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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Clanging Cymbals: when all I make is noise

I love to sit on the pier along the beautiful New York City skyline. It is one of my favorite places to meet with people. The view is gorgeous, the breeze is nice and the company is always good. It is a great place to experience community and God working in and around me.

A few weeks ago, I sat on the pier with someone. I awkwardly listened to them tell me I was special because I treated them just like a normal person even after I heard their story. Most people turned the other way and rejected my friend. Like Jesus my friend had no home on earth. I tried my best to accept the compliment. My heart glowed with warmth that God allowed me to love His creation in this way. Then I made an awkward joke about being “special”.

I am so thankful for that moment along the pier because that is not how all my moments are. Recently I have learned how I have become a clanging cymbal in certain relationships. I have always known the Apostle Paul said I would become one if I did not have love, but I thought I had love. Doesn’t the little story I told you prove I have love? Don’t all the other affirming words people speak about my service mean I have love?

I always thought if I had some love, it prevented me from being a clanging cymbal. I never knew I could do both simultaneously. God has been showing me some relationships in my life where I have become a clanging cymbal. I have been sitting across the table from people having conversations where I apologize for putting personal goals before loving them. I may have told you this before, but I used to think I could put ministry before people and call it love. Now I know I can never step over people or push them to the side in the name of loving anyone. It simply is something Jesus never did.

(I wish I could sit down and talk to Jesus one on one about this though. He always stopped when the blind, poor, lame etc needed Him. It seems he always chose the individual over the crowd, but wasn’t the crowd composed of individuals? I am confused.)

I know without a doubt there are people who shook their head when they saw all the things I have been doing “for Jesus” in the last few years and thought, “but you did not love me” or “you do not respect me” or “you do not care.” And those people are right. I did not. Sometimes I loved my goals first. By the grace and mercy of God, He saw my heart was passionately for Him in spite of my getting in my own way. He had compassion on me like He did on the man after His own heart. I did not become a clanging cymbal to everyone.

I have been repenting of my heart condition for months. God has been helping me take the steps. He has walked me through becoming honestly willing to apologize. It is amazing how freeing, saying “I am sorry I was a jerk.” is.

I have been thinking about this a lot this week and trying to think of other ways I have been a clanging cymbal since beginning to follow Jesus. One of the enormous ones is thinking I could reach people for Christ through a political opinion. I was definitely a clanging cymbal when I lived my super selfish, addictive lifestyle for a few years. I was a clanging cymbal when I put my career and/or dancing and other hobbies before relationships.

I have concluded the only way to change from a clanging cymbal to a pleasant melody of love in these people’s lives is to take steps one through nine in each wounded relationship. Even after taking step nine, it will take God healing their heart for me to become a pleasant melody again.

I know I am not going to live a perfect life. I definitely have no intention of turning back to people-pleasing ways, but I pray I will set my life with His priorities. I can say no without pushing someone to the side. I can create boundaries in my life in a healthy way without being passive aggressive. I can serve Him without stepping over or on people to reach a goal I think promotes His kingdom. It will take a large dose of humility. Humbling processes are always painful, but with His help I will be patient and bear the pain.

Can you think of a relationship where you might be a clanging cymbal? If so, what can you do to change that?

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