Megan has a huge heart. She loves people. She is always eager to sing, dance, play, encourage, help, and just loves life! She has a personality that lights up any room she enters. As we travel to speak, lead worship, etc..., Donna and I love to watch Megan. She fits in wherever she goes. At camps she joins right in with a youth group and becomes a part of their group before the week is over. At D-Now Weekends, and other Student Events, she blends right in, meets everyone in the room, and by the end of the weekend is working the merchandise tables for the worship band or helping to make sure the event continues to roll smoothly! When we lead on Sunday mornings for churches, she is always on the front row, by her choice, taking notes and enjoying every minute. When we speak at corporate or professional settings she will mingle and talk with anyone no matter their age. She's Awesome, and it is such a joy to see her growing up into a Godly, healthy, and special young lady.
Back in the fall of 2011, Megan asked us if she could be in Girl Scouts. We began to quiz her as to why she wanted to be involved. The answer she gave was amazing. She said, "Daddy, I like Girl Scouts because they want to serve and help other people. It will be good for me to meet other girls from all over at camps and stuff. I just like doing things like that." So, she joined Girl Scouts! Why, because "SHE LIKES" doing things like that. It's what is in her that naturally comes out.
Isn't that a beautiful picture above? I took that picture one evening after Megan had come back from the zoo with her Girl Scout troop. Megan was so excited about what she was doing and learning in Girl Scouts. She took her study book called, "Agent of Change," and fell asleep reading it. As I stood there looking down at my little girl sleeping, the title of her book jumped out at me. I couldn't think of a phrase that better described our little girl better than that. An Agent of Change! Not because she has to or we force her to, but because it's what's in her and it naturally comes out. I found myself so grateful that Megan is not becoming an Agent of Change because of what she does, but Megan is an agent of change because of who she is on the inside! Donna and I believe that it is important that Megan understands that her significance and value are not based on what she can do for other people. Her significance and value is based on who she is In Christ Jesus and what He says about her. Then the change in other people's lives happens naturally as His presence IN her comes out as a bright light for others to see and experience. We don't want her, or any of our children, to be impacted from the "outside in" but rather from the "INSIDE OUT."
Sadly, most people today are conditioned to respond from the "outside in" rather than the "inside out." We allow what others say and do to determine what we say and do in return. That's how I responded most of my life. Still can today. Heck, someone could look at me funny or make a sound and I would think that I needed to do something to make things better. Even though I have the same personality as Megan, I grew up believing a lie that thankfully she isn't believing. I believed that I was designed to be an "Agent of Change" to make things better for everyone else. It was my job to bring peace, hope, happiness, laughter, advice, and help to everyone. My dad, mom, sister, church people, school people, teachers, coaches, neighbors, friends, etc... If they were happy, I was happy. If they weren't happy, I couldn't be happy until they were happy or until at least I felt like I had done all that I could to make them happy. I found my significance in helping others be happy, and that all happened before I was 12 years old. (That literally makes me LAUGH OUT LOUD! I can hear my friend Jason laughing with me)
With each passing year, I continued believing that lie. The proverbial snowball of approval, got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER. Until I became what one of my counselors called, "A Flaming Co-dependent." (notice that counselors is plural) I had to meet certain people's approval to feel good about myself. I didn't see that It was a lie! Do you know what the hardest part for me to stomach about the last 20+ years of my life has been? I had to stop blaming my environment and everyone else for who I was today. I knew what I was doing and continued to do it. Why? Because it gave me significance. Approval and Praise were my addictions, and when I began to realize I couldn't "Change" everyone and everything else it led to other struggles, failures, compulsions, and issues. I hurt people I loved because of my choices. That's the sad truth, and it's all because I allowed my decisions and thoughts to be continually shaped from the outside in rather than the inside out.
But be encouraged today! All is not lost! It's never to late! We can all become the "Agents of Change" that God intended for us to be. We must first understand that our version of "change" and His are completely different. God's version, which by the way is the only true version, is all about what He has already done for us. Check out this verse from II Corinthians 5:17 from the Amplified Bible, " Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] IN Christ he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!" THAT'S CHANGE! His change IN us! His work IN US is done! We have to only accept it! Because of His presence in us, the Holy Spirit, the old is gone and the new has come. It can take some time and counsel to come to this revelation, because many of us have been believing this lie for a long time. But when we understand that we just have to walk in who we already are...we can be free! Just like Megan.
So if you are worn out, empty, exhausted, tired of covering for yourself and everyone else, used up, depressed, (enter your own description here), you are exactly where you need to be. Stop right now and pray a simple little prayer that my mentor told me to pray over and over years ago, "Lord I'm willing." That's it. That's what I began to pray, and over the last 10 years (it took me a while) the paranoia approval driven lies have been exposed and are being replaced from inside out with peace, faith, hope, and love!
Claim this verse today from The Message. It is found in Ephesians 2:8-10. I've added some personal emphasis too, "Saving is all his idea and all his work. (Wow! Isn't that LIBERATING!) All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. (YES!!) It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. (See I told you!) If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! (Isn't that the truth! Can I get a witness? LOL!) No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, (Change Agents His Way!) the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing."
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing more about being changed from the Inside Out. We can be "Change Agents" like Megan, but we gotta remember it isn't what we do. It's what the presence of God does through us. Then others see the true change and want what we have instead of what WE can do!