When I was young, and even into my early 30's, I suffered with feeling completely locked up inside, unable to express the fullness of my being in front of others. I would not share my gifts or talents with people other than my husband and children. I was afraid of people. I don't really know why that was, but in my 30's I had an encounter with Jesus (hang in here with me). The love that He is opened every door that was locked. I do not mean that my fears instantly dissolved. I mean that He opened the doors to the expression of who He created me to be. Doors that were locked. He gave me the Key (His presence) that allowed me to walk through them any time I needed or any time He requested, in SPITE of my fear. Before the encounter with Him, however, I did not feel I had a choice to break free. After Him, freedom was guaranteed and it was a matter of acknowledging that and being willing to take the risk. Anyone who has had that kind of debilitating fear knows how virtually impossible that feels.
RELEASING THE GIFTS
One evening while in prayer with Him, in my mind's eye, I was shown an image of an open, ploughed field. I heard clearly that this field was full of seeds that God had put in place, but until I was ready to share the fruit of what He had planted, the watering of that vineyard could not begin. God showed me that there was blessing that would come to others from the seeds He had planted in me. I understood that I must begin to share what God had given in order for Him to bring fruit from it. With that recognition, I started to listen for His direction on what to release, including where, and when. There was preparation but I knew the way was clear as soon as I was ready.
Now here is a little back history on how deeply locked in fear I was. In my 20's my brother gave me a ticket to go see James Taylor in concert. He knew James was my favorite musical artist at that time (still a dream of mine to sing back-up to him), yet, I could not go. My desire was so great to stand and sing before large audiences like he was doing that I could not attend what would have been my favorite concert of all time. It would have been too painful. At that time, no one had any idea of the depth of my fear and how debilitating it was to have such monumental dreams and be unable to realize them.
Skip forward several years. I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend, listening to a wonderful pianist/vocalist that is local to our area. I knew many of the tunes he was performing and hungered to match his vocal with my harmonies. My friend had heard me harmonize to music in the office where we worked and she loved my voice. She asked why I didn't get up and sing with him. In that moment, I realized that I was essentially "imprisoned" by this fear, feeling like I was in a cage with a door that had a lock on it and I did not have the key. I could not escape. All I could tell her is "I can't" and at that time, I really couldn't.
THE LEAP OF FAITH
It was shortly thereafter that I encountered Jesus. Through time with Him in prayer, I came to realize that alongside Him that bondage no longer had substance to inhibit me. I now had a partner who had unlocked the door and gave me courage to push it open and walk through.
The first door I walked through was singing publicly. If you have seen me perform you would be surprised to know that this was ever an issue and you would understand how important it was for me to break free so that others could enjoy the gift He had created in me. Though I recognized at the time that I had the freedom to step forward, I was still challenged by the fear. It took much consideration and a lot of inner strength, but I called the aforementioned coffee house and set a date for a solo, a capella performance. In the past, I would have shrunk back and quit. This time I did not.
GOD SUPPORTS OUR DREAMS
Within days, I went with a friend to a musical event at an arts camp where we worked. He was the lead vocalist in that performance. He asked me to come up and sing back-up harmony with him. I had done it on rare occasions before, so I agreed. At that event, he introduced me and, after I sang with him, he announced to the entire audience that I would be doing this solo, first-time performance. In the audience was the editor of the local newspaper. She and I had known each other for many years yet she said she did not realize I could sing and asked me why. I told her about my fear and the determination to overcome it. She asked if she could write an article in the paper about me. Knowing this was a door that had been opened by God's grace, I said yes. It was a beautiful article that I still treasure. The next day I went into the coffee shop and the owner gave me the gift of a microphone stand that he had never used. It meant the world to me, and I still have that stand.
WALKING THROUGH THE DOOR
On the day of the show, the friend who had announced my solo performance accompanied me to the coffee house with his PA system and microphone. I was comforted having him there. He set everything in place for me. When he was done setting it all up, however, he said, "Okay, I am going to leave now. You have to do this one on your own." Though I was intimidated and frightened, I knew he was being the most loving person he could be in that moment. I was left completely on my own. I did not have any music equipment because I had never performed before, so there was no instrument to hide behind; no band-mates to hide behind; not even a podium. It was just me and God. I prayed. I prayed a lot. I sat quietly for some time and then people started to arrive, people most of whom I did not know. But God was with me and I knew I would be okay.
BECOMING A PERFORMER
Sixty people arrived that evening and it was the beginning of my becoming a performer in my own right. I did not become a good performer instantly. It has taken years, but that door never closed again. That is the way God works. When He opens a door, no one else can shut it. We can only choose not to walk through it, but it will always remain open for us. Every year I honor that gift with a promise to myself to use what He has given me and to listen to Him for its proper and best use, improving on one thing each year.
Singing is no longer a place of fear for me, it is a place of comfort. I have experienced standing before large audiences and feeling more peace than at any other time in my life. It is easier for me to be in front of large crowds singing or speaking than it is to stand and talk with people one on one. So, you see, I was made for this and I am grateful that I have the chance to do it.
SHARING MY ART - DOOR #2
In 2015, the next door I walked through was sharing my artwork with the public. There was no resistance to its opening this time, just a lack of knowledge about how to make that happen. My brother and his wife own a wonderful coffee house here where I live. Without knowing I was going through this process, they asked me if I wanted to do an art show in their place of business. Knowing that this was an open door that God had provided, I agreed. I did the show and it was a success. I sold 6 pieces of art and people loved them. I have had others ask me for prints as well as greeting cards. What I learned on that occasion is that God uses people in our sphere to accomplish what He has planned. We do not need to look outside those we know, yet if someone outside our sphere is needed, He will bring them to us most often through someone we know.
RELEASING A BOOK - DOOR #3
Last year another thing arose that I knew I had to break through...releasing my writing to the public. There were loads of reasons why I did not feel safe to do that, but I recalled that the gifts that God has given are not only irrevocable, they are intended for His use and must be freely given. All the reasons we have to not do what God has designed us to do are not coming from Him. He will always support that which He has created us to do, unless the timing is not His. So...I set about to complete a book. This past year, 2016, I finished it, self-published, and made it available for people to purchase. It has already affected many people who have in turn purchased more to give as gifts.
Seeing and walking through open doors as led by God will be an ongoing process because, as I was shown, there are a lot of seeds in that ground. He is now watering and the sprouts are popping up one by one and will for the rest of my life. One thing I understand clearly now is that through the grace given to me by the breaking of human bondage by Jesus, I am able truly to do anything. And...it is my choice whether I will do it or not. In thanks to Him, I am doing it more and more every day. Be mindful that I still struggle when a new thing arises. But no matter what, I KNOW that I have freedom to give of all that God has placed in me.
WHAT USED TO BE NO LONGER IS
If you ask anyone who has known me for many years, you will hear that there was a time when I could not look people in the eye when they talked with me, that I would cower in a corner at an art opening for my husband...hoping I would not have to engage in conversation, or that the idea of talking with someone after a gig was terrifying. That is no longer the case. I do have some areas where talking with people is a little uncomfortable, but I just step into that water and wade in it until the discomfort subsides. I now know that God is a people-lover and He wants us to have relationships with each other that are unhindered by fear, doubt or lack of trust. He wants our contact with others to be open so that we can freely care for each other. I believe that is His highest call upon us.
THE PEOPLE DOOR
God has unlocked every door for me and anything is acceptable in how I move forward in my life as long as I remember to include Him. What was not acceptable was being afraid of those He loves and wishes to touch with His loving care, because He touches others through me and me through others.
To God, relationships are everything, and everything should be directed toward having loving relationships with all of those around us. To me, the People Door is the highest door we can pass through on this Earth, because once we are able to move freely in that arena, God can really work in and through us, and lives can change.
YOUR OPEN DOORS ARE WAITING
How many open doors are waiting for you? I believe many. Because I have seen for myself that each time I walk through one of those doors, people are greatly blessed, I am eager to see the doors you will walk through as I know it will touch many. We need you to take that first difficult step so we can receive the fullness of who God made YOU to be. Don't be afraid. Instead, ask God to release the fear from you or give you the ability to move forward in SPITE of the fear. He will do it. With the love of God at your side, you will be free to walk through Open Doors.