So, last night I’m watching Never Easily Broken. You know the movie based on T.D. Jakes’ novel of the same name. During the Special Features, Jakes is talking about the making of the film. And that’s when it hit me. T.D. Jakes has a huge & very noticeable lisp!
Now, you may or may not be aware of the fact that T.D. Jakes is an extremely popular black pastor, preacher, Internationally known speaker & author who has a particular gift in ministering to women. He’s a freaking gazillionaire as well. And the man has a lisp. Also, a giant gap between his two front teeth. Lest, you think I’m just being shallow let me get on with my point.
Back in 1995 when I was still bound by a very real sense of satanic oppression -though I wasn’t entirely sure who satan was or what on earth that meant for my life- I was living day-to-day in the throes of poor choices especially regarding my sexual choices with men. My ex-boyfriends mother invited me to hear T.D. Jakes preach at Joe Louis Arena in Downtown Detroit. Somewhere around an hour in, there were literally thousands of women wailing -including myself- and little did I know the Holy Spirit was ripping through there like a bat out of hell. Meaning, lives were being changed. I found myself not only sobbing, but spinning around in circles, screaming with my hands in the air and begging for Jesus to free me from what was certain to be the demise of my life: men. Now, I grew up in a quiet, white Baptist Church ya’ll –I’m not pentacostal. (Though I wish I could be, I really do!) It also wasn’t just a display of mourning over my broken sexuality regarding being a childhood sexual abuse survivor. At that point in my life I had no living idea how the two even connected.
What was happening that day seemed and felt as ridiculous to me as it may to you reading it, but all I know is God was speaking to me through this man. This man with a lisp. A few months later, I read his book, Woman Thou Art Loosed & it was one of the key factors in my decisions to come to Jesus on my hands and knees, practically begging for him to do something, anything different with my life, which was at that time, so doggone miserable I could not take it anymore.
All that to say, despite some of the controversy surround Jakes & his views on the Holy Spirit & whatnot, God is using this man in the lives of millions & millions of women. And he has a doggone lisp.
You know Moses famously told the Lord -though he came to him in a burning bush for crying out loud- something along the lines of…. uh, God, I’m sort of slow of speech, so why don’t you go ahead and find someone else to free a bunch of people living under the rod of slavery, all right?
And then there’s me… my seeming inability to get the words out of my mouth that I’m thinking and feeling in a way that people understand me when I’m speaking. It may just be the greatest frustration of my life. You know how many times people have said in a matter of words that I’m “not making any sense,” that I’m “inarticulate” or how many times I can tell I’m not being taken seriosly or given an inadequate amount of power or influence because of something I’ve said. One time someone told my husband, Dave regarding my presence in a leadership team meeting, “it would have been nice if Grace had waited a little longer to open up her mouth and give her opinions.” Though, I had more experience than 2/3 of the people in the room. I’ve had a co-worker tell me when I start arguing he just shuts down & stops listening, assuming I’m not making a whole lot of sense.
This isn’t just projection here people. I know I get emotional & my inability to form complex & logical arguments take a steep down turn. When I preach, my nervousness leads me to make usually inappropriate jokes or just forget what I’m trying to say at all.
Yet, shock of all shocks: I feel called to teach, preach & train. Even more shocking, it’s been the thing I’ve gotten most affirmed on in my 8 years of ministry. Even more shocking I was asked to emcee a conference for over 1,500 InterVarsity staff doing what: speaking. It’s totally bizzare. Using my words to influence others though I feel about as inadequate as Moses did and about as embaressed as T.D. Jakes may once have been when he started his preaching ministry.
After an *Intro to Preaching Class* & multiple speaking engagements at Church’s this year I feel worse about my preaching/teaching than ever. I think God is really humbling me right now. I AM NOT all that & a bag of chips. Sometimes the harder I try, the more I suck.
I guess like T.D. Jakes & Moses, I’m hoping I can take my biggest, most obvious, glaring weakness and turn it into a way that folks can see God is doing something really cool through me.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is: embrace your weakness’ & go get em tiger.