Audience of One

We all fall short

In our daily lives

So much happens

And we begin to strive.

When perfection is the goal

Our lives are out of whack

The frustration settles in

And we focus on our lack.

We forget to whom we belong

That we are sisters of the Son

Remember that your target audience

Is an audience of one.

Stephanie Weber, 07.28.2018

My Walk to Emmaus

72 hours in a church with a bunch of women with the goal of growing closer to God. What could possibly go wrong? My mind was kind enough to make a list for me to choose from:

  1. I’m not enough.
  2. They won’t like me.
  3. I won’t like them.
  4. I’m too stupid to “get it”.
  5. I will be the only one to NOT “get it”.
  6. There will be drama.
  7. I won’t be comfortable.
  8. I’ll laugh inappropriately (see #2).
  9. I’ll say something inappropriate.
  10. I’ll cause an argument (see #9).

Those are just the top 10. There were plenty of other reasons to fear the unknown.

I never expected my ENTIRE list to become irrelevant.

I never expected to encounter love and acceptance. I never expected to bond with women. I never expected to laugh so hard that I thought I would wet myself – many times. (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t wet myself on any occasion. #miracle)

What I found was a safe environment full of so many women with the same fears. These women are now my sisters.

I spoke to the Spiritual Director the first night and told him that I couldn’t understand the vastness of God’s love. He assured me I would have an understanding by the end of the weekend. I just needed to pray for God to show me His goodness. I went to bed halfheartedly believing his advice, but still afraid I was unreachable.

While I was waiting to speak with the pastor, I was asking God why He wasn’t speaking to me when a thought popped into my mind: Colossians 423. I picked up the Bible in the pew and was more than slightly irritated to find that Colossians ends at 18. (See? I can’t even hear God correctly!)

I closed the Bible and went to put it back when something told me 4:2-3. (Yeah. Sure. Let me look again. Sigh.) Fine. Flipping to those verses, I found this:

“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains,” Colossians 4:2‭-‬3 CSB

Um. Wow.

That was how it began. Maybe I wasn’t too stupid for the weekend after all.

I was seated at a table with strangers. All of us had our guards up. All of us were careful to share only pieces of our stories without going too deep. That was Day 1.

Over the course of the next two days, we began to open up more and to learn that people really cared. We stepped out of our comfort zones. We showed genuine love to one another. We discussed the events that unfolded with transparency and honesty.

We were emotionally wrecked many times during those days as God opened our hearts to each other, and to Him. We comforted each other, encouraged each other, laughed together, ate together, and cried together.

By the end of the weekend, I could say with absolute confidence that the Spiritual Director was correct: I do understand.

After one of the talks, I felt led to write a poem. Our summary of the talk focused on the fact that the strive for perfection can be paralyzing and perfection is unattainable. We merely need to consider our audience of one.

The poem appears in the next post, titled “Audience of One” (https://walkbyfaith3blog.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/audience-of-one/).

My Walk to Emmaus was more incredible than I ever expected. I firmly believe every Christian should take this walk. It’s a game-changer.

I witnessed many miracles over those 72 hours. The women at that table on Day 3 were NOT the same women we were on Day One. Transformation occurred before my eyes. Hearts were wide open, love flowed freely, and trust was reciprocated without hesitation.

God was with us. He is still with us. He will be there all of the tomorrows of our lives. And guess what: he loves us. Unconditionally, irrevocably, vastly. He loves us where we are for WHO we are. Claim that love, friends. It’s a gift, just for you. You don’t have to change a thing.

Choices

Doubts, shame, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy creep into our minds daily. Well, at least into mine. The enemy is relentless in his attempts to distract us from keeping our eyes on what God has for us. This is a fact. However, we often give the enemy way too much credit for his actions. We think of the enemy as a powerful being, forgetting that we end up doing most of the damage ourselves.

Sure, he will lay a trap to ensnare us, but all he can do is suggest something. He cannot make it happen. He weaves a web that we all too willingly walk into, then spend all of our time fighting to break free – while we actually entangle ourselves more – until we are so exhausted that we forget that he isn’t as powerful as we think. We don’t see that we are the ones doing the damage based on suggestions.

Think about it…. If the enemy was so powerful, why would he have to flee at the whisper of one word: Jesus?

Sure. That enemy jerk seems all big and bad, but really he is a coward. He is no match for the Lord. What’s even more important is that he knows he isn’t that powerful! Yeah, he’s full of himself, deceitful, cunning, calculating, but powerful? Ummmm. Nope. Survey says: #theenemyisaloser.

True power comes from Heaven, not from Hell. Jesus is THE way. THE truth. THE life. He is perfect. The enemy is an overly stimulated, spoiled toddler all jacked up on sugary candy after missing naptime, who is still up after night-night time: annoying, destructive, divisive, rude.

So how do we fight back? How do we overcome darkness? By focusing on truth. When we call on the Lord, He steps in. He saves us from the enemy. He saves us from ourselves. When we bring Jesus into the fight, the enemy runs off. Tail between his legs kind of running off. Cowardly fleeing.

It’s not that he doesn’t stick around; it’s that he cannot stick around. He’s no match for our Savior. Satan knows this, but he counts on us not remembering that fact. He hopes that we continue working ourselves deeper into the traps he has laid, but he cannot actually do anything to us. It’s all up to us to do damage. And – yikes – we take that assignment seriously.

We choose to listen to lies spoken over us. We choose to relive our past mistakes. We choose to live in shame. We choose to live in isolation. We choose to question why God would choose us for anything. We choose to give up and live in complacency, delaying – or even forfeiting – our purpose. The power of the enemy comes from our willingness to believe the enemy’s lies.

When the enemy lays that next trap, speak truth and call on the name that sends that little weasel scurrying like a cockroach when light appears (which is pretty much what he is, among other things). Praise God during the hard times. Right there in the midst of the “stuff”, while you’re still tangled up in all of the lies, doubt, shame, and inadequacy. Even when it seems like everything is falling apart around you. Even when it seems hopeless. Praise, praise, praise! Embrace light and turn from the darkness that threatens souls.

Dear friends, remember whose you are. You belong to the King of Kings, the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord of Lords. Matchless. Timeless. Relentless. He’s standing with you, even when you don’t feel Him, but He won’t step in until you ask Him because we were created to have free choice: the choice to believe the only thing the enemy can speak (lies), or the choice to believe the only thing God can speak (truth). The choice to live in fear and shame, or the choice to embrace the freedom that comes from the truth.

*****

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
Luke 10:19 NIV

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV