“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” -marianne williamson
We’ve been back in the United States after living overseas now for two and a half months, and I can say I’ve learned a few things I didn’t expect.
I’ve learned that public school is not the evil I once flirted with calling it, and that, actually my kids are happier than they’ve probably ever been.
I’ve learned that launching a new website for missionaries (more on that later) and fundraising for a new ministry means my working hours and my creative words are spent more quickly than I planned, and I’ve seen that the season of fall is really one of God’s best inventions.
I’ve also been listening to myself a lot, especially as I re-enter relationship with people and they ask where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing for the past several years. I wait politely for the shock-value of words like “SouthEast Asia” and “covert investigations” and “counter-human trafficking” and “with three kids” to set in. And I’ve been noticing about myself that there’s a part of me that enjoys that moment in the conversation– that recognition of story that sets me apart, that makes me “brave,” that screams of drama.
I won’t lie–it feels good to be the missionary returning home after a season of noble work. Like badges on a girl scout vest or the trophy after the big game or the leading role in a play. But then pride catches in my throat and makes me want to throw up, and I’m learning the pendulum swings.
Take this week for example. I was crashing a party of another group of beautiful souls with a precious friend, and when the women asked over wine and sweet potato fries what I did, I found myself mumbling and rushing. Hiding and minimizing. Turning the tables and the questions back around, deflecting attention and spotlight.
Because, isn’t that what Christian women are supposed to do? High-tail-it in the other direction when it comes to self-promotion, center stage? Isn’t humility constantly pointing elsewhere, love continually asking the questions rather than answering them?
Maybe. But, maybe not. Because to refuse to tell my story under the notion that to share the dramatic is automatically prideful is the actor refusing to tell the audience which just showed up for Act Two the events of Act One.
To hide my journey out of fear is to throw a blanket over a flashlight, to stick chapters written intentionally on a dusty bookshelf.
And how does that glorify God?
And while my story should never trump the value of another’s just because some of it took place in the realm of the humanly-speaking dramatic, neither should my story be negated for the same reason. Because to refuse to own the journey, regardless of if it might lead to applause or anonymity, is to hide glory that was fought for in the heavens.
Like hanging a Monet low on the wall behind a couch or sticking a trophy of a pumpkin in a closet with the snow boots.
“How do we bring God glory when we are sulking around in the cellar, weighed down by shame and guilt, hiding our light under a bushel? Our destiny is to come fully alive. To live with ever-increasing glory.” – john eldredge, waking the dead
What’s the line between sharing your story and taking center-stage? Am I the only one who struggles with this?
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