WHAT? Two posts in a row?? I know – I know, you think the world is coming to an end. But have no fear! It is only that I am at work, but have little to do (right now at least) and wanted to talk about something that I experienced yesterday but wasn’t ready to talk about when I posted last night.
So, you recall, no doubt, that I wore a hat to church yesterday. Which was awesome and exciting and a huge step for me. But something unexpected came out of it too. Something you are the first to hear, and it is humbling for me to talk about it. But I feel the need to share it, if only to cement what I learned within myself.
I was standing in church during worship, singing along to the words – but not paying attention. I was far too focused on whether I looked okay, and if people were staring at me, and what it would be like if everyone wore hats to church like they used to. Suddenly some words I had said to Daniel before reaching church floated back into my head. It was something along the lines of: “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care if I wear a hat, so I don’t know why I care so much what other people think.” And I suddenly felt convicted as something (or Someone) whispered, “He may not care if you wear a hat, but He cares if you pay closer attention to that hat and your looks than Him.” I realized with a start that I was so concentrated on my own looks, I couldn’t even do what I had come to church to do – which is worship and learn about God. I’m not going to say it was easy, but I very purposefully turned away my attention from myself and concentrated on the worshipful words I was singing. Which not only took away my self-consciousness but opened up another vein of thought.
How many times had I stood in that same church, singing and worshiping and focusing on something other than God? For instance, in the same line of fear (people’s opinions), I often focus on my voice and whether I am singing too loudly or not loudly enough, if I am in tune, if I got the wrong words or had the wrong timing and whether other people liked or disliked the tone of my voice. I blushed to myself as I realized how incredibly self-focused I was during this time at church every Sunday. So I took my purposefulness to another level, and instead of focusing on my voice and how it sounded, I listened to the sound of the church singing to their God. What an incredible difference it made! For the first time, I could hear all of our voices joined in one harmonic tone, lifting up praise. And I understood why God loves worship. The people in that church may or may not have “good” voices and may or may not sing in general – but for those moments – it was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard and the most in harmony song I’d ever witnessed. And I knew that God was in His heaven, looking down and reveling in the sound of that many people joined together to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. What I had been missing for so long, because I was so self-focused!
I realized – I mean – I had told myself this before, certainly – but never really, really realized how incredibly selfish and self-focusing fear of people makes you. Yes, you are called a “people pleaser” – you want others to be happy so you worry about what you are doing – but why do you want others to be happy? So you can feel happy, and respected, and worthy and even important. It all circled back to me, me, and more of me. That is not to say we shouldn’t be concerned about others certainly – but perhaps I should be more focused on how to help THEM instead of how it is going to make me feel if I don’t do it right. It is a very slight shift in mindset that I think makes an incredible difference in life view.
That is not to say that everything is going to change overnight – it has been a mode of thought ingrained in me for so long I don’t think that is possible. But at least I know now what to concentrate on – how to change my mindset – and about what may be the biggest sin issue I’ve ever discovered about myself – and the last one I expected – selfishness. I wonder what would happen if, every time I started to feel self-conscious or worried about what people thought, I stopped myself and asked myself why I felt that way and whether I was actually worried about them, or about myself.