As we wrap up January’s theme “Awaken Your Soul,” I’m excited to invite you into a conversation with Sharon Hodde Miller. Sharon is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog and has written for a variety of other resources including Relevant and Today’s Christian Woman. Her blog, She Worships, zeroes in on a critical theme we’ve been looking at this month: worship.
Welcome, Sharon! Tell my readers a bit about yourself.
I guess I’ll share a few highlights. I am a southern gal. My husband and I are both from North Carolina, but we moved to the Chicago area about 3 years ago for school. Now we’re both working on our PhD’s and raising our 17 month-old son, which means that our lives are a lot of fun and also totally insane.
In between all that, I write.
Your blog has the theme “She Worships.” Why did you pick that focus? What does it mean to you?
I started my blog about 7 years ago. At the time I was teaching and discipling college women, and I wanted another avenue to reach and encourage them. That’s how I began blogging, and eventually it morphed into a larger ministry to women (although a lot of men read my blog too!).
As for the title, I picked “She Worships” because it’s what we were all created for. If you could boil our existence down to one thing, that is it. Romans 12:1 tells us that worship is not confined to the walls of a church, but is instead a lifestyle. Everything we do, from Sunday morning hymns to marriage, to parenting, to going to the grocery store, to cleaning the toilet — it can all be an expression of worship.
I have tried to write my blog with that broader theology in view. I cover a lot of topics, but all with an eye to worshiping and glorifying Christ.
What has God been teaching you lately about worship?
Lately God has been teaching me just how hard it is. Not hard in the sense that it’s grueling, but in the sense that it is not the natural inclination of my flesh.
Actually, when I think about it, my flesh IS inclined to worship, but it is not inclined to worship God. Instead, I find myself constantly tempted toward lesser, false gods.
I have found that if I don’t keep the gospel directly before me, I will chase after other things: the approval of others, my own fame, a comfortable life, etc. Without realizing it, I slip into worshiping some other thing, hoping it will give me the peace, joy and hope I can only have in Christ.
So I have to work hard at worship. My soul is like a musical instrument that gradually slips out of tune if left unattended, so I must retune my heart to the gospel again and again.
I can always tell that my heart is out of tune with the gospel when I spend a lot of time thinking about myself. Tim Keller has this great little book called The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, and in it he explains that focusing on yourself is a sign of spiritual sickness. In the same way that you only focus on your ankle when it is injured and out of sync with your body, it is the same with your soul. When you are spiritually unwell, your focus turns inward.
I’ve learned that whenever I focus on myself, it’s because of some insecurity or woundedness in me. There is some part of my life and heart that needs the good news and the healing of the gospel to speak into it and set me free. Only then will I be liberated to “forget myself” and focus solely on God.
All of that to say, we are at our best when we are oriented toward God in worship. The worship shaped life is one that is healthy and full. It means I am not distracted by a spiritual limp, but am free to gaze upon the fullness of His beauty.
When I think about the goodness of worship, that is what I think about.
What are some ways we can take worship out of a narrow box of understanding and translate it into the context of our everyday lives?
Ann Voskamp talks a lot about gratitude residing at the heart of worship, and I agree. It’s harder to worship God if your spirit is sour or ungrateful.
As a mother of a small child, I struggle with that a lot. It’s hard to worship God when my son refuses to take a nap, or is throwing a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him play on the stairs, or when I am kicking aside toys and mess all over the house because neither my husband nor I have the time to clean.
But there is always more than one way to look at a situation. I have a friend whose newborn son is currently fighting for his life. Every day that she has with him is a gift. In fact, every minute that she has with him is a gift. When I think about her and then I look at my son, I am filled with gratitude for the tantrums of a healthy-lunged little boy, and the mess of a house well lived in. It makes me thankful for the many gifts that God has given me out of His abundant grace, and then the worship pours out.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Sharon! Readers, be sure to check out Sharon’s blog, SheWorships.com.