Times of change cause us much turmoil. They disrupt life. They challenge us to grow exponentially in ways we never thought possible. It is fitting that as we enter into the season of fall we relate the physical changes of our environment to the changes we are experiencing in life. This journey to rediscover oneself is an invitation to discern where these changes can be leading us.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
The adventure of such self discovery begins with that first step out of our comfort zone. Stretching us beyond the familiar and transforming our weaknesses into strengths. Such a transformation demands a child like faith and total surrender to His will.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
My parish pastor gave an excellent explanation of discernment and how it differs from making a decision. He shared how it is easy to distinguish between what we like and don’t like or what is good verses what is bad. That is not discernment. Discernment, he describes as deep prayerful consideration, to choose between what is good and what is good. His words stuck with me that Sunday. Within weeks of sharing these words he announced his leaving of our parish and stepping away from priestly duties. Shock and awe don’t even begin to describe the state of unbelief I was in as I tried to process his announcement.
His words spoke to the affliction I had journeyed through just a short time ago. I enjoyed a fulfilling role in ministry of which I knew was the result of answered prayers. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24. The challenge for me came when I noticed that I could no longer meet my responsibilities and obligations without cynicism or judgment. My head had clouded my heart in the ministry I so longed to be a part of and it was showing. I could see it. Others could see it. I knew that I indeed needed to relinquish my role for the sake of all those I was serving regardless of my own fulfillment in the role. In my mind, I was doing more damage than good being so cynical. Little did I know just how much I identified with that role of service and how I had let it come to define who I was. I felt so silly to feel so lost over a role I willingly gave up. I knew it was what I needed to do, but I didn’t know that it would affect me so deeply.
After confiding in trusted friends of my turmoil I was prompted to search within my own being for what I got out of this role of serving in ministry. This further lead me to question my need to serve in general. An arduous road with a view worth every labored step. My conclusions are quite self serving and jaded by a time when I felt more like a floor mat than a servile companion. I am a people pleaser and I know this about myself. What I did not know is that I am so dependent on serving others that I don’t allow myself to be served by others. I can reluctantly receive help. However, to be served and not raise a finger but only a word of gratitude is awkwardly foreign. I have concluded that even service comes in seasons. A season to serve others and a season to be served by others. Servile work is a personal passion of which I have discovered has limits. A season of saying no to serving so that I may better be of service when the time comes again is beyond my comfort zone. This is my place to exhibit childlike faith and total surrender. I know it’s insanely petty and very small of me; however, this is what makes me uncomfortable. A completely petty and silly self-discovery.
One of my outward acts of regaining my identity outside of service was getting comfortable with me as God created me. That meant finding comfort in my own skin. Seizing an opportunity to perpetuate the silly self-centered self-discovery, I hosted a selfie photo-shoot.
Accepting my quirks, my faults, my weaknesses and my dimpled smile, I scrolled through each silly pic, deleting the ones that weren’t so self-serving, of course. I was working on boosting confidence after all. This photo shoot was just for me until just a few weeks ago. I am a fan of Instagram’s Weekend Hashtag projects. A photo challenge project with a new theme every weekend. A recent theme was #WHPimperfections of which asked participants to photograph imperfections to show how mistakes and flaws can be photographed in a beautiful way. Well, after a year of turmoil and rediscovery of myself it was only fitting to share my imperfect #selfie with new-found confidence.
“I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.” Psalms 139:14,
A silly, small minded and totally self-serving post I know. However this was a deeply intimate journey of overcoming personal fears and limitations. I ventured to step out beyond myself and trust in His plan as an act of living out that child like faith we are called to. A faith that transcends and transforms any earthly limitations. I discovered that the turmoil we face in our ever changing lives is an opportunity to live out our faith in an extreme way. As the saying goes it is easy to have faith when life is easy, but when life gets tough; that’s where the faithful are reborn. Is that how it goes? Well, that is how it played out for me. Emerging from this petty journey of self service, I am confident in my own abilities to conquer my doubting self and have a deeper appreciation for what I believe to be my purpose in life; to serve others.
Time to get unsettled! You are invited to join me in the journey of self-serving discovery by stepping out of your comfort zone whatever that may look like for you. Be it a small step or a giant leap pray for His loving embrace and go for it! Trust that your prayer has already been answered! Don’t forget to share a pic with me, @ginafelter, on instagram using #loveyourselfie. May we support each other in our journey of discovering thy self and to Him be all the glory!
Copyright 2015 Gina Felter.
Images copyright 2015 Gina Felter. All rights reserved.