Gratitude: Me

((from Bridget))

Your successes wound people.

I cringe even reading that.  Isn’t that statement painful?  Does it pierce and pang your soul as it has mine for over 20 years?  This is a lie I allowed Satan to feed me.  I graduated high school, Cum Laude, and yet I grew to fear “success” as I moved through university, medical school, and medical residency.  No one ever said this to me – I just heard it in my sensitive and enabling mind and Satan had a field day provoking it.

You see, I was born an identical twin.  She is my better half.  I have always loved being a twin – same voice, same look, tricks on April Fool’s Day, the whole bit.  Being identical, however, leads to one tough challenge- there is always someone to compare yourself to.  My parents were intentional in celebrating us as uniquely crafted individuals.  Jessica wore red, I wore blue.  Jessica played saxophone, I played piano.  But no matter how hard we tried, the world wanted us to be the same.  It was under the strain of this ever-present tension where my lie was birthed.

The beauty of being a daughter of the King, however, is that the LORD never allowed me to stay stuck in that lie.  In 2010, at a retreat weekend led by a dear friend, we were encouraged to identify any lie being carried around in our hearts or minds.  Then, we were challenged to find God’s truth available to replace that lie.  It was a powerful weekend.  I felt lighter in the freedom of His truth which was this:

The world needs a COMPLETE Bridget backed by the COMPLETE Holy Spirit.

I wrote His truth down and have carried it in my Bible since.  The problem, however, was how comfortable I had become hiding behind the lie.  Here I had God’s truth delivered to me and I was afraid to act on it.  I questioned whether the world was really ready for all of me in my ‘completeness’.  I am energetic, loud, will hug anything sitting still, and I’ve never met a room who left strangers.  But here I was afraid to step on toes, hurt feelings, or be seen as “too much”, “obnoxious”, or “showing off.”

I committed to the slow and steady work and I am here today to declare that I am closer to His truth than ever before!!!  As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I am overjoyed to declare my anthem of thankfulness for His patience, guidance, and truth that has carried me.  Here, let me share some details:

Almost a life-time ago I took a spiritual gifts inventory and one of my strongest gifts was exhortation.  “Oh great, I get to be a loud mouth for Jesus” is literally what I said to myself.  

I was so busy critiquing who I was not that I had forgotten to celebrate who I was.

I avoided public speaking for almost a decade and then the LORD had enough of my disobedience.  It started with a few invitations to share my testimony or moved up to the benediction at a dear friend’s funeral service.  I then began preaching on a fairly regular basis here in Uganda because well, that’s what you do once you’re a missionary, right?

Preaching led to more comfort and more accuracy in my discernment of His Spirit’s voice.  I loved the time spent in His word preparing for each sermon, and the intimacy with Him was intoxicating.  We then moved here to Otino Waa and I was invited to speak on a weekly radio program, a program that had ONE MILLION LISTENERS – hilarious, right?  Here I was, a present day Jonah running in the opposite direction from my gift of exhortation, and the LORD lines up a weekly radio spot!

It was February of 2016 when I distinctively heard the LORD invite me into the world of writing.  After some wrestling, I started a personal blog and the vulnerability of my exhortation took off exponentially.  Fast forward another 1.5 years and here I am blogging weekly (I hope you can chuckle along at His sense of humor).  Graciously, the LORD started me in the radio booth, preaching in a third world country, and blogging as a comfortable baby step.  It was tolerable behind the anonymity of the studio microphone, the computer screen, and the comradery of my translators.  I felt I could temper my FULLNESS as long as I navigated in these arenas alone.  

But then, He called me into more.  I was in the USA for 3 weeks this fall for our ministry’s annual fundraising campaign.  As part of our role as directors, we have the privilege to annually share snippets of the world-changing stories we see every day.  The ministry work here is extraordinary, the people are class-acts, and the miracles are endless – so this required public speaking has always felt effortless.  I could stand any day, any hour, and brag on all that God is doing here at Otino Waa.  

I was also invited to preach at my home church while back for this 3 week tour.  Again, I have had my 10 minutes even on this home church stage, with the scripted questions and seminary graduates to bail me out should I steer us too far off course.  But preach!?!  Were they sure?  Was I ready?  What was God thinking?

Friends, I LOVED it!!!  Better than that, I truly believe HE LOVED IT!!  I felt the fullness of His Spirit lead and guide and approve of every syllable shared that morning.  I had the FULLNESS of His Spirit backing me and I laid it all out there – offering the FULLNESS of who I am for all the congregation to see.  

His truth was set aflame and it was beautiful.  I saw how He sees me and that was all that mattered.  There might have been those who thought “she’s obnoxious, she’s too much, or she’s showing off”, but I was caught up in the approval and truth of my Redeemer alone.

What do you have to be thankful for?  

Where has He been moving and growing you in your walk with Him?  

What anthem do you need to declare this Thanksgiving?

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:6-7

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