Sunday, July 22, 2012

Show Up or Shut Up

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. -James 2:17

It was a Saturday in early December of last year, and I had a choice to make.

I could get dressed up, do the ridiculous wiggling-into-pantyhose-dance, slip into a sweater-dress, brush my teeth, do my makeup, curl my hair, get in my car, and drive well nigh on 45 minutes, in the rain, no less, to a place I'd never been before to support someone I cared about but who I wasn't sure cared about me. Or I could stay home with my dog, who I know cares about me, and watch TV in my pajamas.

Guess which one I wanted to do?

I thought about it all day. I was decided, I was undecided. I told the person I was coming, and then I wasn't, and then that I might. I left it up in the air, because I didn't know just how much, when it came right down to it, I'd be willing to give.

The time drew near for me to get ready. So I got ready, just in case I decided to go.

I walked my dog, just in case.

I put on my dress and my pantyhose and my makeup, just in case.

I looked up directions, just in case.

But then, minutes from when I needed to leave, I sat forlornly on the couch thinking, “I really don't want to go. What's in it for me? Will this person even care? Probably not.”

As if on cue (because, of course, it was His cue), God answered simply, “Show up or shut up.”

As usual, I'm ashamed to say, it took conviction from God to make me get it.

So many times, we want our lives to move forward but we're not willing to show up to make that happen. We want it to just happen on its own, even if we're not conscious of it. I told God I was willing to do whatever it took, but when it came right down to it, He had to speak to me to get me off the couch! I'm learning that life (and by life, I mean God) doesn't work by wishing. He wants to know that we're going to take that step. He wants to know we're committed. He's not going to hand us something when He doesn't know what we're going to do with it.

He wants me to stop saying “This should be!” and start saying “What can I do to make this happen?”

Stop saying, “This should change!” and start saying “I'm going to work to change this.”

Stop saying, “That's a great idea!” and start saying, “Here's the next step to that idea.”

Because if I'm not can I expect anyone else to be willing? How can I expect others to be giving when I'm stingy? Gracious when I'm angry? Forgiving when I'm hard-hearted? Committed when I'm waffly? Sacrificial when I'm selfish?

How can I expect more from others than what I'm willing to give myself?

More than that - how can I ask God to take His 99 steps if I'm not willing to take my one?

I stood up, strapped on my heels, picked up my purse, kissed my poodle goodbye, and left. I drove white-knuckled through the rain. I showed up that night, only slightly worse for wear, and I'll never forget how surprised the person I was there to support was a result.

If you ask me right now, I'm not sure how much of a difference it made. I'd like to think my going was significant, that my presence showed the person support and encouragement and respect and that I can be counted on. But I don't know if any of that is true. I'm not sure how much it mattered, and maybe I'll never know.

But what I do know is that I showed up. I did what I knew I had to do, if I'm being honest, to live with myself. I did everything I could do – what I knew God wanted me to do. Because, as I replied back to God that night, well, Heaven knows I'm not going to shut up.