Last night I facilitated the start of a new life group.
My husband is so awesome. He did everything I asked him to do.
We had food, and food, and more food. He cooked everything on the BBQ for me. He sliced up the veggies for everyone’s hamburgers, and displayed them very nicely on a platter.
He put together all the gift bags I wanted for everyone to have, that included their Participant’s Guide, a journal, a pencil and a couple pieces of candy.
Everything was set up perfectly. The kids had done their chores and the house looked nice.
By the time our first guest arrived, I was happy. I was satisfied.
But I was still nervous. I was still afraid. After all, even though everything looked and felt great, it would ultimately still be just me standing in front of everyone acting like I had it all together.
For years I was criticized for being who I was. I was meant to feel stupid. I was dumb. I shouldn’t draw any attention to myself because I may say or do something that would embarrass myself or someone else.
Frequently, I would be in “trouble”, for dropping stuff, running into something, or not understand a joke.
I felt shame. I felt less than. I felt I should just be quiet, and let someone else do the talking, because I would just screw it up.
Since becoming a devoted follower of Jesus, things have certainly changed.
I have learned I’m surrounded by people who now laugh with me and not at me. They celebrate me. They accept me who I am and encourage me to share myself with others.
I have a pastor who affectionately calls me Lucy, as in, I Love Lucy. (Yes, he had to explain it to me.)
I have spilled Jesus, during communion. (I was horrified!)
I have nearly knocked things off the walls, trying to walking pasted them, or picking something I have dropped, under them.
I have forgotten to show up to fellowship events I have organized.
And once, while watching a video presenter, I leaned over to tell my pastor I was having trouble finding the speaker on Google. He had to stop church because he had been consumed with laughter, and once he was able to talk, informed me (and the church), we were watching FRANCES Chan, not JACKIE Chan.
Sometimes, I still get scared I’m going to be yelled at or punished because I forget to turn the water off in the backyard when I go to work.
Or for all dings I have under my car because of all the curbs I hit.
Or for buying ravioli, instead of tortellini for tortellini soup.
I know my husband looks over my shoulder as I look in the spice rack for something, and I’m determined I’m am going to take every single one of these spices out, along with each oil and gravy packet until I find what I’m looking for because I’m tired of feeling like a screwup.
Or I’ll leave to specifically get my husband a candy bar at the convenience store and come back with five sodas for all the kids and a water for me.
“It’s OK, Honey.”
It’s not OK. Not for me. I don’t understand why I keep doing stuff like this. I really don’t try to.
But my husband loves me! And he doesn’t think I’m an idiot. He doesn’t punish me for forgetting something, or not understanding something, or losing something. He smiles at me because he knows if he laughs, sometimes, I might cry.
I facilitated a new life group last night. I’ve done it before, but this time the group was different. Instead of it being focused on our strengths, it was focused on our weakness. It was about our fears.
I can’t express the overwhelming feeling of acceptance I had on the first night after sharing how much fear I have in letting people know me, the real me, the Lucille Ball, me.
I don’t have to pretend I can pray.
I don’t have to panic when I read out loud and say Jesus when I meant John.
I don’t have to cry when I run through all the kids’ names before I get to “Tank, get down!”
Because I’m ME, and God made me…me.
He never intended for me to feel shame, or less than.
His plan was never to have me remain quiet, and let someone else do the talking.
I’m not a screwup.
He finds great joy in me.
For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. – Psalm 149:4.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness.” – Zephaniah 3:17
So I can’t wait for next week to come, so I can screw it all up again!