I’ve had a bit of an email exchange of late with someone who has struggled with visiting her parents because they always pressure her to sing for their fellowship when she’s there. She didn’t like the pressure and having been a performer in the past, she was concerned that being in that venue would trigger those old appetites for performance.
Our conversation was a bit about the difference between honoring our parents with love and respect and being manipulated by them. Honoring our parents doesn’t mean we do everything they ask. That’s control and co-dependence and a host of other things that aren’t healthy for them or us. But I also mentioned that the work God was doing in her would really make performance tasteless over time. That’s the way it has worked for me. When you start this journey you think you’re going to die giving up the old ways you enjoyed seeing your gifts touch others. But in time you come to see how empty that is, and when that’s true you’ll never be lured back to it again. That allows you to freely go in those environments when he asks you to to help trigger hunger in others, without fearing that it will drag you back into the same old bondage again.
This is her resonse. I love what she wrote here, especially about keeping our eyes focused on the pleasure and purpose of our Father:
Thanks for getting back to me, Wayne. I so relate to your experience. I believe that I have offered my gifts to be shared with my parents and their church because I really have come to a place where I just want to bless them and encourage them. I donâ€™t need to prove anything to them, and youâ€™re right, they probably wonâ€™t be able to comprehend what weâ€™re talking about. But I also feel in my heart that Iâ€™m weak, and could easily get sucked into these old patterns of performance. I spent some time with the Lord on these questions today, and He put me back in that wonderful, safe place of freedom with Him.
Over the past few years of listening to him, asking tons of questions like a child, and receiving healing, he has shown me that my performance-tendencies came from the fear of disappointing others. He really, really HATES fear! And today I was asking him what is the lie behind the fear that Iâ€™m feeling creeping up again. Hereâ€™s what he said the lie is: â€œIf my parents (or other authorities) donâ€™t affirm me, Iâ€™m a â€˜bad girlâ€™. I canâ€™t be trusted. Iâ€™m â€˜in sinâ€™.
And hereâ€™s what he spoke to the lie: â€œIf thatâ€™s true, then Iâ€™m a bad boy, I canâ€™t be trusted, and Iâ€™m a sinner too. In fact, thatâ€™s what the Pharisees accused me of. I overcame because I stayed tuned in and focused on the pleasures and purposes of My Father. You do what you do in freedom, when it originates with the Father. Fear and frustration come when it originates in your â€˜needâ€™ to please others.â€ His grace is such a SAFE PLACE and there is no manipulation or love withheld in him, even if my choice isnâ€™t â€œrightâ€.
What great language! Freedom in Father is unlike anything this world can offer. It can take you right back to where you used to be, to incarnate his love there, without being victimized by the expectations of others or by the fear that God will withhold his grace if we make a mistake. What a truly safe place to be!