On Thursday morning, with wind chills hovering around -35, I awoke to discover my furnace had stopped working. Despite having had it serviced during the summer (admittedly, something I had never done in all my years as a homeowner), the pilot light went out and refused to relight. I called for service and then lit a fire in the wood stove in my living room and turned on the oven, leaving the door slightly ajar for the heat to escape. There, in my layers of clothing, I waited in the frigid stillness of the early morning hours for help. Rather than worry about pipes freezing, I sat calmly, very aware of the absence of panic in my body.
Only twenty minutes after calling, the technicians arrived. They quickly diagnosed and fixed my problem ~ simply a bad sensor. As they wrote up my invoice, they reminded me of a maintenance agreement I had taken out during that summer cleaning that was saving me $50 on their house call. I had forgotten all about it.
Perhaps to some, this incident would seem like a tragedy simply averted. To me, it had the hand of God all over it. So when my turn came to offer my praises to God during Sunday worship service, I was happy to tell of His generosity and goodness in the expedited 6:00 a.m. service call, the quick fix, the unexpected savings. I rejoiced in the back up heat sources and in the calm spirit in which I waited. He had been there with me, sitting in the living room in the dark, in silence. I appreciated that and wanted Him to know. I wanted everyone to know! I had even written it all down so I wouldn’t miss anything when sharing my praises.
And then it happened. As we left the service, a woman turned to me and said, “Dawn, you didn’t have to write that down. You could have just said ‘Praise God I didn’t freeze!'” There it was, hitting me right in the most vulnerable part of my being, the part that worries that I’ve spoken too much or said the wrong thing. My constant companion: feeling like an idiot. Immediately, I felt embarrassed at having shared my story.
“I wonder how many other people thought I was on too long,” I silently worried. I headed home kicking myself. For days, I would think of it and instantly feel embarrassed that I’d spoken up. A moment of agony would creep over me before I could push it down and away.
Today, during my normal early morning scroll through Face Book, this scripture appeared from a site I follow: “You, O God, make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.” (Psalm 65: 8b)
“Wow,” I thought. “Wouldn’t it be a real shame to allow something so minor as my embarrassment and insecurity to keep me from praising God and sharing His goodness with others?” And, in fact, that would be the other side winning if I did. I recognized that I was being silenced. Not by the woman who joked with me after the service, but by the enemies of shame and insecurity and embarrassment.
Regret for having spoken up was replaced with a gentle reminder that I should never be embarrassed to give God props. Psalm 51: 15 says, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise”.
This week, I look forward to more great things that will require a full “Praise Report” on Sunday morning. While I probably won’t report anything that requires writing it down, I make no promises. Pastor may just want to give me my own time slot.