I’ve been wanting to share something for a while now. It has to do with the “platform.” But circumstances and timing delayed the message. Now, though, I can’t help but wonder if Thursday had to happen first. Because that’s when I snapped this shot of my little Annabelle…
And surely God provided me with a picture of my younger self through this image. Oh, I may not have looked this way outwardly when I took my stand some four and a half years ago, but undoubtedly, it’s how I felt inwardly.
For I was full of vim and vinegar when I chose my platform. Passion and fire and zest. Woefully, I was full of some other stuff, too. Mostly myself. I was full of me and what I knew…
I just didn’t realize that.
It was just as my daughter’s shirt proclaims. I thought I was Ms. Smarty Pants and I wanted everyone to know it. Starting with my church.
Little ones learn quick, that’s for sure. Like in the pictures above. The first time Annabelle saw that mister she grabbed a hold of it and started singing into it like it was a microphone… as if her voice would be amplified.
And Thursday when I told her to put the lid on the Rubbermaid box, she resisted. No, she said. “I need somewhere to stand.” And that’s when I stopped my cleaning and reached for the camera. Because this little girl of mine decidedly chose a platform for herself. Somehow, she already knows that to be seen and heard, you need a place from which to stand and a means to get your voice out there.
And this is where I was not that long ago. And it’s where I continue to find myself. Subconsciously, I am seeking a platform. A place to project my voice. A place of visibility. But more importantly, it’s a high place a seek. Because the higher I am, the easier it is to be seen.
And so much easier to be heard…
Platform: 1. A raised level surface on which people or things stand. A raised floor or stage used by public speakers or performers so that they can be seen by an audience. 2. The declared policy of a political party or group – an opportunity to voice one’s views or initiate action.
Four and a half years ago, I wanted to share my heart. And I thought my motives were pure. I did. I never realized my true intent, which was to showcase newly acquired knowledge. As I said, I believed myself to be Ms. Smarty Pants.
However, I was at a new church and barely known. So it mattered naught that I was full of fire and passion and determination. I just couldn’t find a niche. No foot hold available as there were no women’s Sunday school classes, just mixed groups. And no women’s Bible studies, only children’s activities.
So there was nowhere for me to open my mouth. I couldn’t release the pressure built up within…
Thus, I felt stifled. And though I exhibited a smooth exterior, inwardly I rolled with anger. White-hot rage, really. And before I knew what had happened, I developed a platform. A cause for fighting. My hook?
Especially the right for a woman to be heard. Because I felt like we weren’t. Not where I found myself in the Winter of 2013. There just didn’t seem to be much opportunity for a woman. But finally, a Women’s service gave me the chance I was waiting for. That’s when I was asked to share Scripture.
It was a simple task, really. Just pick a Bible verse or two and read it. But me being me, I was driven to do more. I wanted to tell everyone every thing I knew. And I thought the time had come to do so. Thus, I took my stand upon the platform of my choosing. I issued the call.
Open your mouths and speak.
The Lord speaks; many, many women spread the good news.
This is probably one of my most humiliating memories. And without a doubt, this is the beginning of my fall. Oh, it’s exactly as Oswald Chambers says… “sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall.”
Because this is the moment my heavenly Father began to discipline me for prideful behavior. And this is where He began humbling me. Lower and lower I descended. It just took me some years to figure it all out.
See, I took a stand. I started with Psalm 68:11…
And because my speech wasn’t motivated by love, I was nothing more than a sounding gong when I pointed out how the King James Version, along with other versions of the Bible, omit women from this text.
I wondered why and hoped they would to.
Next, I went so far as to backhandedly insult our Sunday School class. It was a couple’s study and I mentioned how I’d heard multiple times, “Now, this part is really more for the men…” I voiced my dissatisfaction. I implored, “But what about the women?”
So, I exhorted the women who sat in pews to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I reminded them that Jesus appeared to Mary first. A woman. And He gave her a charge. One of “Go and tell.”
Do you think I resembled Annabelle in that picture… I wonder if I made wild gestures throwing my arms wide, hoping to draw the crowd in to my argument. Hoping they’d see things my way.
Afterward, I was pleased with my performance. Thought I’d done well. Had no clue it was a spirit of divisiveness and gender rivalry that motivated my speech. And that what I’d really done was stir things up rather than build people up.
No, I was much too caught up in the excitement of it all. Thrilled I was able to use the platform to further my cause. Hopeful I’d initiate some female action. Because I extended the call.
Take your stand and be heard…
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
I’ve written about this before. I’ve shared about my haughtiness prior to speaking, telling a couple of gals I couldn’t just sit still for two years. This upon hearing of the church’s rule. A person could not lead a study till they’d been a member for two full years, and that was my heart’s desire… to lead women’s Bible study.
I previously shared about the WMU Director asking me just before the service if she should ask the invited speaker what Scripture I should read. Oh, the shock my face must have registered. No, I said. I’d already prepared…
The woman had no clue I’d typed up a full page of notes to which my husband inquired days before, “How much time do you have?”
But there’s more to it. The most humbling side of the story. And it’s what I haven’t told before. Not to this degree. Because it goes to the heart of what my Father has been trying to teach me all along.
About womanhood and a woman’s right.
And more importantly, about my role in His kingdom.
It’s about my kids. It’s always been about them. And my role as mom. Even this women’s service from February of 2013 was about that. See, my son had been so sick the night before. His fever had spiked to over 103. And I sat up with him and worried and cried and called people. Because it just wouldn’t go down.
And in my pride, I felt it was a spiritual attack. Just the devil trying to keep me from church.
Thus, when morning came, I left Levi home with his daddy. The fever was gone so I thought it was okay. Moreover, I believed I had very important business to tend to at church. I had that sermonette to preach. A platform to ascend. My face to show and my voice to project.
In effect, sadly, I chose platform over my child.
When the preacher asked where Jason was, I felt ire. How dare he question me! Didn’t he know I had an important task that morning? In defense of my husband staying home with my child, I told him I had to read Scripture.
And I did. Afterward, I heard my first teaching on the Titus 2 woman. But her words didn’t register with me…
They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, pure, good homemakers… Titus 2:3-4
I do recall an uneasy feeling. But also, I remember feeling justification when she spoke of the Titus 2 man. Because when she read the portion about his being worthy of respect, she posed the question to the men of our congregation, “Do you demand your respect or do you earn it.”
Inside, I did a fist pump. Yeah, I thought, you tell them! Because the truth is, I was so angry. I was filled with rage with several of our male members. Men who wore suits and appeared arrogant and haughty to me.
And yet, I never saw my own arrogance and haughtiness. I never realized God was posing the question to me. Through that speaker’s mouth, He was inquiring …
“Pam, are you demanding respect or are you earning it?”
Well, I was demanding it. I was in a new place, virtually unknown, and it wasn’t God I was pointing to when I read Scripture. I was pointing to me and what I knew. And that’s exactly what I used my platform for.
Hear what I have to say and respect me for my knowledge. Me. A woman.
Thus, I missed the Titus 2 lesson altogether. The one about being a good homemaker and loving my children…
I’m ashamed to say it took some time before the lesson took. Because the picture above was taken at the ER last May. Just over a year ago. Know where I was? Not there.
See, I had an important task to attend to. Let me just say it had to do with being known, furthering my circle, and developing my platform. And just as before, I felt attacked. Thought it was the devil trying to keep me from something I needed to do.
So I sent my son to the hospital with his daddy.
I didn’t go.
And today, I know the truth. It wasn’t the devil and it was not a spiritual attack. It was a test. Pure and simple. Would I choose me? Or would I choose my children. Unfortunately, I chose wrongly…
I chose my platform.
a quiet and gentle spirit…
God brought me to this phrase weeks ago. It stood out because it doesn’t describe how I’ve been acting. See, I’ve been seeking a platform. A place from which to be heard. And growing up, I wasn’t heard. No, I was much too quiet and shy. Thus, I thought one should be bold and loud and aggressive to garner attention.
So, I made it my aim to be that way. So I’d get noticed and heard. And I tasted a bit of that. However, I later found myself in a church where I was literally put into a corner. I didn’t like it.
So, I looked for ways to raise myself up. Blogging helped. That got me the notice I desired. So I ascended a tad higher through that venture. My platform broadened. But you know, this is not the way of Jesus.
And what struck me recently is…
Jesus did not seek a platform!
He did not seek an audience. Instead, the crowds were drawn to Him by His gentle and quiet nature. It was His lowliness that appealed to the masses.
The gentleness possessed by Jesus is the opposite of self-assertedness and self-interest. His humbleness means He did not rise far from the ground. He was assigned to a lower position and devoid of haughtiness. And that quiet spirit? It means to properly keep one’s seat.
And that speaks loudly today. Because I don’t think I’ve been keeping my seat. Instead, I’ve been seeking elevation. Exaltation, really. I wanted to be lifted up on high, raised to dignity, honor and happiness (definition of exalt).
And Jesus was that, too. Indeed, He was raised up. However, when He spoke of His raising, He referred to His death.
As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw people to Myself. John 12:32
Yes, seeking a platform made me so unlike Him. The exact opposite, really. Because I tried to raise me higher. And Jesus, He allowed Himself to be lowered down from the heavenly realm, emptying Himself of His majesty by taking on the form of man. And lower still, he descended into the depths of the earth to taste death.
So we won’t have to. Not ultimately. And why?
For love. For God so loved…
And that’s Jesus’ hook. It’s the platform on which He stands. Love. And it’s this that draws man, and woman, to Him. And it’s His love – for us – that causes us to want to hear His voice.
“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” Andy Stanley
It’s true I chose a platform over my children more than once. My heart was, and it still is, for God’s women. I want to encourage them to open their mouths boldly to proclaim His word.
The thing is, though, by embracing the woman’s right to speak in the Winter of 2013, I inadvertently ignored my first and most important womanly role. That of mother. How ironic is that?
And in a way, it made my stance pro-choice. For undoubtedly, I had a choice that February day. Stay home and be mother to my son, raising him properly and tending to him as he mended.
Or I could raise myself…
She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26
No doubt, God has a sense of humor. Because He revealed to me that the above is my platform. At least for now it is. Oh, it garners enough visibility, for my daughter sees me clearly. And when I open my mouth, I am heard.
“Do you need to pee-pee? Do you have to poop? Wipe yourself. Hurry, now” And God reveals I have other platforms…
The bed from which Annabelle calls to me, “Mommy, come lay with me.” There, I soothe her with sweet whispers and kisses. The chair in which I make amends with my son when I make a mistake. Just this week, I pulled him onto my lap forcing his eyes to mine as I admitted my error.
The table where we have devotions. My voice rings out and my children listen. The fuzzy pink rectangle of my daughter’s rug where we play house. The flat of the ottoman where we do puzzles…
All these are very necessary platforms for this season of my life. Because I have kids. Oh, I am woman, that’s true. And I have a voice. But first and foremost, I am mother and they’re mine. My first audience. The most important one.
If anyone sees and hears what I have to say, may it be her…
And may it be him…
So, what’s my platform? That’s the question I’ve been pondering for weeks and weeks now. And I believe I already have the answer.
It’s shown in the pattern of Jesus’ life, but also, it was confirmed through a children’s movie (Moana) this past week. Within one scene, I comprehend what the foundation of every platform should be built upon. No matter the cause.
A demi-god was worried about his hook being destroyed. He was angry and yelled, “Without my hook, I am nothing.” My spirit awakened in that moment. Know why? I heard Scripture…
If I speak the languages of men and angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2
This is truth. Unless a platform is motivated by love, it will be faulty and unstable. A platform not worth standing on because ultimately, it will fall. This is the lesson God teaches me today.
He shows me that without love, my platform is nothing. All my words and all my faith and all my works. Nothing. All my talking just the noise of a Ms. Smarty Pants.
But love. Well, that changes everything. And so, I begin there. My platform built upon love. His love.
Because my words aren’t forever and prophecies will end. As for languages, they will cease and knowledge will come to an end.
But love never fails. Thus, a platform built upon it won’t either. It’s stable and secure. One I won’t fall off of…
Just like the one I find on my kid’s bathroom floor.