Reflections for the inner life.
Thank you for taking the time to watch this important short film featuring a friend of mine, John Marsh.
John is from Opelika, Alabama. So is my dear friend, pastor and mentor, Dr. Bill Dudley. Bill was my wife's childhood pastor. He later married my wife and I, baptized all three of our children and I was blessed to serve in ministry with him during a special season of our life at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church. Bill Dudley was the first person I'd ever known from Opelika and he spoke of his hometown with a fondness and special appreciation I envied.
John and I first met a couple years ago in Nashville at an artist retreat. Over the course of several days together, we were often seated together at a couple meals or on a bus traveling between historic homes and event venues around the Nashville area.
Conversation was natural and easy. I attribute much of that to John's own transparency. The time with him marked me for sure and I've continued to savor the connection.
Meeting John Marsh and getting to spend some impromptu time together was a real treasure. His kindness and his vision remind me of my great friend Bill, who invited me into a sweet friendship that fostered an enduring trust and vulnerability.
I can safely say that Bill Dudley has been someone who invited me to bring my weary heart to the front porch of our friendship, and together we would trust Jesus to bring healing and wholeness into the lonely places. He saw beauty where I only saw brokenness.
These two men from Opelika have very different stories but the aim of their life's work has been dedicated to restoring broken places. The integrity of their mission begins in the seat of their own lives. Their kindness and accessibility are incredibly disarming. Both would not take credit for work only God could accomplish.
Earlier today, John sent me a link to this new film that features a taste of he and his wife's story. I was in tears as I watched. What a gift to individuals or couples in difficult seasons of life who are hanging on by a thread.
"Their story as a couple mirrors the story of a city once neglected and now reclaimed. Through a vulnerable recount of their past tumult, the Marshes share how healing in their broken lives became their inspiration to bring hope to others.
John and Ashley Marsh are the proprietors of The Marsh Collective, a conglomerate of business ventures dedicated to resurrecting the city of Opelika, Alabama."
If you are inclined, please pass this along to a friend who you think might appreciate watching this. Trust me, John and his wife are the real deal. They are living proof that we are loved beyond any measure of performance or attempt at perfection.
May you also sense the kindness of God through the kindness and tenderness of my friend John.
Thank you John and Ashley for sharing your story. And for your vision to bring healing and wholeness to communities and cities!
by Louise Osborn, LMHC
I have talked before about the dangers of leaving a mask on too long. Today I would like to talk about the many different masks survivors wear, the reasons we wear them and the danger of becoming too attached to the mask.
There are many different reasons events that could make a person adopt a mask, but the underlying reason is the same. “Fear”! Fear of appearing to be a failure, fear of someone finding out your past, fear of looking weak or emotional. But fear is a dangerous bedfellow and can easily make you lose yourself altogether.
Those very things in our past, the hurts and insecurities are begging for release and releasing them leads to freedom. The first step to removing the mask is realizing what mask you wear most. The people pleaser? I have to do everything for everyone or they won’t like me. I will put him first and he will love me. Or maybe its the perfectionist? I must stay in control and do everything right. I crave help but I am afraid to ask or accept it. The I must be attractive all the time mask? If I must be beautiful to be worthy of love. There are of course others. The approval mask or the performer, and many wear different masks at different times or even multiple masks. Doesn’t it get tiring?
To begin to take off the masks though, we must face our past hurts, traumas and experiences and discover how they came to be. Maybe it goes back to winning a parents approval as a child, a negative relationship or a traumatic experience. I will acknowledge that for me this exercise helped me to realize how many masks I wear and how they have led to more negative experiences that in turn created new masks. It has been eye opening to realize how many I still wear and how they have piled up.
I have also realized how much of my true self and beauty is hidden and how revealing it can lead to true contentment. To not be afraid to speak up about something you feel is unfair, to allow someone to see your weaknesses, to accept help from someone or actually trust another person. In order to accomplish any of these we must learn to remove the mask and trust that everything will be ok. That the people that truly love us can handle it and those that don’t we don’t need in our lives anyway. That God does have a plan for us but by wearing the mask we are hiding our potential to live out his plan.
So how do we learn to take off the mask? Although everyone is different, my suggestion is that you first identify your masks and the events that caused it. Then, as hard as it sounds, you face your negative experiences, fears and traumas and you forgive and continually forgive anyone that harmed you. Lastly you put your faith fully in Gods plan for you. Lean on him and his words for comfort and strength. And if you still struggle, reach out to someone. A therapist, friend or family member and let them know what you are struggling with, what masks you wear and why. Voicing your story is difficult but cleansing at the same time, and it may help someone else you know take off their mask.
Recently, I was contacted by a marketing company inviting me to host my own radio show to reach a global audience. What ensued was a well-designed invitation for me to make a small investment of $7,000 into my own training and marketing of the first pilot season of the radio show. They would even train me and help produce the show!
This was my Facebook post that day:
This talent scout established a relaxed and friendly phone posture while inserting flatteries along the way, each of them subtly targeting my human desire to do and be something great.
Since the phone call, I've been wondering what allowed me to remain on the phone line so long. To be honest, it's a little embarrassing to admit that part of me was captivated by his invitation. Normally I would have just hung up.
The timing of the call was well placed in my life. I've wondered how the talent scout might have known that my ego was hungry for affirmation that day.
Could there be more going on here than just a cold call from a salesman in disguise as a "talent scout?"
Matthew's gospel records Jesus experiencing a similar interaction with a "talent scout" tempting him with greatness. The tone of the voice of the tempter in Matthew's narrative feels awfully familiar to the talent scout. "The devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain, and from there showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their magnificence."
The Tempter suggests to Jesus that greatness is found in the spectacular. He even offers three avenues to "go big or go home." Jesus isn't having that though.
Over and over again, the talent scout I spoke with on the phone kept repeating one key phrase to me. "Trust me. You'll thank me one day." It was his invitation to "trust him" that actually helped me turn the corner. Trust is not something you can demand from me. It is the fruit of an enduring healthy human connection with someone. The people I trust have never told me to trust them. They simply lived their lives in front me in such a way that they earned and sustained my trust over time.
The tempter made a very similar offer to Jesus while overlooking the kingdom below. “Everything there I will give you,” he said to him, “if you will fall down and worship me.” Like the talent scout, the tempter simply says, "Trust me."
Once again, the "if...then" here feels so familiar and similar to my phone call.
Three invitations from the tempter are followed by three relationally grounded responses from Jesus. Over and over, Jesus leans on his intimate local connection to the Father to resist his tempter. Jesus has a depth of history with his Heavenly Father. His Father can be trusted, Eternity has already proven this and Jesus is not about to sell out.
Away with you!” replied Jesus to the tempter.
We all need local voices in our lives who help keep us grounded when a tempter or talent scout targets us. Radio shows are not evil. Expanding influence is not evil either. Selling our souls to the illusion of "bigger is better" would be. First to yourself and then to your local community.
Here are a few "local voices" in my life who were kind enough to speak up...
ST. AUGUSTINE OFFICE