“You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.” ~ Marianne Williamson
Have I been playing small? Yesterday was Easter Sunday. It was a a good day to celebrate life and hope. It was encouraging to me after a few months of reading about Communism, Socialism, Totalitarianism, and the writings of some feminists. There is truly no depths to the depravity we can sink into as the human race.
A church in Summerside saw their minister out on sick leave and looking for people to supply preach. I have not spoken on a regular bases since early 2008. I don’t miss it. Not because I have little to share. Rather, I find other mediums of communication fit me better. I reluctantly agreed to preach two Sundays back in February. Then they called and asked if I would speak Palm and Easter Sunday. Again I agreed. Still not sure how I feel about playing preacher anymore.
I received some great encouragement, and kind words about what I shared. But i don’t need nor want those words at this stage in life. I have no chips in that game anymore, living and serving outside of the traditional church structure for about six years now.
Now, I say what ever I want. I make every effort speak kindly, and graciously, but I no longer hold back much. I am fifty years old, and the majority of my life has passed, so if i feel the truth of something I share it.
My philosophy is if you don’t want to hear what I have to say, don’t ask me to come and speak in the first place. 95% of the churches I stand in (On rare occasions now) are dying, so its not time to pretend anymore.
Here is a funny story for you. I had prepared a message for a place, spent about fifteen hours sculpting it so my thoughts were clear and flowing. When I arrived at the venue, a gentleman asked me to be finished on time, which meant their predetermined end time.
As usual, everyone else did their thing in the service, I got to the podium ten, no more than fifteen minutes before the deadline. And I had crafted a 25-30 minutes talk. Some people can cut and slice on the fly well, I can’t do that very well. I need my notes or I will go on forever.I knew the rule and I said to hell with it. I spoke for forty five minutes on purpose.
Now I understand I should be sensitive to peoples time, etc. Also, I am aware that speaking is not a show case about me. Most could care less if it was I who arrived, or another speaker. I am about ZERO in the calculation.
However, I have this humorous quirk in me about this. I don’t like people telling me how to do my job, especially people who have never done my job, and doubly so with those people who think they know what’s important, while their church is dying all around them- those majoring in the things that least matter to health – they want to tinkering with the show on Sunday.
Ask me to speak or not, don’t tell me how to do it, or what to do. It’s kind of a rule I have. Judge this as you wish.
I don’t get angry when told a parameter at the last minute. I just laugh inside, knowing they will regret having said it, and I knowing full well I will probably not be asked again. Which suits me just fine. As I really don’t want to do this, especially if you have other options, by all means please take them. Only call me when your are out of options, I mean, when you are really, really desperate.
Having said this, I was asked to be shorter for Easter yesterday. I took the sermon that I had already mostly written before the followup note arrived last week, I went to the computer and deleted half my notes, down to 4.5 pages. Service began at 10, and at 10:59 I was finished with my speaking part.
The upshot of my four Sunday speaking tour over the past two and a half months is that I have now officially already attended a traditional church more in 2018 than I normally do in several years combined.
My conclusion? I don’t miss public speaking, I never enjoyed it. I always worked hard at it, but it is not me, it always stressed me. I was indeed happy to serve those precious people or I would never have accepted the engagements.
However, I do not need to do this. I would rather sit and chat with a group of people and share what I have been learning and seeing, with them doing the same in return. Same results, more interaction, less time wasted in performance. I find the art of crafting for the stage a burden, one we can easily bypass to better forms of learning.
We had lunch with a delightful 80 year old couple we served with in Africa with at one point. We talked and talked, and they would not let us out the door. They are seeing the writing on the wall too. They wanted to talk about so many things, and where things might be headed in the near future. we talked for three and a half hours. We love those people.
We drove for an hour home where I had a great chat with Lynn. I then went for a 8.3 km walk. I began with this sunset, and ended with a clear view of Orion’s Belt.
As it got dark, I took my sunglasses off, placed them on my top of my hat, to marvel at the emerging stars. The stars always inspire me, I could spend all night gazing heavenward. I arrived home realizing I had been cranking my neck upward so much that my favorite sunglasses had fallen off the back of my head at some point. I got in the car, driving lowly and I actually found my beloved sunglasses about one kilometer from my house, sitting there on the road with not a scratch on them.
In that conversation with Lynn, and on the long walk, I came to a few realizations.
I could not speak at a church every week anymore, like I once used to do for several decades. I could not go back to that ever again (though I can gather with good people on a similar walk every day of the week and never grow weary of it).
I also got to thinking about my new social media decisions. After deleting from existence the majority of my posts from 2007-2018, on all social media, I had decided not to post about things I am learning or reading, only trivial things from now on.
I woke up early this morning and the first thing I read was this.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. . . . You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.” ~ Richard Rohr
Let these words sink in for a minute…………………….. “Your playing small does not serve the world.”
These words slapped me silly. Then Rohr immediately adds,
“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ” ~ Marianne Williamson:
I read, study, write, share, and post things that progressives simply do not like. Things that cause people to question reality.
There nagging question, Is taking my duck out of the bathtub of communication the solution? If I shut up, will that also not permit others to be intimidated to think and grow too? Cat and food pictures don’t challenge our minds very much, do they?
I am wondering now. Just like the church leader that preferred I be done on time, rather than submitting to people who want the ten minute fluff as their spiritual fill for the week, should I be silent just to appease those who would rather I said little? Or should I continue the conversations, even if it shakes the comfort, mental peace, or security of onlookers who might not care to examine life and ideologies that drive life, very deeply? Saying the same thing. If you don’t want me to speak, don’t invite me, unfollow and unfriend me.
But be damned if I am going to resort to trivial living!
Living small, believing small, questioning small, examining small, and learning small does not serve the world.
It certainly is not living the enlightened path, is it?
Richard Rhor slapped me silly today.