Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anointing vs. Ambition

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about anointing, and what God has anointed me to do in this life for His glory. I heard a message about it at Seven about a month ago, and it has sparked a lot of thought and contemplation and reflection. When I say “anointing,” I mean, “what God has blessed me with the talents to do that will bring them closer to Him.”

Upon first hearing that, I automatically think, “Well, God gave me the talent of singing. Maybe that’s what my anointing is, and I’m supposed to use that.” Then the speaker, Tim Ross, said something like “What you are talented at doing is not necessarily what you are anointed to do.” Well. Hmmm. That doesn’t mean that the obvious talents are NOT what God has anointed you with, but it did make me stop and think “Well, maybe I shouldn’t just default to the obvious – my singing abilities – but instead I should look deeper within myself and ask, ‘Is there something else God has anointed me to do?’”

Since I started performing in the community again back in 2009, several of the shows I’ve been a part of have been reviewed by theatre critics. I’ve only received a passing mention, if any, each time, and nothing notable or detailed about my singing. If I’m being honest, I’ve been disappointed each time that I haven’t gotten a more detailed review. I tell people that I’d “even take a bad review, as long as it was something I could use to improve and do better next time,” but I sit here now and wonder if that’s true. I wonder if I’m just disappointed that I’m not getting more critical acclaim.

I even find myself disappointed that I’m never asked to sing at the local weekly cabaret that happens in Dallas, either by someone already on the bill or to be a part of the bill. There’s a part of me that gets suddenly insecure and thinks I’m just not talented enough to hold my own in this town as a singer, but then recently I’ve stopped to reflect on this. I think it goes back to my most recent post about doing it all for my glory. Maybe God has kept me from getting public/published acclaim and praise for my abilities on purpose, so that I can’t just take off with it and forget that my talents are a blessing and not something I deserve. Which begs the question, then…

Is it possible that God’s anointing for me lies somewhere outside the obvious – outside the performing arts? Is it because I am not yet strong enough spiritually to be able to use my talents without going after my own personal glory? If so, is that something I can grow into? Because that’s something else Tim said in that message…sometimes we have to grow into our anointing. Even Jesus didn’t start doing the things God anointed him to do until he was 30 years old.

Having this break from performing lately and having it happen at the very same time that my husband is in rehearsals for another show has given me a LOT of alone time to think and question things. For one thing, I’m struggling with just being BORED and sick of being at my house every night. I don’t know if this is just because I’m unable to rest or if it’s because, thanks to my outgoing personality, I just don’t really thrive on having so much free time to myself. I don’t really like it.

Even though I have the ability and the time to get things done, work out, cook, keep my house clean, and go to bed at a decent hour…I’m actually worse at doing those things now than I am when I’ve got a full schedule. I think I’ve always worked better on a deadline, and part of me likes the stress and slight insanity of having to get things done in an allotted amount of time (within reason). So I have to try to find a balance of not overworking myself and having no time for myself, my husband and God (not in that order) but also not just being restless and stir-crazy with too much free time.

I guess I’m just feeling aimless right now and I’m not sure what’s next and what God has in store for me with my performing career/hobby – if He has anything in store for me there at all. It’s strange to not already have planned out the next several auditions and performance opportunities after such a crazy spring and summer. And if/when I do get into a show next, will I be able to be the kind of Christian example that will inspire people and not turn them away? Will I remember to give Him the glory? Will I sink back into hold habits and behaviors?

I’ve forgotten where I was going with this, and it’s turned into just word vomit. Must stop before it gets worse!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

But Not for Me

A couple of weeks ago when I wrote this post, I mentioned something that has been going on in my life of late thanks to an invitiation to go (back) to Gateway Church with my good pal Tyler. I mentioned that my husband and I have been attending a church together (or listening to some podcasts from the services when we can't actually make it out to church) and that I really felt like it was time to get back on the path of God's obedience.

Why am I writing about this on my theatre blog, you ask? Well that's a good question. I'll do my best to answer it.

Since I made this decision and prayed the prayer that God would grab hold of me and yank me back into a place where I wanted to make Him a priority -- no, THE priority -- in my life, I've been thinking about all the things that happened leading up to that moment:

  • I did seven -- SEVEN -- shows in 2009. As a result, I put on a lot of weight, was exhausted, and had a strained relationship with my husband because neither of us was ever at home for any long period of time while we were both awake.
  • I was writing theatre reviews for The Column and spending any free weekends driving out and seeing shows for no pay and for more stress in my life.
  • I started this blog and started writing reviews and seeing a TON of shows as a way to network and meet people in the D/FW theatre community.
  • In December of 2009 I decided to change myself physically. Since then I have lost 37 of the 40 pounds I set a goal to lose.
  • So far, in 2010, I have done only three shows, and it's highly likely that I am done for the year.
  • I have stopped writing for The Column because I felt a very palpable urge to simplify my life: husband, family/friends, work, and the occasional show.
  • Possibly as a result of no longer writing for The Column, I have been deleted as a Facebook friend and completely cut off from the publication by its editor and creator with no actual explanation given.
  • Because of my new shape and resulting confidence level, I waffled and waffled but finally decided to audition for a role in The Producers that, 9 months ago, I never would've auditioned for. I got it.
  • I learned a big lesson about why I do shows during The Producers process: because I love it and because I meet amazing people. Case in point:
  • I met several new friends, but one in particular who invited me to church....the type of church I have been quoted as hating on in the past for being "God machines" with thousands and thousands of members and multi-camera praise & worship with stage lighting and rock bands and proudly brewing Starbucks in the lobby....and God spoke to me more loudly and clearly than He has in years. Well...I'm not gonna put that blame on Him....I listened this time. I heard it. Something in me just finally shut up and I listened.
  • Since then I've been going back...talking to my husband daily about what God is doing, doing a lot more listening with my ears and my heart, and trying to make a daily effort to read my devotional emails and a weekly effort to go to church in some way.

Last night, when I was at Seven with my friend and my sister-in-law, Preston was talking about God's plan and promise for our life. He said something that really struck a chord in me. This may be paraphrased, as I left my notes in my car and it's raining REALLY hard right now so I don't wanna go get it, but it was something like this:

When you are walking in God's promise/plan for your life, He will make it obvious.

I don't have to ask why I got deleted by John Garcia and deleted from receiving the Column.

I don't have to ask why The Producers was the best show experience I've had in a while. I don't have to ask why, of the other thinner girls that were at auditions, I was cast as Ulla. I don't have to ask why Tyler decided to invite me to church one weekend before the show opened.

I don't have to ask why I suddenly am exhausted by the "business," the drama, the fake friendships of the theatre community.

I don't have to ask why it happened to be now, in a non-crisis-driven moment of my life, that I decided to walk in obedience to the Lord again for the first time -- no lie guys -- since high school.

These things are not a coincidence. He will make it obvious.

All of this happened for one reason and one reason only. I was doing things for MY glory. Not His. I was working for MY benefit...Not His. I wanted to network and meet more people in the theatre community. Why? So I could get cast in shows -- not based on my talent but because of who I know? So I could write theatre reviews and have my name known? So that I might get nominated for and subsequently win a Column award?

Really, Mandy?!

In the past 17 months, I have worked with directory Bill Kirkley on 3 shows. In my life, I have worked with him many other times. Before every show during our cast & crew "circle time," he always says the same thing: "Your talent is your gift from God, and how you use that talent is your gift back to Him."

Have I been using my God-given talents as a gift to Him? Or to me? Have I been using these many opportunities for His glory? Or mine? It's not a fun question to ask because I already know the answer. :-/

You guys, the arts community is a tough place in which to be a Believer. But as a very talented young man I've only (sadly!) met in person ONE TIME, Max Swarner wrote on his blog:

People have challenged me for a long time that I can't be following God's plan by being in this industry. All I can say is those people are wrong! This industry needs Christ just as much as any other industry does, and I want to do my part!

I can do this. I can certainly still be a part of the theatre community. But I need to be doing it for the right reasons and never let it consume my life and become all about my glory and recognition again.

It's not going to be easy. I may lose friends, networked contacts I've made, Facebook friends, Twitter followers....but there is no loss that will be greater than the ultimate gain I will receive by putting the Lord and His glory first so that I can walk in His path and promise for my life.

Even now...I'm afraid of hitting "publish." This blog directly posts to my Facebook notes. I'll be afraid of what happens when I share it on Twitter. But I have to. This is what I need to do to show people that this is really who I am.

Here we go!