Drag Ugly Into the Light

There’s this song, Empty Me by Chris Sligh.  The lyrics strip me down every time I play it…

“I’ve had just enough of the spotlight
when it burns bright
to see how it gets in the blood
and I’ve tasted my share
of the sweet life
and the wild ride
and found a little
is not quite enough.
I know how I can stray
and how fast my heart could change.”

It’s not that I’ve seen that much of the spotlight, just enough of it to identify with Chris’ words– to know how quickly man’s approval can become addictive.

I think you get those lyrics, too. You may not have occupied a platform or a stage, but you’ve done something at some point well enough to elicit praise. You wrote, sang, photographed, cooked, helped, coached, nursed or gave. Add to the list until you see yourself, but whatever was produced from your efforts was recognized and appreciated — and it sat well with you.

We give ourselves to man’s approval like a dog to a belly rub. And just like our pets nudge us when our attention strays and our hands grow still, we can find ourselves stretching for the next pat on the head.

At least, I can.

Allow me to swallow hard and go all first person. It’s painfully embarrassing to admit key stroke by public key stroke that I like a “You go, girl” as much as the next person, but it’s worth dragging it into the light because that part of me stands in opposition to the approval I most long to hear.

Well done, my good and faithful servant.

crossspotlight

I can’t reconcile the two.  They’re light and dark, flesh and spirit.

On my own I can’t even see when I’ve slipped from worshiping the I Am to the age-old battle of recognize me.  The Lover of My Soul has to call me out.  Always He gives me the option of admitting and submitting, relenting and repenting, but once I do He moves tenderly and purposefully. Under His skilled hands, the lesser things of this life are cut away and my sore hearts beats with new passion.

This last pass under His sweet healing knife came as I was preparing speeches for several upcoming events. I was moving along at a pretty good clip when I found a Rock in my road. Color me stunned when God slipped in without any fanfare and showed me that I was going about my preparations with a desire to “do well” at these events.

Do well? Whatever does that mean but to do well so I won’t be embarrassed, so I’ll be approved, to ensure further opportunities– for me…

Father and I have had quite a day. I think I know what He wants me to do and say. Oh, the speeches aren’t totally wrapped up or set in stone. God knows He is welcome to pull them and start all over should He choose, and that’s the sweetest place on earth to be.

See, there’s another line I adore from Chris’ song,

Everything’s a lesser thing compared to You.

And so, I pull all of this ugliness out into the can’t take it back written world because if I don’t know anything else, I know this: My ugly can’t survive in the Light of Who He is but a yielded spirit thrives there.

I will always appreciate a kind word from you, but I aim to live on His for they are spirit and they are life.

All that said, this coming weekend I’ll be ministering with Dr. Joneal Kirby, known as The Heart Mom, the women of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, and a host of other exceptional speakers and worship leaders at the Inaugural Heart to Home Conference in Monroe, LA! I would appreciate your prayer support. Oh, and it’s not too late for you to secure a ticket and join us. Or, if you can’t make the trip physically, you individually or your church group can participate in the simulcast. All of the details can be found here.

Hugs, Shellie

Can you share one of your “uglier” moments in this business that Father has had you drag into the light?

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How a Non-Writer Like Me Got Published (Part I)

I never aspired to be a writer. Truly. In fact, Mr. Johsen, my high school senior English teacher, once said to me, “Cofer, you will never graduate from college because you can’t write!”

grunge image of a fieldI also never really aspired to write a book. Seems most everyone who survives trying times hears from well-wishers the old adage, “You ought to write a book.” And many of us believe that we could… but never do.

Writing didn’t become a consideration in my life until, uh, well, God and Oprah suggested it. This happened during the height of the recession when my physician recruitment business of twenty years was struggling to pay the bills. Exasperated, I turned the computer off early one business day and shifted my attention to the Oprah show. A discussion was underway about women who had founded new businesses, many starting in a basement or garage. Mrs. Fields was among those featured, as was the creator of Spanx.

I was surprisingly inspired and then on my knees. “Lord, please show me a new way to be in the world. I’m likely too old to start a new business, and the garage is already full, but please weigh in if you have any ideas. What can I possibly do at this age to augment the business I already have?”

I was unprepared for the answer I received about ten days later. It was mid-morning on a Friday and I was alone in the house. The stillness was unnerving. I leaned on the door jam of my office and faced the darkened expanse of the room. I dreaded entering. The only thought in my head was the ever-present drone, get to work. And then it happened. I heard The Voice. It was that commanding “voice within my own” that William P. Young so beautifully describes in his book, The Shack. I’d heard it before.

“Write a book about the gifts you were given.”

Huh? God, is that you? Write a book… really?

I’d never written anything more than a decent consumer complaint letter, and yet I just heard God tell me to write a book. Like I knew how to do that.

But the nudge was unmistakable.

I knew too what He meant by “gifts.” I often thought of as gifts the lessons learned through my daughter’s addiction and recovery. Even at the moment when Annie broke into our house and literally stole the family jewels, the opportunity that event provided for intervention seemed a gift. Maybe the judicial system would stop her from killing herself with drugs.

If I was indeed to write a book, I first needed my daughter’s permission to share our story. Then in sustained recovery from drug addiction, Annie would be both antagonist and heroine in my memoir. Telling an authentic story would require vulnerability on both our parts, as well as a willingness to reveal some very private details from our lives. Were we ready for that kind of exposure?

Annie’s response was wholehearted. “Go for it, Mom!” I didn’t know at the time she was secretly musing, isn’t that precious? Mom thinks she’s going to write a book.

So the new entry on my daily To Do list became “write a book.” I mean, how hard could it be, right? I already knew the story, so I figured I could crank something out in a couple of months. Uh-huh. I really was that clueless.

My writing began one night at 10:00. I’d promised my husband not to take valuable time away from our business day in order to pursue my newest folly, plus late night hours also provided a peaceful quiet. The time was guilt free. Settled in with a cup of tea, I faced the blank Word document on the computer screen before me…and silently prayed.

Okay, God. Now what?

(Stay tuned for Part II about finding a voice, and the will to keep going.)

Was there something that happened to you that got you on the writing path?