Last week I shared some insights after watching two movies that entertained, but also got me thinking about my life at the gut-level. The first film was, “I Can Only Imagine” and while it was excellent, even more intriguing was the interview I found since then featuring Bart and Shannon Millard with Focus on the Family! It’s a 2-parter and worth the listen just to hear the journey of emotional healing they have courageously embraced! What an inspiration they are to me this week…I will share my favorite quote from that interview on Instagram this week so if you don’t follow us yet, come see us @amotherofthousands (which is also about to transition with us too!)

The second film was, “The Greatest Showman” and I may have watched it twice more since last Tuesday night! (That says a lot since my tv viewing time is extremely limited this season!) Last week I shared the most poignant moment for me (I have new ones now). At the moment of crisis, PT Barnum begins to wrestle in the between place of what matters and what seems to matter, and in the end for him it meant quitting the circus to be fully present with his family. Phillip Carlyle wrestled too, and his decision led him to embrace the spotlight as the Circus Master.

What struck me was the shame-free way both embraced their roles with joy! They were led by it and found it increasing as they fully settled into their respective places.

I couldn’t help but wonder where joy was leading me this season. Maybe this is the question you need to ask too?

For decades I have carried shame for my desire to be on a stage. While I root deep in solitude and in soul-filling friendship, I also deeply enjoy singing, performing, speaking, writing, and had dreams once of being on Broadway. Recently a counselor friend helped me identify some well-placed wounding words in college, and a few comments since then that have worked their way into my soul bringing shame for wanting to be seen. Even Bart Millard in “I Can Only Imagine” dealt with the haunt of shame telling him he was a nobody, that he wasn’t good enough and he didn’t need to be wasting his life singing on a stage in the spotlight – even though it was his dream! In my case, I assumed the worst about my desires and never considered that God may have given me these desires for His glory!

My wise friend nudged me to forgive the people who spoke these wounding words to me (probably unknowingly), and to begin embracing a shame-free way of living where I follow Jesus and the joy He is placing in my heart.

Oh what freedom!

We can own our dreams free of shame when we pursue them alongside the God who created us. We can experience the fullness of His grace in our lives, whether that means homeschooling our kids at our kitchen tables or standing on a stage encouraging shame-weary women, or doing a blend of both with lots of wisdom and strong boundaries. So these are some take-aways for my new thinking this week:

God is not against our celebrity, He is against our worship of our celebrity.

But too, there is no shame in drawing lines, having limits, living within boundaries that say no to opportunities to grow.

The grace of God gives us permission to have a personality, and not be a personality.

Whether I’m seen or not seen, heard or not heard, connected or not connected, there is no shame. I am free to take joy in all of it.

And because of the Gospel, so are you!

If you are juggling and walking the tight rope because you feel like you have to be a personality, let me offer this: quit the circus. Be in the joy of God right where you are sister, and keep in step with His presence and your joy.

If you are itching to launch with the joy of God’s spirit nudging you out, let me offer this: dance sister, get out there and dance! Let the critics and judges do their thing, but you stay in the center of God’s delight, His presence and your joy.

Needing a little more encouragement? Listen to my sister-friend Jessica Honegger interview Christy Wright this week on her inspiring podcast “Going Scared”! The title alone can set you a little more free: Writing Your Own Permission Slip To Do What You Love. Now come on, that’s good.