“Why does the wind offend you?” He asked me.
I waited, thinking. It was a good question. “Because it exposes my ears to the cold,” I finally replied. “Because it messes up my image. I can’t control it.”
He nodded. “That’s good. You’re beginning to see what you’re afraid of. But, if I can, let me make a proposition. Perhaps,” He began, slowly. “Perhaps if you let go, you might just find who you really are. Perhaps if you allow your ears to be exposed, you’ll really be able to hear. Perhaps if you embrace the wind, which only hurts you because of the blocks you set before it, you may just find me there.”
This is a simple encounter that explains a profound and quite freeing truth. The truth is this: if you let go of your need to control what happens to you, if you let go of what you’ve made yourself to be (your pretend identity), if you let go of every fear, every worry, every expectation, and every limitation, the odds are you just might find yourself. With all those things stripped away, all you are left with is to be a child of God.
A child of a perfect, limitless Father who really does love you with everything inside of Him. And when you get to this place and know it, in your heart, then all these things start getting added to you—all these identities that are the very nature of your Father and Creator. Because you were made to bear His glory.
So why? Why do we put up the walls? Why do we try to block the wind with futile resistance?
Because we’ve forgotten who we are.
God recently used the film The King’s Speech to help me see some things in a new light. In this movie, Colin Firth plays King George VI, a British king in the 1930’s who suffers from a speech impediment that causes him to stutter when talking to people and addressing crowds. This limitation is a huge burden for a man in a position like his, and there is enormous pressure from not only himself but his father and the people of the nation for him to be able to get his words out clearly.
The king has to deal both with the expectations and feelings of condemnation from himself and others. He expects himself to stutter, so that is a natural block and hence, he continues to stutter. He believes that he’s always been this way. But see, he’s forgotten.
Enter the speech therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush.
Now, the king has been through many therapists by this point, none of whom have been able to “cure” him or do much good. Understandably, he has become skeptical and mistrusting. When Rush begins to ask him personal questions, he puts up the walls, thinking they’re all irrelevant to the issue. In one scene, the therapist asks him, “When did you begin to stammer?” to which he replies, “I’ve always been this way.”
Hmm. Really. None of us are convinced. Yet how many times have we used this very same excuse in our own lives?
The therapist replies, “I doubt that. No one starts to stammer from infancy.”
Oh, man, you got me!
Firth finally admits that it began around five years old. As the two of them dig deeper, he is able to recognize and recall different times when his father pressured him and yelled at him to spit out his words, or when his nanny rejected and ignored him, failing even to feed him properly as opposed to his brother, whom she treated kindly.
See, this king had formed a belief about himself that he had always had this problem, because he let the expectations from others, the hurts, and the condemnation from his father keep him in that box.
We all need a place of freedom in order to grow, be free and become who we really are—a place where there are no expectations placed on us based on our past or our title or position in life. Change only comes out of a personal relationship built with trust. Only when this king finally was able to trust his new therapist as a friend could he finally break out of his limitation. Towards the end of the movie, he has to give a major speech which people all over the world are tuning into. I love what the therapist (who is the only person in the room with him) tells him before he begins. He says, “Forget everything else, and just say it to me. Say it to me as a friend.” To me, these are the Holy Spirit’s words to us.
Keep your eyes on me. You are greater than you know. No one can tell you otherwise. Step off the shore. Step out of the boat onto the stormy waters. Because all that matters is that I’m here. And you’ll never know what incredible things you can do until you step out when you can’t see a thing but my face. Do you trust me?
We like to blame the people who put the expectations and the condemnation on us. We like to try to figure everything out in our minds. We like to defend ourselves against the wind and the storms instead of just letting go. We keep believing that we’re not really someone great because we’re afraid of what will be required of us if we embrace our true identity.
But how will we be one with the Father if we don’t embrace our own greatness? If He cannot be limited, neither can we.
Recently God has been opening up my heart and my eyes to help me see the false beliefs I’ve had about myself, and the things that have kept me stuck. He’s reminded me of the Father’s love, because I had forgotten without ever meaning to. For some time now, this picture keeps popping up in my head of Jesus standing on top of the stormy waters of a lake, and He’s looking at me. His eyes are daring but full of joy and excitement, His hand is reaching towards me and I know He’s inviting me to step out onto the water with Him. To ignore the unknown, the impossible, the voices that tell me I’m not good enough, the voices that say my dreams are too big, and the lies that remind me of all the limitations I bowed down to growing up.
I’m too quiet. There’s something wrong with me. If I change, or if I step out, I’ll be rejected. I’ll mess up. There will always be something blocking my full creative expression. I’ll never live up to my own standards or desires. I’ll be alone. I’ll be misunderstood.
I’ve built up walls around my heart without even realizing it. These walls have kept me comfortable but unsatisfied. Because I was not made for comfort.
Last weekend I attended a writer’s conference in Austin that was unlike any writer’s conference I’ve experienced or heard about before. More than anything, it was a time to be reminded of who we are. That we are our Father’s, that we exist to commune and co-create with Him, and that the only things that ever limit us in any way are the false beliefs we have about ourselves. On Friday I had the opportunity to have a personal conversation with my all time favorite author, someone whose books have often helped me see God’s love in radically new ways and whose heart and writing I deeply admire. I began telling him about the image of Jesus on the lake that I previously mentioned. This author in his most recent books has himself applied this picture to illustrate certain themes in his stories. I wanted to tell him how grateful I am that God has used these recent books to confirm what He is already speaking to me and to help me see certain truths from a whole new angle. When I spoke of the picture, this author asked me a question.
He said, “So, where are you in this picture? Are you on a boat, on the shore…?”
I had to think about it. I said I wasn’t sure but I think maybe on a boat?
Today I had a revelation of the answer. I know that I am no longer on the shore. Many years ago actually, I left that place. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted God more than anything, and when I saw the opportunity to dive into his lake of love, when I first saw it for what it really was and that it wanted to consume me, I dived in. But what I’ve only recently come to see is that somewhere along the way, I forgot.
And when I forgot, I believed a lie again.
God doesn’t really love me.
Now, it feels very unnatural and almost untrue to say that I ever believed the above statement. I know God loves me. Always have. So, if I believed it, why did I still not feel free? Why were there still walls between me and God and blocks to my creativity or my ability to minister to others?
Somewhere along the way, I built a boat. I think I did it subconsciously, this scared part of me wanting something that felt safe, wanting to be comfortable. A boat I could control. Raging waters and relentless wind I could not. When I first dived into the waters, I was chasing Jesus, wanting to follow Him with everything I had. But to step out of the boat means to walk with Him. I’m not just going where He’s going; I’m living my life with Him, in relationship and in trust. I can only do this when I’m out of the boat.
So, I know Jesus has been extending the invitation. And finally, I am beginning to allow Him to tear down the walls of fear, expectation, loneliness, control, shame and false identity. I don’t know what it’s going to look like when I step out, but He’s there.
At the conference when I was standing to the side waiting to talk to this author while he finished his conversation with another lady, he actually turned and noticed me off to the side. He invited me into the circle with openness and love, and this gesture struck something in my heart, reminding me of the Holy Spirit and the Father’s love. It took some courage for me to approach this man let alone be willing to share something so personal on my heart with him. But it was like God through him looked, saw me, grabbed a hold of that small faith, that small courage hiding somewhere deep inside, and drew me in. And instantly there was no fear. This is what God does.
We won’t usually know the freedom we long for and we won’t usually understand or be able to see all the great things that are actually possible until we first step out.
But the beautiful thing is that Jesus, and our Father, is right there.
I have to now choose what I will believe. Will I believe in the power of my limitations, or will I believe that really, because I am a daughter of a perfect and limitless and completely creative Father, I can do anything? I don’t have to accept the votes of those around me or of the enemies of my soul. If I know who I am and where my standing is, if I believe God loves me, what’s to hold me back?
In The King’s Speech Geoffrey Rush boldly says to the king, “Your impediment is not a permanent part of you.” How true.
This is what I want: I want the belief that God loves me to go all the way into my heart so I can’t unlearn it again. Because when we can stop searching for our own validation all the time, then we can be free. Our eyes will be able to see, our hearts able to love.
For some time the creative spark in me has been buried under piles of frustration that kept me in the belief that I’m just never going to be good enough. That is changing. I had lost my ability to see with eyes of wonder and curiosity. That is changing.
Because my Daddy loves me, and I can’t do anything to change that.