Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a few groups around the country. It is one of my most favorite things. I enjoy meeting you in the flesh, sitting across the table from you before the speaking session, hearing your story, singing worship songs with you, and taking selfies to post on Instagram.
But let me tell you something. Every single time I stand in front of a group of people to share a few words—no matter the size of the group, no matter if you laugh in all the right places, applaud in moments that catch me off guard, smile and nod at me from your seat in the audience or congregation—no matter what, every single time, when my talk is over, and before I’ve returned to my seat, a symphony of negativity has already taken up residence in my head.
Perhaps you’re familiar with this particular chorus? The one that sounds like this: Who do you think you are, anyway? What a ridiculous bunch of words you strung together up there. And what’s with that outfit? Seriously? You wore that to talk about Jesus? Not to mention your hips. They are way too wide. And your belly is a bit out of control, don’t you think? Why do you think you have anything good to say? Why do you think you have any authority to speak about Jesus? And, didn’t you mention the Holy Spirit while you were up there? What in the world do you know about the Holy Spirit? Let’s not be foolish, okay? Let’s not go overboard. You should just call it quits. You really should read more books or take a few classes before you get up in front of another group. And what’s up with your hair?
I truly have to fight (and I do mean fight) to keep my head above the litany of naysaying that often unleashes itself in my heart and mind. I don’t have this all figured out, and moments like those remind me I’m not done with the “I don’t measure up” game.
Well, let’s remind ourselves of this real and honest truth: God rejoices over us with singing. Nothing we do will separate us from God’s love. Nothing. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less, or more. His love is not dependent on our performance, our talent, our intelligence, our words, our actions, our platform, the cleanliness of our minivan, our ability to make a perfect batch of brownies, our skillful (or not) stringing together of words on a page or from a podium.
We don’t have to believe it for it to be true. But, it is, by far, a better report than the ones we often find ourselves believing about ourselves, don’t you think?
When I find that symphony of negativity trying to strike a chord in my mind, I start singing a song I learned when I was very little. It’s one of the first songs I remember my mother teaching me, and this is how it starts: Jesus loves me, this I know…
That’s usually as far as I get. Just that first line. Because that one line is enough to kick the symphony of negativity straight to the proverbial curb.