Like most young girls, I would prance around the house in my mom’s heels, put on her jewelry in layers, and attempt to put on makeup. For as long as I can remember, I loved dressing up. Don’t get me started on how Mom dressed us on Easter and every Sunday! You would think my sister and I were in some beauty pageant. Not just for the church, but what a “woman should look like” and carry themselves were engraved in me at an early age.
There is something about dresses, skirts, and heels that made me feel like a girl and now a lady. This was a role I had adapted and didn’t even know it, which is why I chose the pictures I did for this month’s blog post about the roles we play out as actors on this stage we call life.
As I look over my life, there have been many roles I took on, and I have to say, I was darn good at them all. I now present the “best of me”: the good, bad and ugly.
I had even to take on roles that were falsely put on me as well. My father taught me at an early age that I never have to defend the truth. Sadly, people would instead create a thought about you based on factors outside the fact, rather than what God has revealed you to be. Very sad!
Well, here are a few that many can possibly relate to…
My sister and I were like night and day. She wasn't a bad person, but she had a rebellious side. I was the one who stayed at home, went to school and church, and not much more. Whatever my parents said, I did. Don't get me wrong, I did some things behind their backs, but what teenager didn't at some point?
I truly honored my parents and valued their opinions on how my life should go. The drawback was, as a youth, I never explored some of the things I had a desire to do if it was outside their perception of who THEY FELT I should be growing up. I played the role they outlined for me for so long that navigating through early adulthood was challenging at times. I made my own decisions and choices, but my mind would always be on pleasing them rather than charting my own path.
September 24, 2005, was one of the best days of my life – my wedding day! I always wanted to be a wife from seeing the example of my parents. I took this role seriously and tried my best to fulfill it based on God's word and my love for my husband. I didn't consider the difficulties of two individuals from TOTALLY DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS coming together to live as one. Yes, God joined us together, but our human nature challenged every area of our union.
I will go into more depth about my marriage in a future blog post.
I played this role so well that after his death, it took me years to remember God created Marietta first with Mrs. Jones in mind, not the reverse. I was almost crippled from his death and from no longer having the role of a wife.
Those that know me to know I'm a ride-or-die friend! I always believe people cross my path for a reason, and only time can unfold what that reason is, so I still embrace those I encounter. Because many perceive me as "the church girl" or the title the guys I work out
with as "sister Mary," many would perceive me as being weak, timid, and naïve in life.
I would put my feelings on the back burner if it meant others felt better. I would consider others more than myself. I had to confront and break out of that role that had me in bondage. To do so, I had to go to those who hurt me and tell them how their actions affected me, and let them know I forgave them. I also had to ask forgiveness from those I hurt because of this self-imposed bondage. The best liberation is honesty and transparency.
Again, I played the role because it was easier to go with it than prove who I was. Life had to teach me that people only accept what you give them. I'm thankful for their view of me, but TRUST ME; I'm far from being meek or timid! As Pastor Reginald Lane would say, I ain't no punk!
In the early '90s, I knew God had a particular purpose for my life to be more than just a church member. Because I loved God and wanted to live a life pleasing to Him, I went to my pastors and began training for ministry. I was licensed as a minister in 1995, attended William Tyndale Bible School, and ordained in 1999.
Somewhere before ordination, I created an identity of being Minister Marietta Mills, so much so that I only read or studied the bible to preach rather than to gain knowledge to live by. Once I became convicted, I sat myself down from pulpit ministry. It was more important to please God than man at that point.
It was a struggle for a moment because I saw those I started within the ministry and those I mentored seemingly advance more than me. The invitations to speak stopped, and I would be asked if I was still a minister; really! My answer was and will always be yes because ministry is a lifestyle and not a title!
Over the years, I began to feel a shift from pulpit ministry to purposefully interacting with people and walking with them versus just preaching to them.
The Apostle Paul wrote, "For [even the whole] creation [all nature] waits eagerly for the children of God to be revealed." (Rom 8:19 AMP)
With all the hell going on in the earth, creation is looking for something to hope in, believe in, and trust, and God has invested in His children that can heal the world, but we must show up. And sometimes it's outside the walls of a building.
If you look at the disciples, they lived, breathed, and interacted with those they ministered to. The religious leaders hid in the Synagogue's confines – untouchable or unrelatable to the plight of the people.
Ooops, I didn’t mean to preach here. After all, I no longer do that, right? LOL. Nothing against anyone at all; this was my personal revelation/journey.
Within each of these roles, I had victories, some failures, and losses but played them all with ALL that was in me, sometimes to the point that I lost who Marietta truly was. I had to be the best at each role for the person/people I presented myself to. I would often tell myself that I play the part that’s given me. If you thought all I could do was take notes, I was the best note-taker. A woman of prayer, quiet, reserved, peacemaker, friend/sister. I did whatever I could to meet that expectation. But I suppressed the other facets of what made me who I am.
There were moments I got mad at people for only looking at me in specific roles. Still, I realized that there is a difference between arrogance and humility and humility and low self-esteem. It’s not arrogant to walk in who God has created you to be – at work, in relationships, or ministry. I’m so THANKFUL I’ve learned that I should NEVER dim my light to make others accept me.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:13-16 Message Version)
I want to encourage every father/mother, brother/sister, husband/wife, son/daughter, employer/employee, whatever role you find yourself in any given moment, NOT to LOSE who God created you to be at your core. I realized that each of the roles I played lasted for a season, but God and Marietta are the only constants in this equation called life.
The moment I took the pressure off myself to act/perform at other expectations was when the Psalmist David's words became life to me, "Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God-you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day." (Ps 139:13-16 Message Version)
I can honestly say that my light shines brighter now than it ever has before. My life is no longer a role I play out before the world to be scripted by others, but it's a true reflection of the beautiful creation that is me!