And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
“You have been deemed fit.” Those two words-“deemed fit.” They had me sitting in my chair, fighting back choking sobs. For you to understand why, you would have to understand how many times, and for how many years I had felt “unfit.”
It started long ago, really. Society has placed so many rules on how people should look, act, dress, what jobs a person should have-especially if you look a certain way. Especially if you are a woman. If you do happen to secure a new job, there are expectations others have of you, likely based on who your predecessor was. And if you don’t meet these expectations, then you are not worthy. You even get a job description, and sometimes demands are placed on you and listed under that “other duties as assigned” listing that are not quite right, fair, or just. It seems we are always being measured. Sized up. Determined if we are “deemed fit” for whatever starring role we are at any given moment.
The expectations we have of our leaders who preach the word are just as hard to live up to at times. And I have felt the pressure of feeling unfit, unworthy, and useless underneath these unneccessary weights. The pressures placed on me by manmade expectations. How I wore my hair. Whether short or with color. My piercings. My tattoos. My voice. My dress. The programs I decided to run. If I moved too fast towards a vision, or too slow. Nothing ever seemed good enough. But I moved to please people anyway, until I lost someone important.
Me. I lost me. The me whom God created, because with all the people-pleasing I had no idea who she even was.
When God calls us to ministry, He calls us with the unique talents He has equipped us with, and if we let it, the world can highjack these gifts, and tell us we need to be, do, and use something totally different. And that is what I did.
I spent years doing what others wanted because it was always done before, and it would make others happy. I lost confidence, passion, vision, and stayed silent in an effort-that’s right to please others and keep them happy. And I even questioned if God got it right after all, and contemplated quitting.
But I didn’t quit.
It took almost 8 years, and a year in which I was actually not deemed fit, and had to be mentored for a year. A year in which I dug deep, and searched internally, and asked God to “search me and know my heart” and reveal anything that needed to be corrected (Psalm 139:23). Long, painful processes in which I felt unworthy to get to the culimination of being ordained in the Church of the Nazarene as an Elder this weekend.
I was asked several times this weekend what it felt like to get to this point. To stand up front. To be prayed for. To receive the ordination certificate. Recieive this prize.
“Like your wedding day?” No. Not quite. I also performed a wedding this weekend. And no, I remember mine as well, and I wouldn’t put them in the same category. You plan differently. You choose who is there. The moments, months, days before are (usually) filled with joy.
“Like a graudation?” No. I mean, maybe for me. I was the first to graduate from a 4 year school in my family. Definitely to get a masters. So yes, triumphant. And, going to school with 3 kids and a job was hard. But…still not the same battle this was. I never contemplated quitting.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timonthy 4:7-8, NLT
I turned to my husband right before we walked to be prayed over and I told him: “I know what it feels like. It feels like the scene in Rocky. When he defeats…Creed?” He quickly corrected me…”The Russian, Drago. This is like Drago. Good versus Evil.”
Yes, and instead of receiving a heavyweight belt. I received a crown of righteousness. Because as the General Superintendent laid his hands on my head and prayed, that is what it felt like. Like I was being crowned.
I had fought a fight, because the enemy wanted my doubts about my calling to overtake my soul. He would have been tickled pink if I had quit. But I didn’t. I kept the faith, and remembered what the Word had taught me, and I remained faithful to Him. To the gifts and talents He had given me, and the mission He had called me to, and the prize awaited me.
Have I arrived? No! But, I am a living, breathing testimony that if God can do this for me-He can do this for so many like me. I am privileged and honored to be called by Him to be his hands and feet.