Today I am sharing part two of my three-part series on Change. (I feel like a preacher… “My three-part series.” Ha!) If you have not had the opportunity to read part one, “Don’t Ignore the Change,” I strongly encourage you to start there.
Disclaimer: As I mentioned last week, the introduction may be a bit lengthy, but please read all of it even if in multiple sittings.
I have a friend who, in some rights, just became an author as he and other scholars compiled a collection of devotionals to be published. After reading his portion, among others, I reached out to him to give him my congratulations and take away. After an intellectual conversation about the context of his civically conscious devotional, he briefly shared with me the process that he endured from his first submission to the pressed copy that I read. As an English major, he was no stranger to writing papers, but this wasn’t just the average research paper. Not to say he wasn’t a good writer who couldn’t rise to the occasion, but his original draft was returned to him with suggested edits. It was pretty comical to hear my friend, who is beyond confident *insert eye roll*, tell me how he felt some kind of way that his work was critiqued and wasn’t accepted on the first submission. (Personally, I was cracking up on the inside.) What he said next resonated with me in a greater way than he probably intended. He said,
“Edits are a part of this kind of process.”
I can remember being sixteen years old and writing out what I thought would be the plan for the next ten plus years of my life. This elaborate plan contained details concerning everything from the age I’d graduate from college, to how old I’d be when I got married, to when I would have my first and final child. All of this…at sixteen. For the record, NONE of the things I jotted down, especially while playing a riveting game of M.A.S.H., came to pass; nonetheless, that didn’t discourage me from writing out a new plan year after year. Like my friend who was no stranger to writing papers, I am no stranger to conjuring up what I think is supposed to happen in my life whether I feel led of God or not. I often make a list and check it twice, but that doesn’t always mean that my expectations will become my reality. I’ll even go a step further and say that there have been times when I was clearly walking out the will of God for my life, but he called an audible and switched the play without my consent. (That’s a football reference. *smirk*) But why would God seemingly change up the script especially when he wrote it?
I am currently rehearsing for what will be my fifth stage play and the third where I have had a leading role. As a matter of fact, I am the star of this play! My cast mates and I received our original scripts on January 20th, and by the first week of February, we received updated scripts. As we have rehearsed and our characters have begun to fully develop, there have been changes here and there. One thing I really like about my director, Neisha, is she will give us the creative liberty to occasionally add to or go off of the script to fully convey what the character is trying to portray in a particular scene. Still from time to time she will reel us back in or scrap what we just said by saying, “Instead of saying that, say this. I want the scene to go here instead of there.” Though at times it can be frustrating because I am having to learn something new that isn’t on the script, whether typed by her or added by me, I understand that she, as the director and writer, sees something that I cannot see as the actor. I am only able to see the scene from my point of view, but she sees from the perspective of the author who wrote both the beginning and the ending of the play. She knows how the story should end and what should be the expected response; I am only acting this out scene by scene. There will be times when she demands a stronger emotion because, in her words, “Y’all are here, and I need the scene to get here,” while using her hands for effect. Basically there is something greater coming that we need to quickly build up to. Let me pause and answer my previous question as to why God would seemingly change up the script especially when he wrote it. I am reminded of the many times while growing up in church that I heard of God being “The alpha and omega – the beginning and the end.” Hebrews 12:2 refers to him as the “author and finisher of our faith.” I’d like to think of him as the playwright and director of our lives. God has the sovereignty to change the version of the script that I am reading at anytime without consulting me first. The truth is, he already knew of the changes long before they occurred as they are not changes to him but only to me. So here I am acting out my scene, following my plan, and living out his will, and God is like, “I’m ready to up the ante because I have something bigger than what she imagined that I need her to build up to. I have something greater for her to do, and she needs to get there.” Subsequently, he’ll flip this, change that, remove this, add that, require this, provide that so I can get to where I need to be and do what I need to do at HIS appointed time.
“Edits are a part of this kind of process.”
I just can’t let that go.
The truth is, I don’t like change. I am a Type A, control freak, logical type of woman. I like details and specifics, and I even if I’m “going with the flow,” it is a very calculated maneuver. I know that seems like an oxymoron… I’m Christen, what did you expect? Simply put when God comes and scrambles up my eggs, I can’t say that I’m always happy about it. The fact is, the end result is always good – read Jeremiah 29:11 to see how God only has good plans for you – but the process can be bothersome. I don’t like to be bothered, and I’m not too keen on my normal being interrupted.
On January 26, 2010, my mother suddenly passed away. She was the founding and senior pastor of my church. My oldest brother, Ray, served as the Director of Media, and the brother right above me, Cedric, served as the Director of Worship and Fine Arts. I was merely a choir and praise team member. I faithfully sung in the background and occasionally led a song or two. Trust me, I was VERY content. At that time in my life, I was not interested in writing or recording music of my own, at best I wanted to be a background singer who traveled the world. Well, upon my mother’s sudden passing, the “edits” began happening. Cedric immediately became the co-pastor alongside my father and would be appointed as the senior pastor just two years later. I suddenly was thrust from the background as a faithful doo-wop singer to the Director of Worship and Fine Arts where I have served since 2010. As of last year, Ray has shifted from being the Director of Media to becoming the Executive Pastor working side-by-side with Cedric. Within the last nine years, my assignment has shifted from just being of support to be leader, I have since tapped into my gifting as a song writer and “recording artist,” and I have a passion for not only leading people in worship but training others to do the same. Being in the front as a leader gave me the confidence to began opening up and sharing, and in 2012 “According to Chris” was birthed. While encouraging others through this blog, I found my own courage to take leaps and go back to school for cosmetology. I am but two examinations away from being a licensed stylist and fully launching my own business. All of this was catapulted by one of the biggest [and worst] changes of my life: my mother passing away. The truth is, I had a plan nine years ago that included me having a measure of success with her still alive to see it, but God handed me a new script that revealed my character in a much greater capacity despite those major edits.
“There is always a measure of discomfort in destiny.”
-Pastor Cedric Rouson
(That’s my brother/pastor, y’all!)
I can remember in the fourth grade going through a major growth spurt. My feet grew three shoe sizes in one year (my poor parents’ bank account), and I grew a few inches taller. Sadly, I stopped growing taller in the fifth grade, and I have been five feet, four and a half inches for the past nineteen years. Anyway, I digress. I can remember having pains in my back, shoulders, and legs that I had never felt before, not to mention the discomfort I felt because my shoes were always too small not long after I got them. My mother explained that with growth comes discomfort. Because I have always been a dramatic being, I just knew that the pain would cause me to surely die. I was quickly reminded that what I was experiencing was not trauma, it was growing pains.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to submit to you that the discomfort that you are feeling in this season, on this level, and at this time are merely the growing pains caused by the stretching that God is requiring of you. I know that you have enjoyed the script that you have been acting out for quite sometime, but for this kind of process, edits are necessary. See here’s the thing, who you are and where you are, even with as good as it may be, is not the end all be all. There is more required of you, AND God has already invested in you what you need to fulfill that requirement. With that said, drawing from my experience, God will make you uncomfortable with what you have become proficient with and prompt you to have faith in him so that you can continue to transform into who and what he needs you to be. That process can be uncomfortable. The truth is, I don’t like being a novice at anything, so much so that I will sometimes avoid trying something new for fear that I won’t be the best at it. This isn’t just limited to skills and talents, I don’t like being incompetent as it relates to anything. So just when I become content with where I am and how I do what I do, God will stretch me to learn something new which requires me relinquish my pride. Ooo, y’all, I have such a pride issue.
I can guarantee that even with whatever glimpses God has given you about your destiny, you have not seen the full picture; therefore, these little edits may not make any sense. I’ll be honest enough to admit that I still have moments of grief when I question why God took my mother away from me. Then there are times when it is so clear that his divine sovereignty has shifted me closer to my destiny. If everything around you seems to be shifting, if it’s starting to feel uncomfortable, and feels as if things are changing, GOOD! God has handed you a new script, and you are just acting through the process. It may not feel good, but this is a necessary change.
Part three next week…
I hope this helps.