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The Princess and the Audition

Published January 20, 2014 by joypatton

Audition Poster

L’Audition by Himitsuhana

“I’m not going to audition for the musical.”  My young friend looked me in the eye and said it.  I asked a few follow up questions, but all her answers made sense.  She didn’t want to deal with the drama of the drama people.  She didn’t want all the stress because she knew she had a good chance of getting a major role.  She wanted to get a job and make some money, so she could go out and have fun with her friends her senior year.  She knew she wasn’t going to pursue anything with theater after she graduated, so she just didn’t see the point.

A few days later my young friend and her mom showed up at my door.  “We need you to give us some advice.”  Even though I was reluctant to give advice (said with false humility and sarcasm), I agreed to listen.  “Mom wants me to audition, and I don’t want to.”  Once again I listened to her well-thought out reasons and justifications.  Then I turned and heard her mom’s sadness as she thought of her daughter’s high school experience ending without the lead role in the spring musical.  Her mother had watched her light up on stage for years.  She watched her daughter soar in many shows, and she quietly beamed inside with pride.  Her mom had a hard time imagining watching the spring production without her daughter on stage, and yet my young friend insisted she was at peace with not auditioning.

After I encouraged my good friend to let her daughter make her own decisions and bear the burden of the potential regret, I turned and asked a few questions to my young friend, a struggling Ice Queen like myself.  How much of this decision is based on your desire for control?   To control your destiny and not do what everyone expects you to do?  How much is based on your desire for shock value?  The fact that everyone would be shocked that she didn’t audition because they all knew the part was hers.  Trust me, I get shock value.  I get the rush of the Ice Queen when people are surprised.  Which choice requires more faith?  She knew the cost of time and energy of having a major part in a musical.  It would cost a lot, and she was afraid that it would cost too much with little return.  She preferred the more predictable choice of the job at the local chocolate shop where she got a paycheck at the end of the week and predictable hours.

The Ice Queen does what she wants, but the Princess does what the Father wants.  The Ice Queen won’t go anywhere she doesn’t want to go, especially when she can’t see the end.  The Princess goes where the Father asks her to go, even if she doesn’t see the point.  The Ice Queen carefully measures her own time and energy, but the Princess trusts the King to give her the time and energy to do what he has called her to do.  The Ice Queen has to make her own provisions.  The Princess trusts the Father to provide for all her needs.  The Ice Queen seeks her own glory and carefully strategizes her placement.  The Princess trusts the Father to place her where she needs to be to glorify him.   

When they left, I didn’t know what my young friend would decide.  A few days later she told me that she had auditioned.   “It was the best audition I had ever given.  I usually walk away not liking what I did, but this time, I knew it went really well.”  That’s what happens when a Princess walks into a room trusting God to be at work.  The pressure isn’t on her because she is just doing what God made her to do.  The Ice Queen only trusts herself and her own ability, which makes her incredibly nervous because she knows her weaknesses.

After the audition, my young friend got a call back to audition again for the lead roles.  At one point, she decided not to participate in another reading for a different part that she didn’t want.  However she heard God tell her that she needed to go do everything that was asked of her.  Like a true Princess, she went back into the audition on the arm of the King, entrusting herself to him.  Providentially she was able to read again for the part she really wanted, an opportunity she wouldn’t have had if she had left.

A few days later the cast list was posted.  She had the female lead, the part everyone knew she would get.  But more importantly she learned what it felt like to completely trust the Father.  To walk into a situation, knowing that it was all up to him.  To set aside what she wanted and to do what he wanted her to do.  Now that she knows what that feels like, she will also know what it feels like when the Ice Queen is pushing, driving and not trusting the King to be in charge.

“… but [Jesus] continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (I Peter 2:23)

Maybe you don’t have an audition, but maybe he’s asking you to go into a job interview or on a date with that guy who keeps asking you. Maybe he’s asking you to make a phone call or write a letter, but you just don’t see the point.  No matter what the situation is, the question for the Princess still remains:  Will you entrust yourself to him?

Free Advice Friday: I need more patience.

Published March 22, 2013 by joypatton

I’ve heard a lot of people say this.  I recently even heard Jeff Probst admit that he wasn’t a very patient person on his show.  (This, by the way, is what I love about the show.)  Inevitably when someone realizes they lack patience, they next phrase is “I need to be more patient.”

However I would argue that this isn’t really what you need.  More patience isn’t something you can order off the cosmic menu and have show up at your door.  Neither is being more gentle or being more joyful.  I’ve found from personal experience you can’t will yourself out of  depression, nor can you will yourself to be more patient.

One thing that is helpful is getting to the root of the issue.  I bet that if you dig deep enough you will find that the behavior you are trying to prevent begins with not acknowledging your heart.  Your impatience with your husband comes out because you lack compassion for whatever he is dealing with.  Your impatience with coworkers who have bad ideas comes from the pride in your heart that your ideas are the best or your unwillingness to be honest with them about how you feel about their ideas.  My impatience with my kids comes because I think that guarding my reputation and being on time is more important than their hearts.  Often I find an idol or an even uglier sin that needs to be confessed and brought into light.  And when you do, confess it.  It’s just that simple.  Confess it to God and then if needed, confess to the people affected by your actions.  Yes, true repentance is painful, but it’s that pain that ultimately helps change my behavior.

The second thing is to realize that you can’t be more patient.  Do you know where patience comes from?  In Galatians 5:22, patience is listed as a fruit of the Spirit.  Fruits grow because they are attached to a tree that gives them what they need to grow.  God grants sun and rain to grow the fruit.  The fruit doesn’t decide in which season it will grow or how big it will get or how sweet it will be.  The best thing the fruit can do to promote its growth is to remain attached to the tree.

How do you stay attached to the tree that produces the fruits of the Spirit?  By believing that Jesus died on the cross to cover all your sin, including my impatience and whatever ugly thing is driving it.  Paul also encourages us to “keep in step” with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).  To me this also sounds a lot like the “abiding” Jesus encourages us to do in John 15.  It sounds a lot like how a fruit grows in a tree.

So instead of needing more patience, we really need more Jesus.  He is the source of all of those things.  Truthfully I have no ability to be more patient on my own apart from him.  If you see me being patience with my kids, giving my husband grace or being joyful on a bad day, it’s because of the Spirit at work in my life.  And on the days my abiding is less than stellar, you know what I need to do more?  Confess it.  And it all leads to more humility, more grace,, more patience because I realized that Jesus was humiliated on my behalf and has given infinite grace and patience to me on my worst days.  How could I withhold that from anyone else?

What would it look like to “abide more” today?

The Wall and the Window

Published July 31, 2012 by joypatton

She stands at the wall and sees no way around it, through it or over it.  The wall stretches for miles in both directions and towers above her head.  There is a small window in the wall, and when she stands on her tip toes, she can see all the way through to the other side.  It is beautiful and full of sunshine and life.  She sees it perfectly poised on the other side.  Her heart leaps with joy at the sight of it, and she knows she must have it.  She stretches her arm through the window, but alas the wall is too thick and the other side is simply out of reach.

She slumps at the base of the wall into a sobbing mess.  “Why would God let me see it and then make it so impossible to grasp?” she silently complains.  She lets out a sigh and her head drops to her knees.  God has bigger problems to solve than trying to help her get to the other side of the wall.  She should just be happy where she is and not complain.  Maybe this side of the wall is all that God has for her.  She feels guilty for even looking through the window in the first place.  She tries to list all of the good things on her side of the wall, but she can’t help but think how much better it would be on the other side.  But she can’t sit in this Orphan frame of mind any more.  She pulls herself to her feet and looks through the window again.

The other side is still just as beautiful as it was last time.  “Why would God let her see it if he didn’t want her to have it?”  She decides that she must do whatever it takes to get to the other side.  She walks for miles in both directions looking for a gate, a door, a giant crack…anything.  She finds nothing.  She contemplates building a ladder to get over the wall.  But that would take too much time.  She decides to climb over the wall and pushes her fingers into the cracks until they bleed.  But she drops to the ground and screams in frustration.  She furiously kicks and pounds the wall.  She tries to dismantle it brick by brick, but it will not budge.  Even the Ice Queen can’t find a way through the wall.

“I am here,” he whispered in her ear.  “I will be with you.”  She steps back and confesses that she has forgotten that God is present with her on this side of the wall.  “But I want to be on the other side,” she says to him.  “I know,” he says full of love and compassion.  She turns toward him and thanks him for being with her.  She thanks him for everything that she has on this side of the wall.  The two of them sit shoulder to shoulder looking at the wall and being with each other.  She remembers that she is His Princess and that she is with Him.  Her heart wants to be with Him more than anything on the other side of the wall.

This is a picture that my mentor Mary Grace Birkhead taught me a few years ago.  It has stuck with me whenever I see something I really want, but can’t get.  Sometimes it’s a perfect pair of black boots for my fall wardrobe or curtains for my bedroom.  Sometimes it’s children that actually obey the first time or something I want for our marriage.  But at this moment, the thing on the side of the wall is a publishing deal and speaking engagements.

Last weekend I went to She Speaks, a conference for Christian women speakers and writers, in Concord, NC, organized by Proverbs 31 ministries.  In January, I wrote this down as one of my goals for the year.  I saw it through the window, but standing between me and registration was money.  But God provided through generous friends who gave me the registration as a birthday present.  But then I hit another wall when I went to register.  No spots left.  Seriously, God?  I thought the wall was gone.  I signed up for the waiting list hoping against all hope that this wall would go away too.  And I waited.  I couldn’t push or make the wall move; I just had to wait and try not to let my Orphan thinking take over.

At the beginning of the year, I would have gone to the conference ready to promote myself, my book, my speaking ability, etc.  I would have shoved a business card on anyone I met hoping that it would fall in the right place.  But because of the walls and rejections that kept coming this spring, I barely believed that I could write or speak or have anything anyone would want to hear.  I wondered if I had been looking through the wrong window.  I had little self-confidence left and no desire to promote myself to anyone.  I was crumpled like an Orphan at the base of the wall.

But then the call came that there was a spot for me.  The sessions were full, and I was put on another waiting list for a writing group.  God had a spot for me there too.  As I drove all the way to North Carolina, I was thankful for the places God had given me and ready to receive whatever he had for me.  When I asked if there were openings in a speaker evaluation group, God placed for me in a perfect group.  When I asked if there were any openings to meet with publishers, God had a spot for me there too.  I had to wait and trust God with everything, every step, every meeting, every opportunity.  It was not my job to promote myself, it was my job to receive more of Him.

While I still don’t have a publishing deal or speaking engagements, I do have more of Him.  He reminded me of his great love for me and that I am still qualified, still called, still wanted, even on this side of the wall.  I don’t know whether the things I see through the window of the wall will ever come to pass.  I don’t know if he will make a way through the wall or if he will keep giving me more of himself on this side of the wall.  But I do know that he has called me to be His Princess.  At the wall, I can’t take the posture of the Orphan lost in despair or the Ice Queen full of self-determination.  As a Princess, all I can do is step back and worship Him.

Question: At this moment, what is on the other side of your wall?  What has your posture been at the wall?

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