Monday, May 18, 2015

The Courage to Let Go

There are 50 million reasons why I delayed releasing my new book, The Secret of the Lantern, for almost six weeks after finally getting the Bishop's approval. I would like to say that I was waiting for the ideal timing, something marketable and memorable. That wouldn't be the truth, though.

Wrestling with Insecurity

I delayed because I was insecure. In spite of having written, rewritten, rewritten, and rewritten again, edited, proof-read, and edited some more, I was still fighting my insecurities. What if this book wasn't going to be any good? What if nobody liked it? It was stage fright, just turned in the direction of the written word rather than a performing art.

So, I made excuses. I considered delaying it for the 500th time - perhaps until August and the Feast of the Assumption. Or maybe until October and the month of the Rosary, the anniversary of the Dancing Sun at Fatima. But in the end, it was God who spoke and helped me to stop making excuses and just let it go.

The Pain of Rejection

A week before this, I received an email rejecting me for part of a ministry that was specifically tailored to Catechetical Artistry. The rejection I could have handled, but the email was written as a personal attack, essentially telling me that I should stick with writing as my lyrics and melodies were "unprofessional" and couldn't be improved even with the help of a 7 piece band.

I knew that my voice was solid. It wasn't something I could help but know. Every church where I've ever visited, I have people coming up to me and asking me to join their choir. I have made it to round three of a national singing competition, beating out a stadium full of other people from all across the country. I am not bragging when I say that I am good. I am stating a fact that has been affirmed for me by countless people.

However, her charge of me being an unprofessional was entirely true. I wasn't a professional. I hadn't studied or taken voice. My sole instruction in vocal performance came from various church choir ministers over the years, and that's pretty scant. I am rough, raw, unrefined. I know this, too.

The response I got, coupled with my existing insecurities about the book, led me to doubt myself. Maybe I wasn't prepared. Maybe I didn't have what it took. Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I wasn't really called to ministry. After all, I wasn't a professional. What did I have to offer that couldn't be beat by someone like that?

God and the Calling

I attended my weekly prayer group last Wednesday, not really expecting to find an answer to the doubts that were swirling around inside of me. We were doing a reflection on Jesus calling the initial 4 Apostles to him. There they were, just some ordinary fisherman. Tired after a long night of work, mending their nets, minding their own business. They weren't trained theologians. They weren't professional teachers or ministers. They were just rough, raw, and unrefined men with good hearts and the willingness to do one thing well - say "Yes" to following after Jesus wherever he might lead them.

Maybe they didn't even realize it was going to be a lifelong calling, that they would leave behind their families and their work. Maybe they thought they were just going with him for a little while, just to see where he was going to lead them. But the point is, they followed. Ignorant, uneducated, and unprofessional - he called them and they went.

And that's when I realized what God was trying to tell me. He didn't need me to be a professional. He didn't need me to be educated or refined. He just needed me to be willing to follow him wherever he would lead me, to let him show me the way. I don't even have to know for how long or to what end, so long as I follow him.  That's what finally gave me the courage to go ahead and release the book.

The Courage to Follow

The funny thing is that's what this book is really about - about helping people to find the courage it takes to follow God no matter where he leads us. It is about allowing God to use us to shine light in the darkness no matter how many people try to stop us - and not giving in to the fear that we're too young, too uneducated, too ignorant, too small, or too human to be useful. God can use us no matter where we're at in life. All we have to do is follow after Him, and let go.

The Reality of Following

I don't mean to imply that following Christ will be easy. You will find it a greater challenge than anything else you've ever done. You will experience suffering. You will experience doubt. You will be tempted to give up. You're following in the footsteps of Christ, and that means following Him all the way up Golgotha carrying your cross the whole way. It also means you'll be nailed to that cross eventually.

However, it is a promise that if God is calling you, He will give you the grace you need to fulfill that calling. You don't have to wait until you know everything. You don't have to wait to follow him until your life is in order and you have figured it out. Follow Him today, as you are, and trust that He will give you what you need to meet that calling.

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