This post comes from something that someone said to me recently. Being relatively new to a church, folks don't know me and are probably still trying to work us out!
But for me there is an unseen battle when it comes to praying out in gatherings of more than a small homegroup, of sharing in a meeting any bigger than a few people. For many years my confidence was low. To say something in public is not 'safe' - it was an area where I tried to protect myself as much as possible. However there has been much encouragement over years from others to have confidence when God laid something on my heart to open my mouth - it's about Him and not me! The battle prior to opening my mouth in a meeting is one of 'Is it right? Is it God? Does it fit? Does it glorify God? Is it helpful? Is it in the flow of what the Spirit is doing right now in this meeting?' My thoughts do overtime! Very often I will whisper to Malcolm if it is something to share and see if he nods - he is part of helping me with the summoning the confidence step to move - I trust him and know that he will tell me if something doesn't fit.
But there is another battle which usually comes after I pray or speak out - it is a harsh and personal battle - one of condemnation over some of my past journey. Voices that seem to point out everything wrong with sharing. A cloud often gathers over me after I have spoken out. I have truly appreciated folks telling me if something I shared has encouraged, spoken to or blessed them - but simply because it helps me to know that I have heard right and that encouragement keeps me asking God what is on His heart.
I have often joked with Malcolm that it is a lose / lose situation for me - if I don't open my mouth then I feel condemnation that God gave me something and I didn't act on bringing it and if I do open my mouth there is a heaviness that it wasn't right or condemnation!
For me I know when it isn't me - my heart will beat in my head before I speak - something I really can't manufacture. It is a real sense of 'this isn't me' but I still have to rally the courage and open my mouth or move from my seat. Immediately after I will be quite shakey and have to take a moment to calm myself and breathe. Often Malcolm will whisper something like 'that was spot on' or 'you are ok' just words of encouragement. Folks don't see and don't know this personal battle - it is unseen often unspoken except between me and my husband.
Today I wonder what others see - an emotional woman praying or speaking out - not realising the nerves, fear, anxiety and courage that are all mixed underneath as I open my mouth!? Part of my learning and walk with God is having a soft heart to listen and then obey........... but what happens when someone speaks something that causes you to think that you should not contribute? What about those days when you hear many encouragements and then one discouragement whose voice is louder than all the positive comments. I have thought about this a lot in the last day - hearing what someone thinks personally and at the same time as taking on board their comments remembering that if God lays something on my heart then I have a responsibility to speak that out. May we continually seek God before we open our mouths in meetings, before we pray or share. Let's be in step with Him - walk / run at His pace!
I wonder if others have the same sort of battle and if it too is unseen..................