Be free

Have you ever felt uncomfortable in your own skin?  Felt like you don't belong?  Felt insecure and closed off?  I know I have.  In fact, sometimes I feel so insecure, it's hard for me to go anywhere.  I sometimes feel like I just don't measure up or fit in anywhere.  If you are reading this and you personally know me, you may be surprised to read this.  But it's the truth.  It's something I have struggled with since I was in middle school, probably starting around age 10. 

I have a vivid memory of being in front of the bathroom mirror for a very long time around 5th or 6th grade before school started and trying to fix my hair so it looked "just right".  I remember not liking myself or how I looked.  I didn't feel like I was pretty, so how could anyone else?  I didn't want anyone to look at me, and I knew if I left the bathroom, someone would see me.  I felt ugly to say the least.  I don't remember how long I stood in front of that mirror, but I do remember how I felt. And I have vivid memories of being frozen in fear and insecurity like this many other times in my childhood and young adult life...High school sporting events where I'd hide in the bathroom for way too long so that I could talk myself into walking back out and not being too nervous to be around others and be subject to their judgment of me somehow.  Being nervous to walk into the school cafeteria because I didn't want anyone to notice me...How could I be so young and already feel so badly about myself?  Looking back, I know there were people in my young life who said careless things to me that definitely contributed to this, but overall, I still am surprised how deeply I felt these emotions since I grew up in such a loving home with encouraging parents.  Yet, there I was.  Time and again, struggling with myself..and I would struggle with that for many years to come.  

If you're being honest with yourself, you've probably felt this way at some point in your life too.  Maybe it's not about your appearance.  Maybe you've felt insecure about what side of town you grew up on, what car you did or didn't have, whether or not you graduated from high school or college, that you're single or divorced despite your best efforts and deepest desires, that people know about huge mistakes you have made in your life, and the list goes on and on.

Whatever it is, I'm here to say that this is not what Jesus wants for you.  Or me.  Or anyone for that matter.  Jesus created us in His image and how He sees us is what is true--not the way we see ourselves, not the way others may see us or the way we think we are being viewed.  Jesus has given us a spirit of freedom--to be who we are in our own skin.  To not worry about what others may think of us.  To only be concerned with what He thinks of us, how He sees us.

When I have the fortunate opportunity to be a guest worship leader and/or guest artist at churches, I especially notice when people in the congregation don't seem to feel this freedom. The freedom to worship with complete abandon.  The freedom to be themselves and relax and just be in the presence of the Holy Spirit and not worry about what the person next to them is doing or may think of them should they raise their hands up in worship.  Again, this is not what Jesus would want for us.  In Christ, there is complete freedom.

Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of leading a lovely congregation here in northeast Ohio.  One morning, I noticed a tiny and adorable little girl in the front row off to my left.  She wore a cute little sun dress and during worship, she was dancing and smiling in front of everyone--completely unaware of anyone or anything else around her.  She was cuter than a button.  And more importantly, she was free.  She was being herself without a thought or care of what anyone else thought of her.  I saw her and was so, so deeply moved, as was my band.  We all talked about her and the way she was worshipping after our set.  

I hesitantly decided to bring attention to it to the rest of the congregation when the song was done and before we played our next song in the worship set.  I felt compelled to tell everyone about this beautiful little girl who was worshipping her little heart out with complete abandonment of self.  She wasn't old enough to be tarnished by the things of this world and the ugly thoughts that can creep in about ourselves and others as we age and go through life.  This little girl's worship was simply so pure, so innocent, so beautiful.  She was free.  

Her name is CC and she will always have a profound impact on me.  And I'll always want to continue to tell others of the way she was in all the services I led there over the past few months.  It was beautiful to witness.

And guys, I really truly believe this is what Jesus wants from us in our worship.  To be real with Him.  To give Him all of our hearts in worship--mind, body, soul.  To forget about those around us and what they may be thinking or doing.  To just let go and focus on Him and what His truth about us is.  To let Him speak to us.  To really reflect on the incredible love He has for us.  To let go.  To love ourselves and let what Scripture says about us ring true within us.  To be free in Him.

So when you have those moments, days, weeks, months where you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, remember what Scripture tells us:

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

- 2 Corinthians 3:17

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. - John 8:36

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  - Philippians 4:8

Sending you much love!  Thanks for stopping by.