My shoot is done! It went so well, I am thankful.
It was a beautiful day in Mississippi. I filmed a young man named Marshall, someone who truly represents rural America. He wore a hunting ball cap the whole time. And many of the young white men I saw were in camo type outfits. Everything about them screamed salt of the earth. We filmed Marshall sitting next to a tractor, and then walking in between old Mustangs, rusting and overgrown by weeds in a field. We filmed him hanging out with his family, the kids roasting marshmallows over a bonfire next to their trailer, while his mom and step dad sat on the tailgate of a pickup truck. We filmed him walking down a dirt road with his best friend, a huge African American teddy bear of a guy, with fishing poles over their shoulders, horsing around as they ambled along. The best friend was like family to his whole family. Black or white, it made no difference.
But what I wanted to write about was the drive there. I left in such a rotten mood. I didn’t want to leave my safe comfortable environment.
But I had determined to let this be a road trip with God, an opportunity for me to time to spend with God and have God spend time with me. As the hours went by in the car, I talked to God like he was right there, tangible, in front of me. And then I was quiet, trying to hear what He said in reply. I put on an audio Bible, and listened to the book of Mark.
After a while, it really struck me how different this was than my usual life and devotional time, My life is still so much about me, filtered through me, including my prayer and study time.
This time was totally about God. Totally putting things at his feet. Totally straining to to seek His will. Totally stilling myself and my thrashing of insecurity, my shrinking from fear.
Because God is THERE, huge, all around me. And yet I flap around, oblivious, caught up in my plans and schemes.
“He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. In fact, he is never far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28
When will I learn to sit in utter silence and reverence before Him?
I focused on just pleasing Him. I’ve been thinking of this more and more lately. I get so tied in knots otherwise. My emotions react disproportionately lately, so if I even perceive someone is unhappy with me, I struggle. I HAVE to just focus on God and pleasing Him. Because I’ll never please myself. And I’ll never feel like I’m pleasing others.
And as I spent this road trip time with God, I learned things, I saw things, He gave me answers. One thing that I hope will make a difference was my meditation on self worth. I was crying to God, struggling with feelings of inadequacy. I thought of how my ministry had changed. I felt ineffective. I wasn’t sure what direction my life should take. I begged God to show me if I should take a part time job, or find something else to employ my time and skills.
Then a friend called, someone I’ve spent several years with, talking about God, studying the Bible, trying to help her come to faith. She has been so stuck, and the crux of the matter is also her low self esteem. She tries every day to do so much, and it is never enough.
In the way that God always works, the advice I gave her was the wisdom I need to apply to myself. I told her self worth doesn’t come from what you do, but who you are. All the great things we accomplish don’t change who we are, we’re still the same person. We’ve just taken our strengths and applied them.
I keep trying to prove something. I keep trying to do things that will affirm that I have worth. But my worth is in the way God created me. He made me a person who has to do things that are deeply meaningful. Someone who needs to see and connect with beauty. Someone who is creative, and loves to come up with ideas, and organize. This is who I am.
Everyone is in a similar situation. It is their unique combination of personal traits that gives them value. I confess, I want to esteem those with intelligence, talent and skills. But as I was reminded in the shoot in Mississippi, the people who are the salt of the earth have vital qualities. After all, Jesus chose fishermen, and entrusted the future of all of us to them.
These people may not have the polished clothes, hairstyles and lifestyles of the “rest of us.” They may not have the education and “breeding.” But they have just as great intrinsic worth. And if they have great worth, then I have great worth as well.
I know better, but I realize that I put an emphasis on dressing right, having my house look a certain way, and so on, to show that I have worth. Then of course, I judge others according to whether they meet these standards.
So instead of running around trying to prove myself, I must do the opposite. I must do nothing. I must see that God is ALL. He is flat out in front of me, solid, the matrix of my existence.
Instead of seeking to exalt myself, I must humble myself, seeing who He is, building a relationship with Him.
And then He will exalt me. That is the only source of genuine exaltation. It is the only way to build real self esteem.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10