“Your approval means nothing to me,” John 5:41
I’m not even exactly sure how or why I tried out for the play that sophomore year in high school. I can’t remember if my friend was auditioning and talked me into it, or if after watching the play the previous spring, I was just drawn to it. Either way, somehow, I found the courage to audition, and landed a small part in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; I’d rather not say which role… (okay, it was the part of the floozie that crawled through the window – but don’t judge, okay?)
Somehow though, being up on that stage, I “came alive”. It was there that I was more comfortable than any other place I knew. I was not – am not – the best actor, but something about it came naturally to me, and it made me feel like I’d finally found something I was good at.
I continued acting up through my senior year and was excited to land the part of Meg in “Crimes of the Heart” (again, don’t judge). The other two roles were played by my (amazingly talented) friends and the three of us lit up the stage. The drama teacher even requested that we be judged by the state! It was, well, pretty freaking awesome! J
And then the feedback from the judges came in.
Please don’t get me wrong, it was all fantastic! In fact, I don’t think there were any negative comments at all – except one.
One brief statement made out of observation from a woman I did not even know.
One brief statement that took something I enjoyed more than anything, and made it into something I never wanted to do again.
“She’s [me] obviously been told she’s a good actor.”
Wow. Is that what people thought of me? That I was haughty and overconfident?
Man. That hurt.
The hardest part about those words was that they left me feeling guilty and undeserving about finding something that brought me to life. I didn’t want people to think I was proud or arrogant, I mean, I was just doing what I loved. But if they did not approve, I didn’t want any part of it.
I stepped down from my “acting” career, and vowed to never take the stage again.
Fast forward a few years and you would find me sitting in the top row (I’m talking nosebleed section!) at a Women of Faith conference. The music was amazing and the speakers were incredible. Clearly God was using these women as His instruments to reach the hearts of all who were present.
That was the first time in a long time that I felt something stir inside me. Something that said, “That is what you were made for…”
Nearly ten years beyond that, God gave me a vision – I was on stage, speaking to an audience, and as I looked down, I saw my husband, Mike, with my two boys sitting in the front row. (Now, if I may digress briefly, let me clarify I was in no way, shape or form a poster child for God! I was dirtied by my own past choices – soiled by selfish decisions and destructive actions. But God wanted me to see beyond that! Even though that was my past, it wasn’t what God intended for my future. God wanted to use me! When He looked at me, He saw a woman He could use for His purpose and His glory. I just had to believe Him.)
It took over twelve years for me to get over someone else’s opinion and find the courage to get back on stage. Twelve years for God to gently remove layers of hesitation and doubt about my gift. Twelve years for me to realize man’s opinion didn’t matter- His did.
When I finally took to the stage again, it was out of obedience – not for man’s approval, but for God’s. I had written and performed a monologue about depression for our women’s church retreat. When I was up there, something (some One) made me “come alive” again. Not because of what I did, but because of what He was able to do through me.
God designed me for a purpose. He designed all of us for a purpose – His purpose! Each of us has gifts and talents – things that come so naturally to us that we rarely recognize them as such – to be used in ways that bring God and His Son all the honor and glory. The cool thing is when we use our gifts for Him, we soon learn that we are the ones receiving the greatest gift. A gift of love and approval from the only One who matters.
Thank you, Father, for designing me just as you wanted – with skills and talents to be used to serve your people! Please, Lord, use me as an instrument to further your kingdom. Help me to be submissive to your call in my life. Rid me of any desire to seek man’s approval, but instead let me only be consumed by passion for yours. Please, Jesus, keep me humble and obedient so I might one day stand before you and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In Your holy name,