It is the breaking of dawn in a personal long dark night of my soul, its twilight beginning sometime at the start of the year. This night has had many ups and downs, and I have waged war within myself. Even now I cannot say I feel victorious, but I know One who has given me the victory and at this moment, in this breath, that is enough for me.
My night began when I realized I needed to step back from service and begin an inward and deeply spiritual look into the mirror of my soul. I have been struggling with tendonitis in both ankles, and arthritis in my knees which has led to back issues because of the way I end up walking. It is difficult to stay off my feet and rest. Life does tick on and carries us along with it, requiring movement and responsibility. Hope deferred truly does make the heart sick, and unanswered prayer to relieve chronic pain takes its toll. Some days are better than others, some days it’s a struggle to put on shoes. I found myself on the verge of a spiritual crisis. I’m not throwing a pity party, nor do I want your pity either. Had it still been midnight during this long dark night, I may have disagreed, but since we are nearing dawn, I’m over it.
I didn’t only step away from a ministry I loved serving in, but I also withheld parts of myself that I used to freely give others. I found that I didn’t always pray as intensely as I had, I didn’t open my bible, or just randomly sing, and my writing suffered. I questioned my existence, purpose, and where I was in my life. I felt forgotten by my Papa, passed over, unwanted and a misfit. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is nice to be someone’s and I didn’t think anyone wanted what I had to offer. I bound myself up in the comparison trap, holding up a ruler to myself to see if I measured up and good enough. Yes, you guessed it, I felt like an epic fail.
I was not only in the dark, but under spiritual attack. At one point, I was smelling something nasty that was, quite literally, following me around. It was probably in the third watch of this long dark night that I finally realized what was actually going on, breaking down and asking a couple key people in my life to pray for me. I had connected dots and with their prayers in agreement with mine, we evicted that mess. Smell gone, along with its mind-numbing companions and the grip it had on my soul and I began to usher in the dawn.
I remembered. I remembered where Papa found me, what He led me out of, all that He has done since He plucked me from the world and saved me. Where I used to be is not a place I ever want to go back to. My focus moved from what I saw with my natural eyes to what He revealed to my spiritual eyes. He was always there, always with me, always loving me, always faithful. There is no truer truth than what He tells us “I will never leave, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b NKJV). He is for me, not against me and because of Him, I AM more than a conqueror.
Oh, the places we will go now that morning has broken and the long dark night is behind me. A new and momentous day is ahead and I shall go and enjoy it, fulfilling my destiny!
I have had this topic resounding in my spirit for well over a year and I believe the Lord is prompting me to release it. It isn’t an unfamiliar topic, it’s been discussed, blogged about, videos and preachings done on it, yet I’m bringing it up again because Papa thinks it is important. We need to be ever so careful with others that we not dismiss them in any area based on their outward appearance.
For most of my life I struggled with my appearance. I always felt judged and therefore not good enough. I felt judged by my weight, judged by my talents (or lack thereof), judged by my lack of interest in social activities, etc. Judged like a single-color, no artwork, cloth covered book based solely on what I looked like or very shallow and uninteresting surface conversation.
I have never fit into anyone’s mold and I have no intention of starting now.
I met Jesus in 2004 and haven’t looked back. He took me out of the quicksand of self-loathing propelling me into territory I was not at all familiar with, and not at all prepared for; it was okay with me. I tried to fit into other people’s molds at the time by conforming to certain rules, but they weren’t “me” and they certainly weren’t “comfortable”. However, I had questions about those rules and why they were in place because they didn’t seem to make a difference in advancing the kingdom. Papa gently reminded me to simply be myself.
The color of our hair (or colors), whether or not we have tattoos or piercings, how institutionally educated we are, how well-dressed or not, who our friends are, whether we are male or female – none of these should matter if we are serving where we are called. People won’t always know our back-story, but they should recognize the anointing on our lives. Sadly, many are discouraged from doing the very thing they are called to do based on what they look like or what others believe they should be.
My hair is four different colors and I have five tattoos, yet Jesus still calls me daughter and still speaks through me. I don’t wear skirts or shun make-up and He’s never frowned or looked down His nose at me. I have shared what God has given me to both men and women and He hasn’t ignored me. My hair color, tattoos and weight do not diminish the sound of my voice in worship or the caliber of my writing. My heart belongs to Jesus and He knows me inside and out. He has deemed me worthy to wear the mantle He’s blessed me with, and I wear it as a daughter seeking to please.
Please do not misunderstand, I am not singling anything or anyone out, I am no better than anyone and I have to fight the urge to pass judgment myself. As humans we can sometimes get hung up on outward appearances and forget that Papa sees, and knows, the heart.
Let us be a people of grace, a people who welcomes those who are different, a people who aren’t afraid to get to know someone and push them into their anointed calling despite what we see. They may be young, but David was anointed king as a child and Jeremiah was called a prophet. They may have nose piercings and covered in tattoos, but when they worship, angels join in. We aren’t to judge on appearances, but fruit.
Every person we meet is a book ready to read. We must be willing to open the cover and begin turning pages, and allow the same of ourselves. This is how we learn and grow. Papa has given each of us something that someone else needs. Give freely and without partiality. It truly is more blessed to give, especially when we move people into their destiny rather than withhold it from them because they don’t conform to a predetermined “man” standard.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”(1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV).