The week before Thanksgiving, Ben, our Arts Pastor, asked if I would be willing to shoot a short video about my “year from hell” for an upcoming service. I agreed to do it and he said it would be after Thanksgiving. The theme of the video would be delayed answer to our prayers, for lack of a better description.
Now here is where I get real and honest and show you just how shallow I really am.
I don’t mind getting up on a stage and talking to people. In fact, I rather like it. I’m fairly good at it. It’s taken me a while to get the place where I can say this without feeling overly conceited, but this is an area where I’m gifted. Not that I’ve arrived or that I’m the best speaker ever, but I have what it takes to get there. Well, maybe not to be the best speaker ever, but you know what I mean. The thing is, when I’m up on the stage or in front of an audience speaking I don’t have to see me. I don’t even have to hear me. I can pretend I’m tall and thin and elegant or sporty and that I have a lovely voice. And I love the interaction with the audience.
Being videoed is a completely different game. For one, you have these cameras all up in your grill and these bright lights on you and these people telling you, “that was fine, but maybe you could say part A the way you said it before and keep part B”. When I get up to speak I am prepared. I’ve spent time writing out my talk and going over it, fine tuning it and getting it plastered in my brain. But for the video I had to take a year’s worth of prayer and pain and sorrow and condense it into 45 to 60 seconds. I so was not prepared.
The morning of the shoot I spent a little extra time on my hair and took my makeup and a freshly pressed shirt to work with me. Twenty minutes or so beforehand I went in the bathroom to get all made up and realized I had left my good foundation at home. My face was going to be shown on the huge screens at church and I had no good makeup! Before panic could set in I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tried to focus on what really mattered. Not what I looked like or sounded like, but the message. This video wasn’t for me. It wasn’t to make people feel sorry for me or to make me look like a hero or a paragon of faith. It was to encourage others. It was to bring glory to God and his faithfulness.
With that thought in my head I finished my prep and went to shoot a video. Ben and Dave and Brett were so kind and gentle and very encouraging. It took a while to set up the cameras which was probably a good thing for me. It helped take my mind off any nervousness I was feeling. And then the filming began and I didn’t really know where to start. How do you boil such a year as we went through down into 60 seconds? Thankfully I didn’t have to.
Todd and I went to church the following Sunday like usual and I kept thinking they probably weren’t even going to show the video. I felt I had done so horribly and that there probably wasn’t anything salvageable out of the 20 or 30 minutes of video I shot.
The message, in a nutshell, was about persevering prayer – praying unceasingly for a miracle even when you don’t feel as though God is listening. Which is different than knowing God is listening. I always knew God was listening, but sometimes I grew so weary and it just felt like he wasn’t listening. There were also times when I was so distraught I couldn’t pray at all. I didn’t have any words. All I could manage was “Oh, God.” And that was enough because he knew what my soul was trying to say. Not only that, but I knew there were so many people standing in the gap for me, praying for me when I couldn’t pray for myself. What a comfort.
Anyway, I kind of digress. The message was very good and, I suppose knowing what my video was about, turned my thoughts to that year. I could feel my emotions rising and I’m not about emotions so I really just wanted to tamp them down. But then they showed the video. My testimony was shown in the middle of a song and I lost it. I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see it, but I couldn’t escape the sound. All the pain, all the sadness, all the uncertainty of my life six years ago surfaced and I sat in my seat with my head bowed, shaking and trying unsuccessfully to hold back tears. Todd wasn’t much better off than I was, but he had his arm around me, patting my shoulder. My friend, Tina, sat on the other side of me and patted my knee.
I told my story in front of these cameras with just the slightest of feeling. It was so mechanical in my head. This is what happened, this is what I did, this was the result. Done. But coupled with the message and the song it was just too much.
Dave did an excellent job of editing the video. And I just want to emphasize that, while sometimes it felt like I was praying to a wall, I always knew God was listening. I wondered what his plan was and wished he would let me in on it, but I never doubted.
I still don’t like watching the video purely from that shallow viewpoint I was talking about. If only I could have had a year to prepare and lose the weight. I have to keep reminding myself that: A) it’s not about me; and B) the camera adds 50 pounds (I’m pretty sure that’s right). So please know this is not easy for me at all to do and, in fact, is taking every ounce of courage I possess. But here it is. Be sure to listen to and/or read the lyrics. They’re very powerful.