What Criticisms Are You Carrying?
As I consider this week's scripture selection from Psalm 139, I have been reflecting on what it means to be known. The scripture tells us that we were known to God before we were known to anyone else. "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance." If there is nowhere we can go to be hidden from God, and God knows the deepest parts of us, why do we so quickly believe other peoples' opinions about us?
When I was a kid, the church we went to had a children's choir at Christmas and Easter. It was one of my favorite things. I LOVED to sing. Year after year I watched the older kids get solos for the performances. When I was finally old enough to be considered for a solo, I was devastated when the Choir Director told me I wasn't good enough. Eventually, he ran out of other people to cast, so I got a solo... but it didn't feel good. Fast forward several years, and I was in Middle School. It was time to try out for the advanced choir. I loved singing, I wanted to do it, so I tried out. And again, I wasn't good enough.
After several of those experiences, whenever I started to sing, I heard the voices of those Choir Directors and I felt so self conscious that singing wasn't fun anymore. Eventually, I stopped singing. It wasn't until I was in a group of incredibly affirming, non-judgmental, non-perfectionist people that I became willing to try singing again. I rediscovered my love of singing. I still hear those Choir Directors' voices in my head, and I probably always will. But they don't have any power over me anymore. I'm not trying to be a professional singer. Yes, I sing the wrong notes and most of the time I am probably flat or sharp or whatever, but I don't let that stop me from singing.
What criticisms do you carry with you? What loves have you lost as a result? Do you carry around guilt or shame because of past transgressions? All of you is known to God, and God loves all of you. God loves me when I sing AND when I feel self conscious. We are never abandoned. We are never alone. Come to church this Sunday, and we can release the guilt, the shame, the self consciousness - together... for we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."