My words were stolen this year; they were hijacked. There were times when the words that came from me rooted in someone’s mind and heart to mean something almost entirely different from what I truly meant. In each instance, I was trying to follow God to the best of my ability, but those words took on a life of their own. It hurt others and nearly destroyed me.
Why? Because God’s plan, design, training, and gifting for my life is for me to bring words based on God’s truth and the Holy Spirit’s leadership to others. Anyone who knows me well knows that I approach this responsibility with great reverence. I never step behind a podium of any kind without knowing deep into the marrow of my being that the word and the other person belongs to God: it is a serious responsibility to bring a word that God has sent. I never want to hear Him wrong, especially if it is something that will challenge one of His children. Their hearts belong to Him, and I never want to get in the way of His work in them. It is so important to me that I only contribute when I am fully convinced that God is pressing me into saying it. I must steward my own thoughts and feelings well enough to stay out of the way of His flow to others.
This year, I began to fear my words. My most foundational fault line (the lie that the enemy has used since my earliest childhood experiences) was that I cause harm simply by being me. It has been one of the hardest lies to overcome, because it was so deeply engrained in my being when I was little. I had learned not to trust myself but to fear myself exceedingly. This year’s unexpected and very painful miscommunications seemed to confirm my foundational fault line: that even when I’m doing the best I can to stay in the firm presence and leadership of God Himself, I will sabotage it and ruin it without even meaning to.
A person who fears themselves becomes a mixed bag of emotions. And they are most definitely unable to move and love freely. Fear is a terrible slave master. I became afraid to say much of anything except positive things because of my uncertainty of how it would be heard; I closed in on myself. I smiled a lot and kept conversations to a minimum. I didn’t share my own struggles and processes. In the deepest parts of me, I want to love others well, and I always want to be pure before the Lord – to the very best of my ability. Not to impress anyone else- no! Because my God is my absolute life-source and the only foundation upon which my life and sanity can rest. I want Him – I NEED Him – so much that I will not sacrifice my fellowship with Him through foolishness on my part. But doubt seized hold of me and fear squeezed me more tightly as the year progressed; I even began to doubt whether I could ever be used by God again. I would rather do nothing than do something that harms.
I did not blog. I did not write devotionals. I did not think I had anything to say that would bless anyone. Bless; that is where the story turns. Back in September, God began to reveal some very important things to me about this year and my experiences. I could see things from a different perspective, and this freed me somewhat. I began to raise my head again and breathe more easily. But still, I wasn’t sure if I should ever really teach in any kind of public way again, for fear that I would inadvertently do harm, rather than allow God’s supernatural power to reach those people. But God has reclaimed the words that were stolen from me through fear. God used the words of Dallas Willard, through his book, “Living in Christ’s Presence” to teach me about blessing. Dallas says, “Blessing is giving yourself and what is good to another person under the invocation of God.” So this is the focus He has been giving me: “Love others with My love,” and “Tammy, bring My blessing.”
Early this year, before the onslaught of Fear, I had a beautifully powerful moment with God in my own quiet time. I was tucked up high on a mountain at Blue Ridge Assembly on the morning the retreat would begin, and I was journaling to God about how painfully aware I am of the heaviness of my humanity. I so desperately wished that these feelings didn’t even arise in me any longer. But they do, and I was pouring out my heart before Him, writing the words with regret in my heart “I am petty, I am too sensitive, I am…” and as I continued my list, He suddenly whispered, “but Faithful.” But Faithful. I wept so long, so hard, and so deeply that morning that my eyes were red and puffy the rest of the day. Every time I thought I was finished, a fresh wave would overtake me. When I finally made it back down the mountain, I saw two women I love very much sitting before a fire, the house still quiet, and I began to weep again. It was an ugly cry. “But faithful…” God had set a caption over this year that I could not hold onto after that because overwhelming fear planted itself deeply within my heart so soon after He gave this gift to me. But He has now reclaimed His word to me, and He is now reclaiming my words that are intended to bring blessing. I am petty, too sensitive, too flawed… but I have been faithful to Him, I am faithful to Him, even though I will always struggle with flaws and weaknesses I wish were more thoroughly sanctified than they are.
God is teaching me that the gifts He placed in my heart must be used for others good and for His glory; I cannot allow fear to hijack them. When I am doing my best to offer myself, and what is good, through the invocation of God, this brings a blessing to others. In myself, I will really blow it sometimes. Having important meetings when I am overwhelmed with exhaustion from serving intensely is never going to be wise. But even in my failures, and even when the enemy scores a few points at my expense, I cannot throw in the towel. After all, I am on God’s team, and His team always wins… no matter how poor a player I am, no matter what.