Friday, May 2, 2008

Don't Should On Yourself

I don't remember when I heard this story-- it was so long ago, I can't remember if it was from someone on my DTS outreach or someone else's, but it seems like maybe I heard it from someone else.... Anyway, there had been a speaker talking about the fact that the Lord doesn't hold our mistakes against us and that we should learn to forgive ourselves and get past the things we are beating ourselves up over-- past mistakes, missed opportunities, etc. "Don't 'should' on yourself," was the line that so stuck with the guy who was telling the story.

It was such a new and radical concept, it made a huge impact on the way he was living his life. That's one of the multiple beautiful things about outreach (for those unfamiliar, that's a 6 to 12 week mission trip that follows the lecture phase (12 weeks) in a Discipleship Training School in Youth With A Mission): practical application of...everything. You get an opportunity to take this new, scrubbed-clean life out into the world, an opportunity to serve your butt off in any capacity needed, an opportunity to humble yourself (multiple opps for that)-- opportunities to really put feet to the teachings you've just spent all those weeks gorging yourself on. Done right, it's one of the most important times in any individual's life who has ever done a DTS. Jesus meets you. You meet Him. It's awe-ful and awful and wonderful.

So anyway, the thing about outreach in the late 80's/early 90's was total lack of communication with home. Total. No email, bad-news long distance bills, no internet anything. Primarily, we faxed immediate stuff and the leaders might make one laaaaate night call back to the base once a week-- maybe. When you were gone, you were gone.

But this one guy found a phone (sort of like a group of my friends on my DTS-- we found a payphone outside a hospital in Cancun) and called home, all excited about what the Lord was doing and about how the Lord was revealing Himself to him all over again with that "don't should on yourself" teaching-- but the connection was not so great. Over and over, he repeated this profound thing and his mother, aghast, was trying desperately to understand him. "Don't WHAT on yourself?" "Should, Mom-- SHOULD"-- but it only got worse with each repeated attempt. You can imagine what she thought he was saying.

I don't remember how he straightened it out-- seems like he was able to explain himself in a postcard he sent home, but I always thought the story was funny-- and kind of profound. You know the excitement you feel when the Lord reveals some new thing to you? When suddenly a verse in James comes ALIVE and your heart pounds because you can taste the truth in it and you feel so strongly the presence of the Lord? If you're like me, you can barely stand to sit with it-- you have to go tell someone right that instant. And being sanguine, my expectation is that my announcement-- sharing this amazing revelation-- will be met with the same level of intense excitement that I am feeling. Yippee, Samantha-- and we dance around the room waving our hands and shrieking with laughter over the goodness of the Lord. But somehow, when the words that were revealed to my heart come tumbling out of my lips, something gets lost in the translation. I'm met with, "Wow, that's really neat... [pause] What are you doing for lunch?"

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

And it's a little deflating. Suddenly, the excitement gets pushed down in the disappointment that others don't see it like you do. They don't feel it like you did.

But then, lately I've been thinking about that. About my tendancy to just run straight to teaching something new that the Lord has shown me-- I mean, I'm a teacher. It's almost always my first instinct to tell someone else something new, what to do, how to do it, etc. But I think that the Lord wants us to hold onto it sometimes-- like Mary, hiding it in our hearts. Letting it soak into us privately. Letting it cure. Grape juice is good, but it has to sit hidden in barrels before it becomes wine. The juice-- the revelation-- matures, expands, takes on richer texture, when its allowed to sit in our hearts for a while.

So many times, I've run to tell someone when I feel that the Lord has shown me something neat, and lately it's not the fear of being let down by the response of people that has encouraged me to keep things inside-- it's this sense that He wants to ferment something in me. In all of us. That He's cooking something inside of our spirits and wants us to wait, let Him bring wisdom with maturity, and then give us opportunities to share His beautiful words and ideas. I think of all the times He has shown me something and I have gone off in a fit of excitement (pride that He spoke to me? How icky and ironic-- but how immature and typical, too) to tell everyone and I missed the deeper thing that came with waiting. I should have sat still longer.

I want Him to revisit me with those thoughts and ideas. I want another chance to let them grow in my heart.

But He's good, right? So I'm going to take a lesson from that long-lost DTSer and not "should" on myself.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Hey Sam; this is good and I want to come back to it as well. Just a comment. Should on yourself is something I first heard in counseling jargon. Albert Ellis, who created RET (rational Emotive Therapy) used it in relation to our tendency to obsess about and live in expectations that others (parents) have set for us. We end up livivng our lives according to a 'script' I should, I ought, I never, I always...) There is a lot in that........I want to think more about what your saying. tom