A Confession

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think I am not a very good witness. Actually, I know I am not a very good witness. I have no valid excuse. I love the people; I love them to the core of my being, and I will cry and pray over their plight. I cannot dispute what humankind deserves, though I hate to think of it, but somewhere before the rubber hits the road there must be a disconnect because I know I am not a very good witness. In my silence I will lose them. Because in so many ways I can be found guilty of doing nothing. Yes, I try to live my faith to the best of my ability. You can read my Christian t-shirt, or folder, or locker magnet. But somewhere  between the alter and the door, or between Sunday and Monday I lose resolve in my responses.

I am not very good at in-person debates. Give me the written word and some time to think, and I will delight in debating, but I am not very good at responses. The crucial moment comes, and my neutral response passes without conflict.  Another moment passes unseized,  another scenario to replay late into the night. There is a difference between not doing wrong, and doing right. As I think I consider my ‘friends’. (Friends as in people  I see and talk to daily; people I care about, though they apparently don’t know me beyond the surface.) Do they know my passion? Do they know my failings? Do they see me leaning on God? As someone who advocates vulnerability am I real with them? Sometimes I am forced to wonder…When they are surprised that I say “I’m screwed.” before a test. She said “I like that you.” I said “What?”

I don’t try to have a good girl persona. I get depressed too. If they don’t even know that part of me then how can they know something deeper, like faith? I see these people every weekday. Minutes add up to hours, and hours add up to days. Days of my life spent with these who do not even know me. I’m not a very good witness even though I care deeply. This makes me mad, and sad, and dissatisfied. How can anyone make it through life without God? How can I stand not  to tell them? That’s wrong…To keep the truth hidden inside. I do care, but my responses are off. They draw out the tough girl in me, or  the good girl, or maybe just the passive chameleon. I don’t try to change who I am with different people. I want to be  the same me always. I want to be consistent because inconsistency irks me. Sometimes I think I don’t know  how to be a good witness, and sometimes I think that’s just  an excuse. I’m frustrated with myself today: how could I let something that important go by the wayside? There is a chance I could save someone from drowning, and here I stand observing saying “I think I’m not a very good witness…”

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Categories: My Life, Ponderings, rants | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “A Confession

  1. I think I am not a very good witness.” I think it is good to examine ourselves and consider our shortcomings as ambassadors for Christ. Even Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20). The appeal of the security of silence is one Paul even saw as a dangerous allure for him.

    I don’t know the particular personal conduct you are reflecting on, so I can’t weigh in on that. But I will share some thinking on the general topic of witness and gifting and you can decide if there is any application to your situation.

    First, I notice you put an emphasis on speaking. You said, “In my silence I will lose them.” Speaking is certainly part of bearing witness, but witness encompasses much more than that. Your witness is grounded in what you do. My great uncle Doug had a poem memorized called “I’d Rather See a Sermon” by Edgar A. Guest which puts in more poetic form the idea that “talk is cheap.” You can say all the right words in the world, but if you do not live them what you will have become is not a great witness but rather a great hypocrite. People pay a great deal more attention to what you do than you might realize, and people are very sensitive to hypocrisy. You might talk a great talk, but if you don’t walk the great walk it is worthless as a witness.

    Preoccupy yourself first with living the witness of Christ and I suggest you will find the proper measure of talking will come more naturally.

    I say “proper measure” because….

    Second, I think you may be expecting too much talking of yourself. What we are all told is, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15). Notice the emphasis I placed–we are all obligated to answer anyone who asks, just as we are all obligated to live the proper witness for Christ. But not all of us have been given the particular gift of an evangelist to boldly declare to the world unasked.

    Paul says, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Cor. 12:29-30) with the answer being no, we do not all have the same gifts. And again he says, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,” (Eph. 4:11). Each of us have been given different gifts, and not all of us are the same. Not all of us are mouths, hands, or feet, in the body of Christ.

    A person not equipped as a teacher can do an awful lot of damage trying to act like a teacher. Likewise, a person can become of stumbling block if they try to take up the role of an evangelist when God has not given them that gift. But not only can this mis-appropriation of spiritual gifts cause harm to others, but it can harm ourselves when we become weighed down with guilt and condemnation for having failed to fulfill a particular role–a role God was not even calling or equipping us to fulfill! Satan loves to whisper in our ear how we have failed at this or that and aren’t living up to our duty, when it isn’t a duty God has laid on us. Satan loves to have us weighed down with guilt and condemnation.

    Imagine someone came to you upset that they were a “failure” because they weren’t exercising the gift of working miracles and so weren’t giving a proper witness to Christ. You might agree that working miracles is a great witness for Christ, but you would probably point out to them that not everyone is given the gift of working miracles and it was wrong of them to expect that gifting of themselves when God had not given it to them, nor expected it of them. You would probably encourage them that they were not a failure for lacking that gift, and you would point them to exercising the gifts that God actually had given them.

    I want to be careful here because I have not met you personally, and only know you so well as what you have written accurately reflects your person. So what I am about to say about you is a suggestion–for you to think about and pray about–not something I say as an assertion.

    It seems to me, based upon what you have written here, that you are expecting of yourself the activity of an evangelist when you have not been gifted as such. You have written both in this post, and previously, about your passion and activity of prayer. This seems to suggest that you have the gift of intercession. Your talents in writing may indicate you have other gifts to go along with that–the ability of encouragement or exhortation perhaps.

    But Satan would love for you to put a duty and burden on yourself that God has not called you to bear, and Satan would thus be very happy if you felt guilty and defeated for not doing something that God hasn’t called you to do.

    We are not all hands, feet, eyes, or mouths in the body of Christ. We all acknowledge that in abstract, but the application requires faith. Are you willing to perform your role as an intercessor to pray for those God has laid on your heart and trust that in answer to your prayers He will bring someone gifted in evangelism into their lives? Recognizing that God has gifted every member of his body differently requires us to trust Him to supply people as needful and not try to do everything ourselves.

    Are you willing to be what God has called you to be, and not what you think you must be?

    Let me be clear. I am not saying you don’t have an obligation to live a life worthy of the calling you have received, or that you don’t have an obligation to give an answer to those who ask about the hope you have. Jesus should not be a dirty little secret you keep locked up in your closet. But the way you wrote this posts makes it seem like you are, perhaps, struggling with putting the obligation of an evangelist on yourself–and you haven’t really made the case that you have been given the gift of an evangelist. So be careful what burdens you lay on yourself.

    It is important to be true to yourself (Christ in you), so you do bring up important points when you say, “I don’t try to change who I am with different people. I want to be the same me always. I want to be consistent because inconsistency irks me.” Always strive to be consistent, open, honest, and real–not a hypocrite, not a crowd pleaser. But also remember that a proper word in one instance may be ill chosen in another instance, or with another person. So there is a balance between being true to who you are, and also being wise in your speech and conduct.

    Further, there is the slippery habit of thinking you’re supposed to be someone who you are not. You say, “I am not very good at in-person debates. Give me the written word and some time to think, and I will delight in debating, but I am not very good at responses” Those realities doesn’t make them faults that you should beat yourself up about. So God may not have gifted you to be a mouth in the body of Christ. God has not gifted all of us with the ability to perform in-person debates. What God may call you to do is go home and pray for that person, not engage them in verbal swordplay. Rather than feeling bad that you are not a different type of person, consider how you can embrace the type of person God has made you to be, to His glory.

    Another moment passes unseized, another scenario to replay late into the night.” I do that replaying scenarios late into the night a lot. You are not alone with that. I think there is some good in reflecting and considering how we might speak/do better in the future, but it also can become a little “I’m going to beat myself up because I wasn’t perfect” session. It’s a hard balance. Sometimes you have to just let it go to God and say, “I don’t know how good or bad I did–I know it wasn’t perfect–but God you do something with it.”

    I’m sure you have faults, and that daily there are ways you could improve in your conduct, thoughts, and speech. I know there is for me. But I do want to challenge your thinking. Are you attempting to carry burdens God has not called you to carry? Are you trying to exercise gifts God has not given you? Are you trying to be someone God has not called you to be? Who has God called you to be? What expressions of His grace has He given you?

    Things to think about. No nice neat little answers.

    • It seems every time I post something negative about myself here ya’ll are so encouraging, and deny it. 😉 I had wondered if this would happen. I agree that our actions do (to be cliche) speak louder than our words. Though I think that we can be silent in our actions as well, which I may also be guilty of and need to confess. There is no neutral ground; all ‘neutral ground’ is Satan’s grounds. As Jesus said, all who are not for Him are against Him.

      That said, I do agree with what you said, and see it played out in my life to an extent. However, I’m not ready to proclaim myself not guilty just yet. But, to address your second point. I must say the “to give an answer to anyone who asks ” was encouraging. I must often mentally leave off that part of the verse. I was found brain-dead without an answer last summer, and I became very frustrated with myself. I don’t plan to let that happen again!

      I suppose part of why I struggle so hard with this is because my passion for the lost is so strong. I know I can’t force my beliefs upon them, but I want to take every opportunity to help save them from hell (as if I could do that) that I possibly can. I’ve struggled often with weather or not I’ve been gifted as a teacher. My Mom is, and through her I’ve had much opportunity to teach. I can teach well. I struggle when things are not being taught well, as I proved to myself again this morning while helping in Sunday-school.

      You are quite correct! I’ve taken the little ‘gifts test’ for what it’s worth and come out with intercession, encouragement, and exhortation on top (not to mention writing and discernment). I wish I could remember where teacher was on my final list. I will say that I have a passion for my generation, but of course that doesn’t necessarily make me a good teacher.

      I also find your discussion of different answers for different times exceedingly helpful. Thank you! For years I’ve cringed whenever someone talks about not changing within surroundings I’ve cringed, though I try my best to be myself everywhere. In fact, while I’m at it let me thank you for this whole article. It has helped me to gain perspective, and I appreciate your time in writing.

      Yes, scenarios into the night is hard. I sometimes wonder if it might be a bit of a ‘writer thing’, but maybe it is also universal. It is hard to draw the line between wanting to be perfect, and learning from mistakes. “No nice neat little answers.” Thank you. I hate it when people try to give me pat answers, and I love that you didn’t do that.

      Well, I’m out of time, and I shall probably find numerous mistakes when I return. But I wanted to reply to at least one comment of yours. I do plan on replying to the one on elder care soon. See ya then!

      • It seems every time I post something negative about myself here ya’ll are so encouraging, and deny it. 😉 ” Now, now, now! I didn’t say you weren’t guilty, I just said I couldn’t comment on that 😉

        In fact, while I’m at it let me thank you for this whole article. It has helped me to gain perspective, and I appreciate your time in writing.” Well, you are quite welcome. I enjoy engaging you in conversation and interacting with your thoughts so it was no problem. My hope was to bring another perspective. I can’t truly comment on the particulars of your circumstance because they are so dependent on the exact situation, etc. As I said before, since we are all less than perfect I am sure there are areas that need correction and repentence in your life–just as there are in mine. But I know we all look at our own lives (even myself) from a particular narrow perspective which can miss or distort things. We can condemn ourselves when we ought not be condemned, and excuse ourselves when we ought not to be exused. And then there are things to which we are blind. In offering some thoughts on the broader truths, I hoped it would help you to take another look at your own situation. If I helped you do this, I am glad.

        I’ve taken the little ‘gifts test’ for what it’s worth […]” Yeah, I don’t put any stock in those tests. I believe God pours out His spiritual gifting according to His unsearchable will, and that such gifts are recognized by spiritual discernment, not a test metric. Such tests can be amusing to take, and by happenstance they may end up saying what is actually true, but I don’t think they should be taken as speaking for the Spirit of God. (Not implying you disagree with that, just being clear on my views.) It bothers me that some people have gone on to become pastors because a test told them that should.

        Yes, scenarios into the night is hard. I sometimes wonder if it might be a bit of a ‘writer thing’, but maybe it is also universal.” I think a bit of it is universal, but I am pretty sure it is a particularly strong affliction of the writer’s personality. I admit that after having engaged in a long verbal discussion with someone I have stayed up late going over the conversation in my head and later wrote long letters expanding my thoughts and arguments in finer detail to the (lucky? unlucky?) recipents. Most people wouldn’t do that, or even consider doing that. Heh. It takes a special person to be able to tolerate my reams writing for long.

        I do plan on replying to the one on elder care soon. See ya then!” Looking forward to your thoughts. See ya then!

      • Just wanted to add a P.S.

        You said, “I struggle when things are not being taught well […]” and I wanted to say that bothers me as well. I try to avoid being in situations where I must witness poor teaching because it distresses me.

      • Yes. But see, my philosophy is that avoiding it hurts the people being taught if you know you can help. Because honestly what the teacher was teaching on Sunday wasn’t incorrect, actually it was very good, but it went above the student’s heads. We went to memorize the Bible verse, and I finally stopped biting my tongue and asked if they knew what it meant. All of them said no. Maybe this is why I am forcing the gift of teaching on myself…because I know I could do better.

      • I guess I misunderstood what type of situation you had in mind. When I said, “I try to avoid being in situations where I must witness poor teaching because it distresses me” I invisioned a Church situation where you are obligated to remain silent. The Pastor preaches and you keep your mouth shut, no matter what. I find that distressing because (among other things) I share your philosophy that “avoiding it [speaking up] hurts the people being taught if you know you can help” Not only do I find it frustrating if I am obligated to keep silent when someone is teaching poorly, but I find it particularly troubling when I am expected to keep silent when someone is teaching wrongly.

        I think people should be expected to speak up, and in some sense have an obligation to do so. If the “rules” of the church (whether literal formal rules, or just the “unwritten” ones) dictate that everyone is supposed to be silent I typically find it best to remove myself. That is what I was referring too. I find it difficult and distressing to sit silently by, so if the church in question is not interested in contributions and wants me to shut up I had probably better leave. The alternative seems to be to either (a) wrong my conscience or (b) start a conflict with those in authority.

        From your further comments I see you had a different situation in mind. I commend you for prompting a more healthy discourse.

  2. I think Silverwarethief has said it very well. Let me just say I agree with him, “Dittos”. And…you are young, so much of your giftings are also still developing, and will continue to do so most of your life. Also, the Gospel of Christ itself, is a sword that many people are not drawn to. The Gospel separates those who desire, and those who reject. It may not be that your light is weak, it is simply that many of your friends are resisting it. (Also, don’t think you’re Supergirl. I write a lot about that.) One last thing, I nominated you for the Beautiful Bloggers Award. Hope you enjoy it. (P.S. This is another great article, by the way. I hope people come from my site, checking on the Award, and read it.) Let Christ shine “the way he will shine through YOU”, let it flow naturally, and be at peace, Sister. Continue loving our Lord.

    • It may not be that your light is weak, it is simply that many of your friends are resisting it. Thank you. Your words do help a lot. It’s so much easier to get perspective with outside views on a situation.

      Thank you so much for the nomination! I’m very new to these things though. 😉 I read the post on your blog, but other than that how does it work?

      Again, thank you for your kind and helpful words. I treasure mentors where I can find them.

      • You’re very welcome! As far as the Award…you’re simply supposed to thank the person who nominated you, and link it so people can visit…then you’re supposed to list 7 things about yourself…and then list and link 7 blog sites you enjoy. Oh! and you’re supposed to copy the Award to your site as well. The award is a great way to pass word around about sites you like, and therefore, others will check them out and possibly like them, too. I have found several sites I enjoy in just that way. Have fun with it!

  3. I’ve been going through Romans and the study of grace that the act of the cross released is amazing, there is no more condemnation, you or I can not do anything to deserve forgiveness, thats the beauty of grace its an undeserved gift. If we could do something to attain it on our own Christ would not have had to die for us on the cross. Dont condemn yourself. 2 Corinthians 3:18 you look into a mirror and see Christ s reflection, mirror works 2 ways he sees you both images sinless and blameless because of grace, a mirror does not look into past or future but the here and now. You are sinless and perfect to him now.

    • Yes. This is something I’ve been struggling with. The balance between “It is by grace you have been saved, not by works, lest any man should boast.” and “Faith without works is dead.”

      My family tells me that I tend to lean towards the latter, and I am forced to agree. I think though that it may be because I’ve seen so many Christian fakers and very desperately want to be unlike them. I want my faith to be very much alive, and I want to follow the great commission with fervor.

      Thank you for your comment. All of these different views have helped me to gain perspective!

  4. : JUST WENT THROUGH AND RE READY YOUR BLOG. THAT CONDEMNATION THING CAN SO BEAT ONE INTO A PLACE WHERE YOU DO NOTHING AT ALL BECAUSE OF SHAME. REMEMBER IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU STRUGGLING TO ATTAIN SOME EVANGELISTIC SKILL SO YOU CAN NOTCH YOUR BIBLE WITH HOW MANY SOULS YOU SAVED. IT’S ABOUT JESUS AND HIS GRACE FOR US IN OUR BROKENNESS, ITS A FREE GIFT. SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND ALL THE OTHER STUFF WILL FOLLOW.

    • True, though I have no plans of doing nothing. In fact, a part of the reason I posted this was as something to incite myself to action. I agree totally that “notching your bible” (excellent, interesting metaphor by the way) is a bad motive, and that God should be first.

      No problem, about the caps. If you hadn’t said it was nothing I might have wondered, but we all make mistakes sometimes.

  5. Not sure how that came out all caps, I wasn’t yelling

  6. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I really like this post. I can relate. 🙂

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