Friday morning, I was up at 5:30! I haven't even seen 5:30 in years and years - except when I had the flu and was recovering from surgery.
By 6:15 I'd had breakfast, packed my car, filled my coffee cup - making 5:30 almost civilized – and was heading for Nashville.
Over the weekend, I was 'discovered' and will be singing duets with country stars by next week. HA! No, I was heading to Jon Acuff's Quitter conference. Jon writes the blog StuffChristiansLike.net. He's written a book of the same title as well as one titled “Quitter.”
The overall message of the conference, as I experienced it, was don't be ashamed of the dreams you hold that bring you joy. Pursue them, develop them, and understand that your dreams aren't only for you. You are the caretaker of your dreams. (By dreams, I don't mean when you're a ninja conquering the bad guys at the court house in your sleep. At least, for most of us that isn't what I mean – who am I to judge your dream?)
All that was wonderful. I took notes, networked and bought a poster. I go to every conference with a prayer for God to reveal His plan for my next step. Most times it's a glaring spotlight impossible to miss.
This conference had some solid information and direction for me. And then there was the “reveal”. It wasn't shiny and bright, but more a warm glow of companionship in those places of our hearts that we don't talk about. The party we throw then fear that no one will show up and they don't, or the voices we hear in our heads that remind us of who we “really” are. (This would be the kind that no medication c an help.)
Each of us have this cruel inner voice intent on speaking a message of doubts, accusations and hurtful memories until we sit down and shut up. Until we quit. Each of us. All of us. When we do, the voice becomes softer – just a whisper that keeps us in our seat. This weekend, we shared the message of our voice in public. Around the room of about 400 people, voices raised and we heard...
“You aren’t smart enough.”
“It didn't work last time.”
“You're too old.”
“You're too young.”
laughter - we began to see the reliability of this "voice"
“Who are you to think you have something to offer?”
“That's already been done.”
“Something that obvious doesn't need to be shared.”
If more people listened to that voice and responded by sitting down and shutting up – we wouldn't even be getting water at the well in the yard, reading by candlelight or riding to town in a horse drawn cart. All the dreams that brought us indoor plumbing, lighting and motorized transportation were fulfilled by people willing to be caretakers of their dreams. Willing to share their dreams with the world. They refused to be neutralized by that voice. Because of that, we're aware of need and injustice in our world and able to help people half a world away.
I believe we serve an outward enemy when we allow ourselves to entertain that inner voice. An enemy who wants our feet trapped and slowed by deep mud, hands tied behind our back, mouths covered with sticky duct tape. He promises us no rewards except the drudgery of nothing unexpected, no adventure, no risk, no faith and yet with that horrible voice speaking to us we sign on as accomplices.
I believe it's the opposition of the One wanting you to step onto a path he lights as you go. He has gifts for you and you must hold out your hands to receive them. He's placed a song in your heart and expects you to not only sing it, but live it.
My voice tells me, “You should've started 20 years ago. You'll never get past the learning stage. No one will take you seriously. Just look for ways to enjoy your life.”
So, what is the voice saying that threatens to make you sit down and shut up?