My parents came to visit several months ago and dropped off the remainder of my crap that had been sitting in their basement for the past decade (sorry about that Dad and Cindy!). Now that we have a basement of our own, we have the space to house these untouched boxes and storage containers.
And by crap I mean all the excess and remainder of what I had chosen over the years not to carry with me into my current home and stage of life. The old prom dresses, photo albums, loose photos, letters/cards, and random things that for one reason of another I chose never to let go of or put in their proper place. They were at one point in my life significant, but now, ten years later, these things were nothing but artifacts of a past I really didn’t want to remember.
A couple of weeks ago I got up the courage to open those boxes that essentially represented Pandora at her finest self. What I thought would be a quick 30 minute task of unloading everything into the trashcan ended up being a two hour proverbial archeological dig as I went through piece by piece all those boxes held. Lots of memories were aroused, some good, but mostly bad. These boxes symbolized a part of me that I wanted to leave behind.
The girl I saw in those photos looked sick, almost unrecognizable, she was/I was a reflection of everything “too much” stands for: too much tanning (what in the world was I thinking??), too much drinking, too much covering up, too much starving, too much pretending to be a good person when in fact I was anything but. Too much chasing people, self-images, and things that provided a temporary high.
And then, buried deep within one of those boxes I found a journal. There were only two entries in it but the first began like this:
Today is my first journal entry/contact with you that I have had in…I’m overdue. I don’t know where to begin-I’ve lost myself.
And as I reread those words written almost ten years ago, so many emotions came to the table.
It was my first declaration, my first cry for help. It was a confession, and in between the lines it screamed, “I don’t know what the hell YOU are doing, and I don’t know why the hell YOU are allowing all of this to happen…but I know deep down what I am doing is not the answer.”
And then that was it. No more entries. No more declarations. No further digging, no further confession. That timid, angry, frightened child in me that was coming to her heavenly Father for the first time ran out the door as quickly as she had run in. It would be some two years and a million mistakes later before I would pick up the pen again…before I would cry out for help, before I would write on paper that I had finally come to the end of myself.
So many times throughout the past ten years and really the entirety of my life I have questioned where God was in all the pain? And why wouldn’t He provide the rescue I so desperately craved?
But as I reflected through the contents of this box it became perfectly clear. He was there. He has always been there. His voice, that deep yet almost silent whisper, was calling to me, I just didn’t want to hear it.
I just celebrated my 7th year of a commitment to live a life defined by that whisper. And I have spent a lot of those years questioning God, questioning my purpose, wondering what my gifts were, wondering what all this pain of life means and how can it be used. And I have seven years of journals to prove this questioning process has looked more like a written wrestling match than a perfectly curated Q&A with my creator.
But as scary as it was, I kept putting pen to paper. And out of that process was birthed a love for words and the divine. This blog has been a space to take my relationship with writing public and it has been beautiful yet crazy uncomfortable all at the same time.
Writing has become the way I respond to God's whispers. It is my runway to Him. It is , my “lane.” And as I read that first journal entry from so many years ago, tears filled my eyes, because after reading all the “how to’s” of finding your passion, and the constant prayers asking the Lord to reveal my strengths, I realized this gift had been in front of me the whole time.
And by “gift,” I mean it is how I connect. It is how I love. It is how I capture the beauty and the heartbreak of what I experience. It is how I encourage and process. My friends often joke at my love of letter writing…it is just my thing.
About a month ago, I sat down with a woman who writes for a living. Her number one piece of advice to me was to start owning that title: “When people ask you what you do, you respond with: I am a writer. Own it. And then watch what starts to happen.”
Since starting this blog, I have gotten lots of “I didn’t know you could write…” And to be honest, I didn’t know I could either. It is just something that feels natural and good. It feels like obedience; it is me simply putting one foot in front of the other and then leaving the rest to God.
Although, to be honest, once people started to acknowledge the writing, my ego wanted to make it all about me—focusing on more likes, more followers, and how can I make this thing bigger and better for my own good.
But that’s not what it is about, and my prideful heart has gotten enough lessons in humility to know better (although rest assured, it is a constant battle to remember this).
It is instead about becoming less so He can become more. It is about realizing one anonymous written note of encouragement could have more influence than a NYT best seller ever could or will. It is about being okay with being a force that is both invisible and visible—but neither of these are mine to choose. They are His.
You have a gift, too. You have been wired uniquely, perfectly, to connect to your creator in the most beautiful of ways. Perhaps it’s a love of numbers, science, animals, medicine, music, yoga, art, teaching, parenting, modeling, real estate, law, woodworking… the list could go on and on. You have it, I just know it.
And be certain it has nothing to do with IQ, grade point average, a fancy education or job title. Yes, these things help build and define the gift but at the core, these gifts, your gift, is God-breathed; and He so very much wants to be a part of it. To use you to do both visible and invisible things for His good.
But it will take time. And that’s okay. Growing slow is okay (thank you Laura Casey for that reminder). Organic production is okay. Simply because you do not feel seen or noticed for your gift does not mean He is not using you for His glory and purpose. And just because you may feel like you don’t know what your gift is does not mean God is not using it at this very moment.
He is. And He will continue to, in His time and His pace.
And on the flip side, if you do know your gift, and you are using it on a daily basis, be cognizant of how the world tells you to use it. Remember the whisper and the quiet stirrings. Remember the power of selflessness and anonymity.