bowing out

With my hands out to my sides, I took a dramatic bow. From every direction, flowers seemed to fly towards me. “Thank you!” I said loudly, breathlessly. “You’re all too kind! Thank you!” Still, the flowers came. One, in particular, landed at my feet. A daisy. With a small grin and delighted sigh, I picked it up. Daisies are my favorite–how did they know?

I brought the flower to my nose and breathed in its sw-

Sickly sweet smell. What? I looked more closely and realized it had been dead for awhile. It was actually rotting and the smell was more than unpleasant: it made me nauseous. What was going on?

I looked around at the floral assortment surrounding me. All of them, every last petal, both smelled and looked of death. The audience wasn’t pleased, it would seem. With tears in my eyes, I watched as they would carelessly toss their decaying flowers at me and walk out of the building, not looking back.

“Wait!” I pleaded. “I can do better! I was a little off tonight, but now I’m warmed up! Let me perform just one more time for you and see if you don’t love me…it.” Not one person even paused to glance over their shoulder. Soon, it was only me, a garden’s graveyard, and a spotlight that was suddenly overwhelmingly bright.

Click, tap…click, tap…click, tap. Slowly, contemplatively, He came closer. The Director, that is. I heard His shoes against the stage’s slick wood, but I refused to look behind me. I performed well. Click, tap. Surely, surely, He wasn’t here to critique me. Click, tap. I had just given the performance of my life–He should be handing me a bouquet of [fresh] flowers. Click, tap.

“Why are You here?” I asked without turning around.

“Why are you?”

“You know why. I had a performance, tonight. Didn’t You see it? Don’t You see the aftermath?” I choked back a sob.

“Yes, I do. But you weren’t supposed to perform, tonight.”

I blinked. Is that why the audience was angry? Did I accidentally go on during someone else’s performance time? “Wait, is that why-”

“You weren’t ever supposed to perform.”

Another blink. “But, this is what I’m good at. I’m good at putting on a show.”

“You’re good at pretending. You’re good at conforming. You’re good at seeking the approval of man. And I’m here to put a stop to it. This stage is not yours. You don’t have to choose this life.” The click, taps started back up and faded away. Again, I was alone. Just me and a stage that was no longer comfortable for my feet.

He was right, of course. I was no actress, but had taught myself how to be over the past six years. Do I even know how to be authentic anymore? I’ve been so busy striving, so busy pretending. It’s been so much easier to just perform for men and women instead of walk out in the reality of who I am: a woman that doesn’t know Christ nearly as much as she lets on. How was I supposed to be real with that? I mean, I’m about to be a lifegroup leader. I’m a discipler. I’ve got to have it all together, or at least pretend like I do. People are watching!

My performance, though impressive, has been a front. I have been content with pretending to know Jesus and knowing Him from a distance, which, of course, isn’t really knowing Him at all. Come to find out, an actress cannot truly encounter a very genuine God without first bowing out.

I don’t know how to be fully real and I don’t honestly know who my Jesus is. And, I’ve just got to. I’ve just got to.

There, now. The curtains are closing. The seats are empty. My heart is tired. The bulb in the spotlight has burned out. And I’m getting the hell off this stage.

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