Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lydia


A dear friend posted this article from The Mighty and reading it was like reading my own autobiography. A line that especially stood out to me reads, "High-functioning anxiety feels like…Punch-in-the-gut stomach aches, like my body is confusing answering an email with being attacked by a lion."

I got a hard email yesterday. An email that created that precise punch-in-the-gut feeling. Then I spent the next several hours spiraling and being drowned by anxiety until eventually I could only shake and cry. It wasn't the sender's fault and quite frankly, they made some very valid points that alerted me to some decisions I made that should have been done differently. But the stomach-in-my-throat feeling could not be suppressed, the anxiety took control, and I found I was powerless to stop it.

Friends, none of us are perfect. We are so very far from it. I make mistakes what sometimes feels like every moment of every day. For those of us who feel the weight of anxiety, we keep a record of those mistakes and even add in our presumed thoughts of how others view us. And we convince ourselves that it's true. We are quick to believe the worst in ourselves and even quicker to let it devour us alive.

I screw up constantly. Never do I intentionally mean to hurt anyone or to say or do things that do not live up to the standard of integrity that is so important to me. But I've done all of these things. If you have been on the receiving end of an injury of my creation, I need you to hear me well. It was not intentional. I sincerely apologize. I want to do all I can to make it right.

At the end of the day, I'm just a hot mess of a person. Trying to figure out how to encourage others while constantly reminding myself that I have value too. It's a hard line to walk sometimes, especially when there are so many voices trying to convince me otherwise - voices on the Internet, comments on Facebook, statements made in passing from people, even the voices inside my own head. Putting yourself out there comes at a cost.
This morning, as I hashed this out with God and asked again, "Am I really doing what you want me to be doing? Why did you even put me here? What if I'm screwing it all up?"
Clear as day, I heard a name. 

LYDIA.

Lydia. The Vera Wang of Philippi. The seller of purple. The business owner. The woman who gathered with other women outside the gate of the town and heard Paul speak. The Lord "opened her heart to pay attention to what was said" and she used her position to advance the gospel. She opened her home to Paul and became a key player in the establishment of the church in Philippi. When I read about Lydia in Acts 16 of my ESV Study Bible, there was this note under Acts 16:14 - "The Lord opened her heart" : It is the supernatural work of God, not the wisdom or persuasiveness of the preacher, that ultimately draws people to Christ."

God gave Lydia a platform. She had wealth and means and the opportunity to start a church right in her house. I don't really have wealth like Lydia, but I have a platform. It's a platform that God prepared for me, setting up each and every step along the way so that the only way I would have wound up here was through obedience. God didn't ask Lydia to ditch her business, donate it all to the church, and start making only sandals for disciples.

Lydia was called to use her platform to the glory of God.

I'm sure she wasn't perfect. I'm sure she screwed up from time to time. There may have been a customer or two who thought her garments were overpriced or perhaps she was late on a delivery date for a client at some point.

But in Lydia's business, she dealt with a variety of people, from a variety of backgrounds, with a variety of beliefs. She didn't make Christian clothes exclusively for Christians. She sold designer fashion to an eclectic and elite clientele who had good money to pay for her services. And yet, she got to be a point of light for Christ in that environment and make it her ministry. Whoah. What an opportunity. What a challenging assignment.
Lydia.
You too have been given a platform. No matter where you are, what your situation or circumstances, you have influence. And it looks different for each of us and that's OKAY. What I'm experiencing today is the reassurance that God doesn't write the same story for everyone, nor does he give everyone the same platform or a passion for the same issues or the gifts and skills to excel at one profession over the other.

But if we are truly attentive to WHERE God has put us, we can work within those parameters to shine like stars, as Paul encourages the Philippians to do in a letter he would later write them.
Last night as my anxiety was unravelling my insides, I texted my friend Lauren and emotionally vomited on her. She sent me what I think was the most profound encouragement I have received since launching MKE Moms Blog:

"Christians are (at times) very exclusive. That's exactly what we are trying NOT to do. We want to bring people in, share life together, support one another. That's a pretty raw form of the gospel."


Oh Lord. Help me to continue to trust you in this. Teach me to be a Lydia.



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