Katy Perry's song Roar hit the airwaves en force last month. Since then it has become an anthem for discouraged, seemingly-defeated-but-resilient people everywhere. Just yesterday Richard showed me a YouTube video with kids in a children's hospital lip-syncing to this song. There's no way around it--I'm inspired.
Given my 'no love' stance toward Taylor Swift, you might assume Katy Perry was on my 'do not listen' list as well. But you'd be wrong. If I were interviewing nannies, I would go with Taylor, but otherwise--Katy's my girl. I can't help it. She has talent and soul. And, every once in a while I see remnants of holy in her.
With the release of her new album, Prism, this week she's been widely interviewed about the inspiration for her songs. It doesn't take a degree in poetry to gather that she's writing about a time of difficulty in her life. In her interviews she confirms that she went through a period that took a toll on her self esteem. But it was out of that darkness that Roar was birthed. (Apparently hyper-sexuality was also part of the healing process, but I'll leave that alone for now.)
As a woman who has a daughter and who works with women leaders to help them find their voice, Roar should be my theme song. You can't hold me down! I'm a fighter! You hear my voice...like thunder, gonna shake the ground! I'm a champion! Roar!
But I tell you...
There's only one problem. God isn't asking me to roar. I'm not saying that having some fight isn't often what's called for, I'm simply observing that the way of Jesus is, more often than not, a much quieter path.
Today I wanted to roar. I'm physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. As I meditated and prayed this morning I secretly hoped I would emerge from this time feeling energetic and ready to take on the world. After all, isn't that how the agreement works? I plug into the power source of the Holy Spirit and, just like my iPhone in the morning, I leave fully charged and ready for another day of productive activity?
I'm currently taking a class on the Disciplines of the Spirit and one of our textbooks is a favorite of mine...The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun. This week we completed a brief assessment designed to surface where God might desire to shape us. I faithfully completed the assessment and moved on to the reflection questions. What I hoped would come out in my reflection was a sense of deep rest and encouragement. I found myself drawn to the disciplines of Sabbath and listening to God.
Inwardly I crouched, waiting for my time to roar.
And then, he spoke.
"Kelli, ask a friend to show you your blind spots."
"Kelli, you've wounded another friend. Ask for forgiveness."
So, let me clarify. I feel tired and vulnerable and God wants me to invite someone to point out areas of weakness of which I'm blissfully unaware. And then he wants me to admit to another that I've neglected our friendship.
Just what I was hoping for.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
After accepting his invitation I am more amazed at God's faithfulness and grace. But I do not feel like roaring. On the contrary, I feel more dependent, quieter, still tender.
I love Katy Perry, but, for now, she'll have to roar without me.
I have always loved school.
The day I graduated from college I wanted to go back. Each morning on my way to work and each evening on my drive home I passed my Alma Mater and the pit in my stomach would often bubble up into tears. Part of it was the mundaneness of my work and even the remote possibility that I might sit at that desk for the next 40 years. Adulthood was not what I'd thought. But mostly, I missed the classroom. Learning new things every day. Analyzing theories, discussing ideas and formulating opinions. I loved it when my brain hurt and when a concept clicked and when I was able to articulate a point clearly.
On the day of my graduation ceremony I requested the day off. I was working as a trainer at Discover Card and in the middle of a new hire class. Richard and I were newly married and he was unable to get the time off. It didn't matter. I donned my cap and gown and approached the arena with the sea of other graduates.
It all seemed so anticlimactic. A meaningless formality.
I was so alone and I couldn't hold back the tears of sadness and loss as I entered the building. While I watched other graduates pack up their cars to head back to their new, post-college life and what I assumed was a bright shiny new job or the opportunity to continue with their education, I headed back to work. The same job I had the day before. One that didn't require a college degree or a love of ideas.
Its not that I had any idea of what I wanted to do or what I would get my Masters in if I could go back. In one sense it wouldn't have mattered. Had I known then what I know now I would have just picked one and started the process. But I was still fairly fragile emotionally and wasn't able to identify what I wanted and even if I'd have known what I wanted I had not yet found my voice.
Richard and I agreed that he would complete his Masters and then I'd pursue mine. He knew what he wanted to do and he had a scholarship to move forward without any cost to us. It was a logical decision and I fully supported this path. The one downside was the length of the program. It was a 96 hour Masters, involving four years of study. But we were young and time seemed abundant.
Richard is smart and hard working and he completed his M. Div. in the time he promised. I'm the one who changed the program. By the end of his studies I was desperate to start a family. I knew that meant my Masters would have to wait. I had poor problem solving skills, was a black and white thinker and was struggling with depression. In my mind I only had a couple of options.
Looking back I think I could have made it work with just slightly more patience and emotional strength, but it was not to be. Soon I was pregnant with Caleb and my direction was set.
In one breath I will tell you I wish I'd pursued more education earlier in my life. But then I consider my years as a mother and its simply no contest. 'Mom' is my favorite title. My kids are such a source of joy and character building and amazement and learning! I postponed a piece of paper and traded it in for one of the greatest gifts of my life--parenting my kids. Not to mention that apparently I didn't need more formal education to accomplish all that God had for me to this point.
But now its time. This week I started my first class in my Masters program--Introduction to Spiritual Formation. I'm enrolled in a Masters in Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Spring Arbor University and am completing an online degree. Only 19 years after I originally intended to begin.
In his book, The Wonder of Girls, Michael Gurian suggests that one of the most important lessons we need to teach our daughters is the reality of choices. With the great strides made in opportunities for women, many of our girls are overwhelmed by their choices. And, they are mistakenly told that they can 'have it all'. They can have a successful career, a thriving marriage, be the perfect mom, a marathon runner and a wine connoisseur. All of those things might be possible, but not at the same time! Our girls need to know (and have modeled) how to make choices about what they want to excel in at different seasons of their life. Identifying their values, then learning to prioritize accordingly.
I've found this to be true in my own life and I hope Madison is watching. I may not be able to have it all. But I have all I need and more than I deserve! It was definitely worth the wait.
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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