I am sitting very still. Leaning into the invitation offered by the nuance of God’s presence that I sense in this room, I abandon cool. I silence my soul and listen as I ask Holy Spirt to reveal my deepest fear.
Moments earlier, our instructor had said that dreaded word, “share.” My wide brown eyes as if on cue, locked onto the nearest flaming red exit sign. It looked to me like a warm fire on a chilly night. I was drawn to it’s comfort.
He obviously doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know that I’m the cool girl. Can’t he tell by the way I’m sitting? Doesn’t he see the cool, blue, cotton dress I’m wearing? I once walked a city block in sweltering heat and never broke a sweat. I epitomize cool, and cool girls don’t “share.”
There is too much at stake to “share” today. Being an African American woman gathered in this room of 10 non-African American people, who before this assignment seemed more familiar but now put the strange in stranger; I felt the weight of responsibility closing in on me. “I can’t be the spokeswoman for 13% of the female population in the United States,” I reasoned. Race Relations are on the line. I couldn’t possibly “share.”
He prodded gently and firmly, “Who’s first? Share your deepest fear.” There he stood beside the cushy “share chair” as I wriggled in my cold, steel folding seat now transformed into a torture device. His words were haunting and alluring. I was defiant and compelled synchronously. But wait..hadn’t I come to be trained as a trainer for a character development program for youth? What is this about?!? I protested in my heart. Then, without warning like a gentle hand on an angry shoulder this thought corralled me, “Or had I been bade to come by the Father Himself for something greater?” I think there’s something greater.
This is how I arrived at stillness. This is when that classroom became the throne room and these people a cloud of witnesses. I felt Holy Spirit digging a deep well in my soul past fleeting worry, occasional anxiety and superficial fear to answer the question He’d been waiting for me to ask. I felt Him expose what had nested there, creviced and cowering in the corner, cloaked in the darkness and stealthily debilitating my life for over 30 years. He unearthed it in a nanosecond. “You’re afraid of the bottom falling out.”
“Where did this fear come from?” No sooner than I asked in my heart, did my mind flicker with images of the day I drew the line in the sand. I was 12 years old and had just found out my dad had been murdered. Standing in the living room of my grandmother’s house I learned that anything could happen. And I deduced that to live too expansive only meant that WHEN the bottom fell out the tumble down would be great. So I made a conscious decision to never get my hopes up too high, never get too excited and never forget where I’d come from- a family forever altered by tragedy. I was panicked at what the Spirit’s mining revealed.
Impulsively, I made my way to the “share chair” to get THIS out of me. It no longer mattered who was in the room. I “shared’ confessed before an audience of One. Three minutes later I felt relieved and raw and more vulnerable than if I’d just stripped naked and danced the hokey pokey.
My confession is not the thing that broke me. It was this plea from an unknown mouth with penetrating eyes that conveyed the deepest empathy and sincerest grief of a dear friend. Who was this man?
“Shenay, I’m so sorry that you lost your father. No little girl should ever have to enter the world without the assurance and protection of her father. But are you going to let a 12 year old little girl plan the rest of your life?”
There was no bone left in my body. I could’ve been mopped up like water. The box my mini me had created for our security had become a cage I’d outgrown. And I, diminished and retarded in my growth had made that cage my home.
Ids chosen to live in this unlocked cage. A cage of realistic expectations, a cage of manageable influence, a cage of somewhere in the middle. A cage of metered growth. A cage of, ” it is what it is.” A “cool” cage.
In this moment, though my heart was inside out, I gathered enough strength to answer a definitive, “No, I am ready for more.”
I never thought of “No” as a holy word until it wrestled free my life’s agenda from the hands of a scared scarred 12 year old girl.
I never thought “No.” would be sacred enough to place my future hopes squarely in the palm of the One who knows the plan He has for me, one to prosper me and not harm me. This was the something greater I had come for.
“No.” gave Heavenly Father permission to be someone for me that I’d never let Him be. My life planner. And now, “No.” has paradoxically open doors and cut bars of iron unleashing a landslide of abundance and opportunities that I silently longed for through the cage.
“No,” that day in the share chair, broke my covenant with a 12 year old girl who built a box called “maturity” to keep us secure and sane. I said goodbye to her as I put away childish things and whispered with childlike faith, ” I am ready for so much more.”
Holy Spirit make us brave enough to permit you to unearth what lodges in the dirt of our soul. And through the Word that you inspire grow faith in us that is commendable to you. AMEN.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in an everlasting way.” Psalms 139:23-24 NASB