Well, here it is: a post I have been avoiding writing, but one I really feel needs to be written. It's time to rip the band-aid off and share about a lesson learned.
A somewhat humiliating lesson.
Josiah and I have formed a marriage ministry at our church: Compass Marriage Ministry. Last Friday, we hosted our first major event: Dance and Dine Your Valentine. We hosted a dinner and asked a local dance teacher to come in and teach the Tango.
It was SO much fun!
Everyone seemed to have a really good time, and everything went pretty smoothly...except one thing: the speech.
Josiah and I planned to go up and give a little ten minute speech to introduce ourselves, introduce the ministry, and give a little synopsis of what we've covered in our small group on Sundays and what we plan to cover in the next seven weeks.
Sounds okay, right? Well, in theory, yes.
But it was a nightmare. I bombed. It was like this:
It was like a ten car pileup. I kept trying to reign it in and do some damage control, but it was just a disaster. I just couldn't bring it around to where it felt like I was making any kind of point.
I drifted. I wandered. I crashed.
I say "I" instead of "we" because...well...I'm really the one who has more feelings about this. I'm the one who feels like she's supposed to be a decent public speaker.
I'm the one who feels called to speak.
Therefore, I feel like it was me that screwed up. I was given a responsibility, a chance to say something that might make a difference, and I just...lost it.
However, as with any experience, particularly the bad ones, there are lessons to be learned. Those I learned this time are as follows.
First, speaking responsibility shouldn't be shared unless both parties are very familiar with the material. Poor Josiah got material kind of tossed at him last minute, and it made for awkward segues and dropped information. I also assumed we would have two mics, but we only had one that we passed back and forth like a hot potato...ever so professional.
Next, I'll never again speak about what I think someone wants me to, instead of what is actually on my heart to say. NEVER. It was suggested that we speak about the classes coming up in order to create interest in our small group...but that's not what God laid on my heart. Maybe I'll write another blog post about what was actually on my heart, but it wasn't what I spoke about. Therefore, I didn't connect at all with what I was saying. It sucked.
Last, and most importantly, I flayed myself and my qualifications in front of a room full of sixty people. I felt like I didn't belong up there in front of them, so I made jokes about how Josiah and I met in a bar and really weren't qualified, and then tried to talk to a room full of folks who have been married far longer than we.
It was disastrous.
Everyone was very supportive on the comment cards, but one person - a very kind, well-meaning, honest person - commented that they'd like to hear from people with more experience and had been married longer, those with real marriage testimonies.
And he (or she) was absolutely correct in what they wrote. They deserved so much better.
Mind you, we would LOVE to have other people speak: professionals with great advice and people with inspiring testimonies. Nevertheless, the comparison was heart-wrenching.
People want to hear from someone who's qualified...NOT me.
But then...then I remember that God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I knew that (heck, I even said it Friday night), but the meaning of the phrase changed in my eyes.
Somehow, I thought the phrase meant I really didn't have any qualifications, but God called me to do it and, therefore, I am qualified...somehow. But honestly, I hadn't really figured out how.
What I now realize, however, is that God HAS given me qualifications, not just by virtue of having placed me in the position, but by the path he allowed me to take to reach the position.
- He helped me survive a very unhealthy, and sometimes abusive, relationship that lasted over a decade.
- He has given me the opportunity to have five beautiful children, which means I understand what it's like to have a marriage with children at many different stages AND a blended family.
- He led me on the path to Liberty University, where I not only graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Psychology and Business, but I also took classes on Christian Leadership and Christian Life Coaching.
- He gave me a love of knowledge and learning and a passion for marriages, which means I'm devouring every book and study I can on marriage. I have a pocket full of experts I can pull out at any time, and I love to lead people to great information that will help their relationships with God and their spouses grow.
- He gave me the spiritual gifts of teaching and exhortation which, in most circumstances (although not last Friday), gives me the ability to speak well and passionately about what He puts on my heart...when I have the sense to follow it.
- And, He gave me the wonderful intellectual gifts of analysis and introspection, uncommon for many super-extroverts like myself, so I can reach deep into my failures (like this one) and turn it into a lesson that will help me grow, and if I share it, may just help someone else grow, too.
Thus, I am qualified to stand in front of a room and make a speech on marriage because I know all-too-well the pitfalls this world and our sinful natures create for our sacred unions, both with Christ and one another.
God may not have given me the same qualifications as the normal marriage ministry director, but nonetheless, He's given me qualifications.
Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that he could do anything through the strength of Christ (4:13). And in his second letter to the Corinthians he said that God's grace was sufficient for him, and that he would boast about his weaknesses because it was in them that God's power shines through (12:9).
So, there you go. I bombed. But it was worth it just so I could analyze it and come out on the other side knowing that God didn't place me in my position JUST to humble me and show that He has a keen sense of irony, but also because maybe, just maybe, He's given me an interesting set of gifts and experiences.
And that's what I leave you with today. If God has put you in a position, and you feel you have no right to be there, think again. The Creator of the universe put you there, and I'm betting that, while you may not have the typical set of credentials, you have everything you need to do the job that HE set before you.
God has a plan for each of us, works that we were created to perform, that he prepares for us and prepares us for.
So, let's get to it.