Lovely Baggage... & what it feels like to let it go!
So yesterday I attempted to give a bit of a "Wrap Up" of my retreat weekend... it was not complete because the work He is doing is not complete. Things are still shifting and settling and I pray the same is true for all of the lovelies who attended "Time to Fly!" As I mentioned yesterday, I had agreed to teach a workshop on prophetic art and had been doing my prep work, when I realized that somehow, I didn't feel nervous. Now, don't get me wrong - I love to teach. I normally love the whole process of it, but I also know that in recent years I tend to battle between over planning and over prepping, to being open enough to allow Him to completely change directions. I felt I had done the footwork ahead of time and was ready to keep things loose enough to give Him room. Easy peasy... no stress. My biggest snag was the fact that I am still not quite standing tall in the title of "Artist" and so teaching an art class to people stirs up my insecurities and the fall back default of comparing myself with others... potential 'real' artists, etc. I felt like I was taking the majority of those thoughts captive and had a handle on it when I shared last week with my small group a prayer request to cover the upcoming retreat. We have been trying something new in our group. We each take a chance to talk - and everyone else listens. I mean, really listens. Then they talk and tell us what they heard... or often times, what they heard that was in fact not said! So - after I shared my plans for the week and tied it all up in a bow, what she sat across from me and had the boldness to say is, "...but still, underneath it all - I hear fear." Ouch! Really? Still? Sigh... I have lived and tried to walk out this Christian life now for over half of my own years. I don't want to pat myself on the back too quickly, but given how far I have come... I know how much freedom from fear I walk in now. However, Fear is tricky... he can wiggle his way back in to the back of your thoughts, to the corner of your decision making and not even make a sound. But just hosting his presence back there in the dark, invites him in to whisper loud, to cause to hesitate and question, to shrink back rather than to lean in. I give God all the glory for the work He has done in me... and it is quite amazing how He has managed to change my natural bent from one of worry and doubt, to one of faith and trust. But I am human... and so when my friend pointed out that underneath all my faith talk - she heard the faint whispering influence of fear... well - I didn't realize he was tagging along again! She said, "What do you think it would feel like to step out without fear?" Simple question, right? One would think - because I had thought I was already doing it - that it would be an easy answer! Instead of just coming up with past feelings, I decided to lean in... to do some Listening Prayer and ask God what He thought it would feel like to step out without fear. After all, HE should know more than any of us, right? So I slowed down... I made myself be quiet... be silent in my mind and be present in my spirit... and I pondered, "What would it feel like... to do - anything - without fear?" At first all my 'knowledge' came running through my mind. Fear is the opposite of Faith and they cannot operate together... perfect love casts out fear... etc. (This is not a new battle!) Then, again - I asked Him. "Lord, You and You alone know... what is it like to operate in something new without the presence of Fear?" His answer? "It feels a lot like Peace and Joy, hanging out together!" Well... I like that. I like that a lot! So I decided that was my goal for this God-Sized Dream weekend... I could already see how Fear had quietly slipped in to my luggage and had plans of going with me on this Retreat. But I kicked him out... left no room for him in my bags (quite literally... clearly I am not a Missionary!?) I am a huge fan of Peace and I LOVE hanging out with Joy... so the two of them together? Well - I had to know how that felt! Let me tell you, it felt pretty amazing! It feels like you are stepping into your God-Sized Dream, knowing it is not really about you - but you are invited to play along. It feels like giddy love, and silly faith. It feels like sunshine warming my skin and water refreshing my spirit. Peace and Joy are two of my favorites and to get to hang out with them both together is my new favorite gathering. They make anything seem possible. You see, even in the classes on art that I was teaching - Fear comes in because we don't kick him out! No - instead - we are oh so quick to come into agreement with him. And when we come into agreement, we are pretty much saying, "Come on in and stay awhile." Fear is lazy... once he's there... well - he's not leaving on his own! I am an Artist. I am. Because I am created in His image and Man, if He isn't Artistic, right? Now - I am not trained and I do not have skills that will amaze and astonish you. However the purpose of the workshops were to teach that it is not about skills or talent to draw, but about remembering and tuning into the fact that we hear Him speaking and we can share what He is saying. The women in that class came from all backgrounds and some were very gifted and skilled... and others were not... but ALL prayed, ALL heard from God and sketched something out that they could not have known - and every recipient was blessed beyond measure! Every woman in those classes walked away feeling more loved, more understood, more safely sitting in the palm of His hand... and THAT is what the workshops were all about! I think we make it so hard, when Jesus already made the way easy. He already paid the price and He shows us the way. Now I am not saying life should be simple and no difficulties trip us up. It's already 8:30 a.m after all - and I am up and out of bed. Life comes at us... hard and fast some times, and I think the way we make it hard is... well - is like this: We get so focused on ONE thing... ONE short coming or ONE obstacle... often it is just ONE lie of the enemy, and we can't see the bigger picture!
But when we can slow down... breath in deep, and recognize that maybe - just maybe - we have been listening to the loud whisperings of Fear over the songs of Love that He sings over us... maybe then we will be able to see the bigger picture and remember... He's got this! He is ALL IN with us... as long as we let Him be!
THEN we can see what we should have been seeing all along! The beauty that is all around us! We can count gifts, as Ann says, even in the midst of hard times - because our perspective is bigger... we remember that whatever we are facing, our GOD is Bigger and He can be trusted with whatever concerns us today! We must kick Fear out... and don't think just because you kicked him out - he is gone. (Insert "You think he's gone? He's never gone!" reference.) He is consistently looking for a way back in. While he is LAZY once he's in... when it comes to getting in to our heads in the first place, he is diligent and sneaky and persistent. It's his JOB... however, we have One who works harder, and He has won. His way is better and when we make room for HIM in our every day lives... when we look to Him and focus in on His Voice... well, it's like we invite Peace and Joy to come on in and stay awhile!
To sit back and relax with us... or to join us for a cup of something yummy...
And once Peace and Joy show up - well - they have a group of LOVELY friends, and it can turn into to quite the party! So what about you? Do you find that Fear has once again slipped in unaware? Do you battle that onslaught of What If's and If Only's? The soundtrack of all the things that can or have or may go wrong? Let me gently wrap my arm around you and lean in... let me encourage you to pray and ask God what it would feel like to not operate with Fear calling so many of the shots! I can honestly say that this weekend - even in the midst of 'opportunities' to panic... Peace and Joy are good company and they kept me calm... reminded me that they belong with me, with Him, with us - and that I am not stepping out alone. He is leading... and He is there. Fear had no access back in. It is so much better to leave him behind! Praying you find the strength to kick Fear out and the blessing of hanging out with Peace and Joy today! ~Karrilee~ Linking up with #TellHisStory and Jennifer Dukes Lee this week!