made a discussion between the two leaders and I was accused of only attending as a means of getting to him, I was strategically uninvited to events that were later plastered on social media and it became clear I was the only one not told an event was happening, friends stopped talking to me, the bible study was terminated–only to find out it continued in private–so I still believe it was merely to remove certain people. That was just one group. In college I had a small group of friends and when one girl told my roommate she didn’t want to be friends with me, she made it her mission to mess with me. I would be alone in my dorm and a group of her friends would yell insults to me through the door knowing I was inside, write mean messages on my white board that I would have to erase, things like that. Prior to that in high school my friends decided on prom night that we weren’t friends anymore and I spent my last weeks of school alone, none of them signed my yearbook, and all of our pictures together online had me cropped out. Those are just a few examples.

None of this is to re-hash or re-live the past. It’s merely to flesh out that I still don’t understand why I’m not included. Not everyone will make a point to treat me so extremely, but even now–I know I am a distant friend to most people. I know I am no one’s “best friend”. I’m also no one’s “crush” or “girlfriend”. Which is odd because I find it very easy to make friends, people are always saying how much they like me and how open I am to people, but it’s not easy to get them to want more. To want to have coffee every Tuesday, to remember to invite you to their party, to think you’re important enough to have a place setting at their wedding. It all honestly feels a little awkward.

“Throughout the Old Testament and even in the New Testament, you will see how the enemy sows seeds of discouragement in the heart’s of God’s people; simply causing them to take a detour from their destiny” – revivenations.org/blog

I believe that is true. I know the enemy is on me in these areas of my life–making me feel discouraged and alone–like I am part of a church, part of a team, part of a family, part of a company–but not crucial. Like everyone has their spot in life and in a social circle and they’re good there. So good that there isn’t room for you. And while John 14:3 is a comfort to me and I know there is a place prepared for me and room for me with my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Family, I would be lying if I said that is enough. It is enough in the broad sense of life and the world but on a human level I would like my friends and family and career to prepare a place for me. I don’t want to just be that funny, nice, or welcoming girl that is the cherry on top of your already wonderful social cake. I want to be one of the layers in that 7-layer cake.

At the second day of Colour Conference, Lisa Bevere said “each one of us is a unique expression of love for the Earth” to be unique is to be “without rival” we don’t need to worry that someone is going to detract from your purpose, talents, etc there is no competition and there is no replacing you. And that really spoke to me. I think sometimes given my experiences it is a fight to understand where you fit in and what your worth is. It’s great that I know my worth for myself but it’s difficult when you believe that other’s don’t. Or they do in a pat-you-on-the-back kind of way but not in the bear-hug-I-want-to-do-life-with-you kind of way. I know that I am unique. I know that I might not always fit in but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I have something additional to bring to the table.
Romans 12:6 MSG

4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with that verse but it’s a good reminder. So often we forget that even if we are not being noticed or appreciated or desired that we do not have a function. But the truth is we always do even if it isn’t time for others to realize it.

1 Corinthians 12

1-3 What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

4-11 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel

clear understanding

simple trust

healing the sick

miraculous acts

proclamation

distinguishing between spirits

tongues

interpretation of tongues.

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

12-13 You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

14-18 I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

19-24 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

27-31 You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:

apostles
prophets
teachers
miracle workers
healers
helpers
organizers
those who pray in tongues.

But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.

But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.

I really love that scripture. I think mostly because it’s so true. Nowadays it’s really easy to focus on “the body” both literally and figuratively. I’m a part of a society for one that glorifies the literal body. Just watch a commercial, or go on Facebook and Instagram and you’ll see it immediately. Pictures of great manicures, beautiful makeup, a toned body, and don’t forget the glorious #Selfie. I’m not a huge fan of the #Selfie. I don’t really like taking photos of myself of my own accord. If I’m in a group fine, if I somehow looked surprisingly photogenic, fine, but for the most part I don’t want to photograph myself. I’m not that great. I think post-MySpace I was just tired of soliciting opinions on my appearance. Tired of taking 20+ photos and then applying filters so they would look more appealing, critiquing how I looked in that outfit, etc. I just didn’t want to focus on something that would make me feel subjected to my own negative opinions or the opinions of others. It wasn’t deliberate but as I’m typing I think that was what I was/am doing. Yes there are beautiful women out there, no I won’t judge you for posting yours, but I didn’t want to set myself up for weekly comparisons. Like oh that woman is beautiful now I need to even the scale and show I am also captivating. And on a figurative note with the church “body” I don’t want to do the same. While I think it’s totally amazing that we are such a creative, talented, technological church body nowadays I think it’s tempting to compare. Like oh that person is a wonderful photographer in church, I need to start taking excellent photos of landscapes when I am on vacation, or that person is a beautiful singer my role as the audio person is not as glamorous, no one notices me. It’s just like the scripture we are all designed to function as different parts of the body. And all are crucial. All are important. All are unique to making sure the body works.

I think it’s good to remind my heart and yours that just because we are unique and may not mirror the talents of what we see around us, even if it is the majority of the church body’s talent–doesn’t mean we need to feel like there isn’t a place for us. If the church was meant to be all worship singers and we just had a bunch of vocal chords flopping around without a neck or a head or a mouth, what would be the purpose? We are all supposed to compliment and elevate one another—not feel less than or feel competitive or feel like we must chameleon to what is around us.

I got a word earlier in the week that said “things that are attacked are what will be blessed” and it gave me hope. So often we feel trapped by the dysfunctions that we’ve come out of or continue to sink in, but if these circumstances and feelings were true then why would the enemy fight us? Wouldn’t he have already won? No, instead the enemy sees something in you that he is threatened by and so he will use the very things you are talented in or called to or will be blessed in to warp your perspective. What are some areas where you feel the most attacked in? What areas have you given up hope in because they are so long dead that it seems impossible for them to come back to life? For me it’s easy:

1. Relationships both romantically and platonically

2. My calling/career

3. My finances

What if down the road my calling has to do with relationships for example. Wouldn’t it make sense for the enemy to warp my perspective then? To use humans and sin to make me believe I am unworthy and undesirable. What if my current job is being used to make me feel like I am unappreciated, unimportant, lost but really my future career and blessing makes the enemy cower and therefore he will use my current circumstances to make me feel like I don’t even know what my worth and contribution is anymore. Think about it. It’s actually pretty brilliant.

Jesus, I am grateful that no matter my circumstances or experiences that you exists outside all things. You have already prepared a place for me in my future beyond my wildest imagination. Although there are times where I feel like an ear looking at a hand remind me that we all have our unique place in Your body even if we don’t understand fully our function. Help us to remember our worth in spite of a world of both non-believers and believers who may praise the external body parts and the obvious talents. I pray that we all remember who we are and desire to reveal that in others. As One body help us to always seek to include those around us so that no part of us is striving and risking fracture, sprain, or any other kind of ailment in an attempt to reach out on our own for either assistance or to be showy. We are enough individually and we are better together. In Your name I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Set Apart – Brought Together

  1. Your misery shall be your ministry! Something my mother always told me!!! I can relate to you in a lot of ways…. Look inside yourself to find the answers as sometimes we have to face difficult truths about ourselves and our ways. It’s not always other people. Or God sometimes prefers that we walk alone to prepare us for something greater. No one will understand nor are they supposed to until God fulfills his purpose in you! Be encouraged.

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