Do we truly rejoice with those who rejoice?

by Melissa Greene

Avalon

I’m resting in the glow of support from my Ordination day.  It was an outpouring of love from so many family and friends–new and old.  I saw a picture that my precious mom posted on FaceBook of the two of us.  There I was in my Reverend robe and stole. (I look forward to sharing the story of my path and that service in another blog.)  But as I was reading my mom’s post, I was challenged by the thought of what it means to actually be a supporter.

By definition support means to hold up, to encourage, to comfort, or to corroborate.  I have been thinking a lot lately about how supporting others is part of my call not only as a Reverend, but also as a human.

We are created for relationship.  We are meant to share journeys with people, whether that be our families, partners, friends, mentors, followers, or leaders.  We should not only be supporting one another but celebrating each other as well.  I feel that usually we are able to more easily be comfort to someone in their pain, but in their triumph, in their highest achievements somehow we let our own insecurities and selfishness get in the way.  We mourn with those who mourn, but do we truly rejoice with those who rejoice?

I grew up in the arts and was exposed to great talent in the areas of music, theatre, and dance.  I found my place here. I grew to respect talent and performance when done with heart, passion and excellence. I started out simply as an admirer of other’s talents and eventually that matured into being a supporter of the same. When I moved to Nashville in 2002 to become a part of the Christian Artist group, Avalon, I was ecstatic not only to be a part of this group but to be able to be a part of an industry (Christian Music) with so much diverse talent.  I soon realized that being a “supporter” was not necessarily encouraged here. There were these spoken and unspoken rules in the music industry about needing to be the best and what that should look like.  An “Artist” doesn’t sing background vocals for others and doesn’t show up at someone else’s concert set.  Each record label wanted their artist topping the record sales charts, the radio charts, and winning the coveted dove award. In the midst of all our striving to beat out our competition we missed the beauty of each other.  We missed how we all complimented one another. We were unable to savor the impact of the whole.

Now to be clear I am competitive. In fact it’s my 2nd highest strength on the “Strengths Finder” test.  But I realized a long time ago that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses.  Strengths are where we have the opportunity to excel in the beauty of our humanity or to digress into the worst of what we can become.  So being competitive can either drive me to compete against others in order to beat them and celebrate my own little accomplishments by myself at this imaginary finish line, or it can cause me to recognize the beauty and excellence in others and allow that to drive me to be a better human. In choosing the latter way of being competitive we actually learn to honor each other. We can rejoice in our humanity when it’s at it’s best.  We can support with no agenda other than to bring joy to the one being supported.

This idea of being a supporter extends far beyond just the arts community.  It means showing up, not just to concerts and platform events but just in life.  We (I too need this) must learn that the gift of our presence speaks volumes to people, to know that life is hard enough already and we are meant to be gifts to one another, to not only share life but to actually applaud it.

I am trying to do this.  I readily admit that I fail a lot.  I’m thankful that the people around me know that and they give me a lot of grace.

I’ve realized that the ways of supporting one another can vary from showing up to a house concert for my friend’s group Youngest Daughter, or liking the Art on Facebook of my gifted friend Shari Lacy or in promoting my friend, Ian Cron, in his re-release of one of my favorite books.  Our support can also be shown in a simple tweet of affirmation (I was showered with them on my ordination day and it meant the WORLD to me) or support can be in a card we actually take the time to write. You see, we matter, our words matter, our presence matters.

We humans, you people, are good.  You are beautiful. You are brilliant.  You are talented.  When you are hurting I want to cry with you.  When you excel, I want to cheer you on.

I wonder if we can be a generation that looks out for beauty, for goodness, for excellence, for effort, for all the things that set us a part as the human race from other created things and then choose to support and celebrate it?  Can we actually change the culture of our Arts industries or whatever work environment we find ourselves in?

If we do so then I think we will experience the scriptural idea of “iron sharpening iron”.  We will not only watch and support others excel at their lives but we will excel as well.  We will support each other through our hardships and through our pain as well as through our accomplishments and our successes.

We will be FOR one another in word and in deed while living in the midst of societies and cultures that choose not to be. We will be different and we will pray that our different ways will become our normal.

Then I think that we will realize that our normal was the intended way all along.

Photo by demxx, Creative Commons via Flikr.

6 Responses to “Do we truly rejoice with those who rejoice?”

  1. Kelli Woodford February 11, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    You cannot possibly know that in the most private room of my inner heart have been two words: COMPETE and COOPERATE. They have taken on a pulse, a life-beat, of their own and their message is so simply this one you have shared.

    I hear it loudest and resonate most in these words:
    “In the midst of all our striving to beat out our competition we missed the beauty of each other. We missed how we all complimented one another. We were unable to savor the impact of the whole.”

    Thank you, Melissa.

  2. Mary DeMuth February 11, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    I love this. And I find the more I enmesh myself in applauding others, the happier I am.

  3. Leah Saunders February 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Melissa, if you recall (November, during a practice set for Christmas service I showed up and then you showed up BIIIIIG Time with support), I have been seeking support in in my journey as I break chains of generational curses. Recently, my mom made it clear that my efforts to sing for the Lord were a delusion. Just last night she hurtfully displayed spirits that weren’t fruitful and sought to destroy. She assured me I was alone and I would stay a single mother and I didn’t have any support because of my flaws and my past. She said my walk with Jesus was delusional.

    Early this morning, a knock. My friend Amy, a married mother of 5 who is a professional taking a break to be a homeschooler of brilliant children (3 of them they adopted from Ghana-special needs-all were older, were siblings, were malnourished with parasites) while her husband provides through his work as an ortho surgeon. She said the Lord asked her to take time out of her life to come over and “show up” in my life. I met her at church. She is supportive in my desire to sing and write lyrics for the Lord and help others see the vision of this ministry the Lord has created for me. She stayed for 3 hours, building into us, sharing a meal, we celebrated her experience completing the Daniel’s Fast, we prayed, we changed diapers.

    We talked about my street ministry which is for women who believe the lies. I call it F.R.O.G.G.E.D (Fulfilling Roles Our God Gives Everyday). It’s about showing up to break generational curses and rejoicing in the Lord as cherished women. They believe they aren’t worth being celebrated or supported and it starts from infancy. They allow others to pleasure themselves while disrespecting and defiling them. I was in that place a year and a half ago. Now, walking with the Lord, by His Grace, I am free. I want to support women and celebrate them, and show up. I want to show up just before they jump in the car with that dealer or pimp, before they walk in the dressing room of the strip club, before they swallow a pill or a lie that keeps them empty. I also want to show up when they read their first Bible story to their baby they almost aborted. I want to show up after they did abort and let them know that they are forgiven. I want to show up when they decide to leave the abuser and check into a shelter, leaving pride and trusting the Lord to help them start over or signing their first lease and helping their children unpack boxes. I want to show up when they take off their fake eyelashes and finally believe they are beautiful. I want to show up when they press charges on their pimp.

    Thank you Melissa for being vulnerable and sharing your challenge with the way your mother expressed herself, hopefully your courage to write this will inspire her to pause before speaking.
    We often think before we speak. I have found in my ministry that a “Power Pause” (my term) helps me to remember to ask the Holy Spirit to unleash how God will continue, not how I would. If I think before speaking, I often forget to lean into Him.

    I don’t know where my mother went when she left last night. I don’t know if I will ever see her again. I do know that sharing this pain kicks Satan away.

    Raise your hand if you adore Melissa!!!!! If you promise to celebrate and mourn with her!!!!! If you promise to show up for her!!!!!

    Raising my hand, Leah

  4. Courtney February 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    This was so beautiful and so necessary. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but I feel like I see this a lot more among my female friends. I think we’re all too insecure or wounded or afraid to celebrate other’s success. So instead, we compare, find ways that we’re better, and inwardly (or outwardly) judge the other women in our lives. How much better would we all feel if instead of comparing and competing, we were encouraging, lifting up, supporting, and celebrating. Such an important message. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Melody Harrison hanson February 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    This challenge is so counter cultural! And important in the communities where we make art whether by painting, photography, song writing, writing, et al. So essential and yet so difficult. What came to mind while reading is we’re blessed to be a blessing.

  6. Diana Trautwein February 12, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

    What a great call to action! The kind we don’t think about often enough. . . encouraging others through presence, praise, faith in them. Thanks for writing it out for us to ponder.

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