November 12, 2012:
I'll never forget the scathing reprimand I received from a past worship leader many years ago, who said I was a terrible example of a worshiper because I was not jumping all over, raising my hands, and "looking" like I was totally "into it". They said even if I wasn't enjoying myself, I should pretend that I was, so I didn't give anyone else who was watching me a bad witness. And what exactly *was* I doing? I was standing still, eyes closed and at rest, being reflective in my heart as I was worshiping His name. Around the same time frame, another worship leader in the same camp told me I was "sticking out like a sore thumb" for not "being like everyone else."
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." ~ Genesis 50:20
I will never forget what these two leaders said to me - not because I haven't forgiven (I most certainly have), but because in that season of my life it caused me great pain to be so brutally mislabeled by others, (a) who did not know me well nor sincerely tried to know me, (b) I had respected, and (c), of whom I had to follow their rules of engagement in order to function and be both accepted and promoted in the worship ministry. Their subsequent "we'll be watching you for improvement" truly crushed the worship that had been stirring so deeply within me. It crushed my spirit. After those words of condemnation were spoken over me, I began to grow quiet and withdrawn, knowing that I was under a microscope - just for worshiping differently and not having a pack mentality. I had even met with those leaders to share my heart, but I was torn apart by them all the more, and further condemned for questioning leadership at all. For years afterward I found myself walking in the desert of not fitting in with Man's Church. Although I grew and was stretched a great deal in this desert, it wasn't fun, nor did it feel good to be divided from something I loved so much. I finally moved out of that desert of despair and into a new place of peace and compassion, and asking the Lord for His perspective. I didn't want to be in knots about it anymore. I wanted to be able to love and find me. I didn't want it to own my destiny anymore. I was done not being me both on the inside and out. I wanted to be set free.
Beloved, it doesn't just stop with how your worship. The list goes on and on with this deceit of perfection and looking/sounding/acting/etc. a certain way to "fit in", whether it's Church, or business, or school, or something else. Man is Man. Some things will not change, but with the Lord's eyes, we can change how we see ourselves and others.
But yes, because I love the Lord with all my strength and soul, and I grieve when others are hurting in the Body, I will relate to how this effects others in the same circumstance. How many of His Beloved have actually checked out altogether because of being hurt by Man and the Institution of Church/Religion? I don't even think we can count how many. Words and relationship matter! If The Church was actually taking care of the hurting *and* joyful the way we were supposed to within our ranks, then there wouldn't be so many in the Body that are bleeding profusely, and those outside The Church who despise Christians so.
I'm just one person this kind of thing has happened to. This little piece of my story isn't a whole lot different than a lot of others who have suffered the same situation. Praise the Lord (not a cliche in the least) The Holy Spirit made me whole again, and gave me a understanding for those who are operating out of their own hurts. I know there are countless people across the Kingdom who have been cut off at the knees, told they are not something that God has indeed called them to be, or told they need a lot of further molding and "instruction" in order to be useable, or cast to the wayside without a chance to even set foot into their calling at all - labeled, misunderstood, judged, muted, and discarded as not fitting some kind of perfect Christian club whatever-it-may-be.
All of that to say that I have a special place in my heart, because I've been there, for people who have been cast aside on account of being different. To these people, if you are listening, please do not give up your dreams and destiny. Continue being and cultivating you, open to The Holy Spirit, bold and/or quiet as intended, as ordained, as called forth by your Loving Father in Heaven. Be encouraged. Arise again.
"But The God of hope shall fill you with all joy and peace by faith, that you shall superabound in his hope by the power of The Spirit of Holiness." ~ Romans 15:13