Simple Stories

This was written yesterday in case anyone who knows the particulars is reading.

I’ve been looking back today. Looking back on what happened over thirty years ago. I wasn’t in town on the day it happened. I was several states away. But, I came home a few days later and got to hold an unexpected blessing in my arms. He was so tiny then but already loved by so many. He’s not tiny anymore. He’s a grown man who has been a blessing to all over his life. I remember hearing he and his brothers sing at their father’s funeral a year ago, and I remember when he and his cousin were the ring bearer and flower girl at my own wedding over twenty-five years ago. His family had enfolded me into theirs when I was in college, and we shared all the important family events together…the good ones and the bad ones. There are so many stories I could tell about this family and the life I lived with them. I could fill-up this space and then some with all the stories I could tell.

But, that’s not the reason I share this today. I share it because of how deceptively simple the concept of story is. I have been complicating it with the book I’ve been writing as one of my dreams is to be published one day. I think that may have been the reason the writing has become complicated. I let the end goal complicate the results I’m trying to achieve, and the words stopped gushing. They shouldn’t have. The story I’m trying to tell of a journalist caught up in horrific national events while dealing with her own past is still there. I just can’t make it leave my head and travel to my computer screen.

I want to finish this story though. I want to tell it like I tell the stories of my life. The stories of a life well-lived like some people say at funerals. I don’t know if people will say that about me at my funeral. It’s funny that other people get to make those judgments. It’s almost like my own opinion about my life is not one that will make it into the history books. But I’m going to tell my stories anyway…the simple ones and the complicated ones. The ones that people want to hear and the ones they don’t. The times when I lived to glorify my Lord and Savior and the times when I didn’t. The stories that taught me life lessons and the ones that are just better for a desk drawer. Because if I don’t tell my stories, then who will?

I might never be as popular as J.K. Rowling or Danielle Steel. I might never write or sell as many books as James Patterson or Dan Brown. I might never win the Nobel Prize for Literature like Toni Morrison who died today. One thing though that I’m pretty sure we all share is the ability to tell a story. Whether that story is simple or complicated, we are forever yoked in the need to tell it. Because that is what our history is built on. The concept of story. From the parables of Jesus to the novels of today, all who tell stories are building on what has come before and making our lives understandable to those who will come in the future.

May we all have a chance to tell our stories! God bless you!

Words and Grace

I didn’t know I would be at this place when I completed my literary quotes series, but I think God planned it that way. Through my choice of which quote to use and through my experiences God showed me that I would have words to say about this very important quote.

First, let me share this quote by Elie Wiesel, Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. “Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. Now, I want to make it clear I’m not comparing myself to Wiesel. He survived the Holocaust, one of the worst atrocities in world history, and he had the courage to write about it, to put words on paper so that we would, hopefully, never repeat the experience again. Now, the jury is out on us repeating the experience of persecuting people for the color of their skin, for their gender, for their religious beliefs, or for where they were born. In fact, let me go ahead and say these are still things that happen today however much we might not want them to or however much we might think we’ve “grown”.

But, Wiesel’s words inspired me, and they preserved history. And preserved a piece of his soul, I would think. He couldn’t prevent what happened to him and his family, but he could write it down for future generations to remember. This is how I believe his words could attain the quality of deeds. They help us learn about the dark parts of a man’s soul.

A man’s soul has light parts too, and this is where I believe it’s important for us to look at how God wants us to see words. There are many examples in Scripture, but I just want to focus on two of them today. Proverbs 18:21 says this, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” I remember reading somewhere that the tongue is the smallest organ in the body, but one which has the potential to cause the most damage. I agree with that and understand why God chose to tell us to be careful with our tongues. The other example is similar but is in the New Testament. From Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This means we’re supposed to build each other up with our words not tear each other down. Are we successful at this? Sometimes, yes, but, more often than not, no. It is something that is a work in progress.

Now, I started off talking about the written word and then switched to the spoken word. The question I want to ask now is about the application of Scripture to the written word. Is it the same as the tongue? Do we need to watch what we write as well as what we speak? I believe so. I believe God wants us to watch all of our words–both spoken and written–with the extra caveat that written words are more likely to be remembered as I’ve already discussed.

Usually, in these posts, I’ve written about how the quote relates to my life, but I’ve waited until now to do it for this one. There’s a reason for that. Sometimes, I lock up on the words I speak. I have a hard time thinking of what I want to say during the moment, and those moments usually turn out to be disasters. I’m sure that’s happened to a lot of us. 🙂 What that means for me though is that I communicate better using the written word. When I have the time to think about what I want to say, it generally comes out better and is more understandable.

Words and grace–I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded at giving grace with my spoken words and my written words. I haven’t made the effort to understand where a person might be coming from who is uttering hurtful words to me, and I’ve let my spoken words leave my tongue and my written words appear on paper faster than they should. As I end this series on writing quotes, I want to apologize to anyone who I’ve ever offended with my words–either spoken or written and pledge to make a renewed effort to be the writer and speaker God wants me to be.

Praying God’s blessings on you all!

 

The Gift

It’s interesting that I’m starting to write about this quote after I finished Margaret Atwood’s Master Class last week. One of the final lessons talked about how books represent two different kinds of economy–commercial and gift. When I looked back at the quote, I thought about how this could all be interwoven which makes it the perfect topic for me to discuss today.

First, I need to share the quote. It’s by Amy Tan, and she says this about writing. “Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone. A gift. I can see that. I pour a lot of myself into each story I write, so much, that I usually need to take a break after I write a piece so I can regain some of my creative energy. It can be mentally draining to write a story, book, blog post, article, anything really. I’m not saying other creative professions don’t experience that same mental draining. I’m just talking about my own experiences as a writer. But, if I were to guess, I would say it is true across all creative professions. Expressing our gift, our creativity, is work, but it’s also what we give to the world so it’s unique.

Once a book is finished though, it moves through the commercial economy and becomes a commodity to be bought and sold which, I think, makes it confusing for people who wonder why books cost so much, well, why any creative endeavor costs money. They think that any person expressing their creative gifts should be willing to express then for free. Now, many creative people do express their gifts for free which, I think, has made us feel entitled to receive all creative gifts for free. (Hence, the proliferation of online pirating of authors’ work)

But, because of this reasoning and this entitlement, many writers and other creative people have to work more than one job to afford the commodities of life–food, shelter, healthcare, transportation, etc., etc. This makes them have less time to focus on their writing or creative endeavors and makes sure that the rest of us lose out on what might have been an amazing piece of creative expression.

I digress though. Today’s quote is about how writing is a gift not how people aren’t willing to pay for creativity as a commodity. Writing has certainly been a gift to me. It has allowed me to make sense of my life and realize that it has been a life worth living. I have shared my story by writing it down, and now it exists in written form for generations to come. That’s the gift I offer to the people in my life, and I encourage you to do the same. We are a people of story, after all.

Have a great day, everyone!

My Highest Aspirations

It’s the third week in my writing quote series, and I am particularly fond of the quote I’m using this week. It’s by Louisa May Alcott who authored one of my favorite books as a young person, Little Women. She wrote novels, short stories, and poems in the nineteenth century when times weren’t the best for women. She had aspirations though, and that is why I like this quote. “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

Aspirations–we all have them. From the highly unlikely to come true like winning the lottery to the mundane like having enough to spend at the grocery store and everything in-between, we all have aspirations. If we are Christians, we should also have the aspiration to be led by God in everything we say and do and to share the love of Jesus with everyone we know.

I don’t know a whole lot about Alcott except that she wrote some excellent books, but she had dreams like all of us do. Aspirations. She knew she might not reach all of them, but that didn’t prevent her from having them, and it didn’t prevent her from trying to reach them either.

Those are beliefs I’m trying to pull into myself as I’m living this new life of mine as an empty-nester trying to break into freelance writing. My biggest dream, my biggest aspiration is to have a published book. To have other people read my words and be encouraged by them, to be entertained by my stories. I believe this is a path God is taking me on.

But, I’ve realized this path is probably not going to look like what I think it needs to look like, and that’s where the quote comes in. I believe God gives us aspirations and hopes and dreams for our lives. He wants us to depend on Him totally as we walk towards the future with Him at our side. Sometimes our job will be to help others reach their aspirations while at other times, we will reach the aspirations He has called us to.  This is when we need to give Him the credit since we can’t reach those aspirations on our own. We don’t do this well though because we like to think we maintain control in our lives by proclaiming our independence from others. I struggle with this daily because I want to be the one who claims the credit. But, God wants the credit. He wants those who don’t know Him to see Him in us as we experience the joys and sorrows of this life which includes the successes and the failures of our aspirations.

So, that’s why I love the quote. It lets me see the aspirations God is giving me, but, at the same time, tells me how God wants them to look and not how I want them to look. If we are Christ’s disciple, should we expect anything else?

Hope everyone has a great day!

 

The Emotions of Writing

It’s time for another excerpt in my writing quote series for this month. I feel like this is going to be a tough one to write because I’m still getting the hang of showing versus telling in my writing, and emotions, in particular, are harder to interpret with just words. But, those who are further along in their craft, are able to show emotions in their work and elicit emotions from the reader. This is what inspires me to continue to work on the craft of writing–to be good enough to write a complete story which brings out all elements of the human experience including emotions.

First, let me share the quote for this week. It’s by James Michener and reflects how I feel about the words I put together. “I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” Aren’t these words amazing? A true expression of how a writer can make people feel as they read the words they have written. These feelings can be good. They can be bad. They can share sadness. They can express joy. Every feeling in the human experience can be shown through words. But, (and I bet you knew there would be a but), it’s not good enough to just say someone is sad. For it to have an impact on the reader, it has to be shown they are sad. Here’s an example.

“Joanna couldn’t believe he had just walked out the door. Tears poured down her face as she slumped to the floor. It was like when her mother had died. She could see no path back to when she and Eric had been happy. She knew it was time to move on, but she had to grieve her loss first.”

I have read so many books that have done this well. Brought the zenith of the human experience to me–the highs and lows of this life. I think that’s why Jesus told so many stories. He knew those stories would be the best way for us to learn about Him. We are a people of stories.

But, to write those stories. That is much harder. To write them well, I mean.  I find I need to write about my life for it to make sense to me. When I write about my emotions though, I just name them and don’t do a good job of showing I have them. I’ve found people don’t respond well when I do that, especially with negative emotions. They see the word of the emotion, and all of their connotations of that emotion come to the forefront without them even considering what it means to the writer. But, I keep trying. Trying to make myself understandable through my words since I have such a tough time doing it in person.

As I’ve already said, expressing emotions well can be done in writing. It can be done with negative emotions and positive emotions. Here’s an example with positive emotions.

“Her eyes lit up like the sun coming out after a cloudy day. She extended her trembling left hand towards where Robert was holding the ring. Her smile extended from ear to ear. ‘Yes, Robert, I will marry you.'”

The examples I’ve shared here are just a few of what I’ve accumulated with my writing. Through my reading, writing, and research each day, I store words in my heart by reading the greats in my field and write them on paper to practice what I’ve learned. This has helped in my development as a writer. The one thing that has helped the most though is the emotions I’ve experienced in my life. Yes, you can write about emotions without experiencing them. But, I find that experiencing the emotions makes my writing deeper and puts it further towards the chance of being published. Emotions–they’re a part of what makes us human whether we are experiencing them, reading about them, or writing about them.

Let me know the hardest emotion you’ve ever had to write in the comments.

Have a great day, all!

Language

I’ve decided on a different focus for this month, one that I hope will better help me understand this desire I have to put words together into sentences which flow into paragraphs which tell a story. I’ve used quotes about writing before and used paragraphs to explain what each one meant to me. This month I want to take a writing quote each week and dissect it down to its bones. Explain its meaning not only to me but what I think it could mean to all of us. And, so, this week I am talking about language, the thing that allows us to write, and the thing that allows us to talk.

Before I go any further, let me share the quote. It’s from Joyce Carol Oates, and it’s the one that inspired me to put this series together. “The use of language is all we have to pit against death and silence.” I look at this quote and wonder what I would do if I was suddenly silenced. If I could no longer speak, if I could no longer write, no longer communicate at all. Or even if I was limited in what I could speak or write. Those ‘amens’ I said yesterday morning at church, the words I sang, they would no longer be possible. How would I express myself to the people I love? How would I praise my Lord and Savior? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. And, if I couldn’t communicate, if we couldn’t communicate, there would only be silence as the quote says. Because communicating is so important to us as a species, I believe death would follow shortly thereafter as the quote also says.

There have even been books written about the limitations of language. The most recent of these was the novel Vox written by debut author Christina Dalcher in which women and girls are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. I haven’t read it so I’m not qualified to review it, but the concept is terrifying. How my faith could turn into something so restrictive is almost beyond words and something, I believe, God would not want to happen.

Because God created all of us with the ability to speak and the ability to write, and I don’t believe He meant for any restrictions to be put on it like the modern-day church has attempted to do. We are all; men and women, black and white; capable of using language for God’s glory. We are also capable of messing up in our use of language. Messing up through our sin and messing up because we’re not with Jesus yet.  But, that doesn’t mean we quit using language. It means that we need to make sure our language and our deeds match up so we can be the people Jesus wants us to be. It means apologizing when we mess up and doing our best not to repeat what we’ve done. It especially means respecting the gift of language God has given us and using it the way He wants us to. So, if I’ve ever not used God’s gift of language wisely, I want to apologize to those who read this blog and to those who know me in real life. The way we combine our language and our deeds can be the way God uses to bring someone to the Kingdom, and that, as Christians, should be our staunchest desire.

May we all recognize the beauty of language in our lives, and may we use it for His purpose.

God bless you all today!

How Far I’ve Come

When we’re trying to implement changes in our lives whether they be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, we sometimes have a hard time knowing if what we’re doing is actually making a difference. Or at least, I do. The old adage of one step forward and two steps back has been a big part of my journey this year. But yesterday, a status came up on my Facebook memories that caused me to take stock of the journey I’ve taken over the past year. What was it? Well, a year ago yesterday, I had boarded my first international flight in twenty-six years to go to Honduras. Here is what I looked like on our first day of work which was a year ago today.  I had such a blast playing with those children. We had other good experiences too like helping to build latrines, holding Vacation Bible Schools, and getting to know the people at the churches my church in the US sponsors.   I came home from that trip changed, but I didn’t know how far-reaching the changes would turn out to be.

I knew I was in bad physical shape as the summer drifted to a close in August. I was going to have opportunities I hadn’t had in a while though since I was done homeschooling. My son was going to be taking classes at our local community college. I wanted to have a new focus on my life which would include writing, and, I decided, physical fitness. I wasn’t concerned about the number of my weight. I just wanted to feel better. So, I started. I would use the elliptical in my complex three days a week and walk the other two days. At first, I could only do 15-20 minutes before I had to quit because of being out-of-breath. But, I persisted. September passed. So did October and November. Then, I noticed I was feeling better physically. My clothes were looser too. It was a good feeling.

We had gotten to the months though where my depression usually kicked me in the teeth. December and January. I was going through the stages of having an empty nest and everything that went with it. I felt as grey as the clouds in this picture. I’m smiling in the picture, but there were many times that I cried. I felt like my efforts weren’t getting me anywhere and asked myself how anyone else could possibly want me around when I wasn’t even sure I liked myself. But, I persisted. I wrote every day even if it was just three pages in my journal. I worked out on the elliptical three days a week and walked the other days. My whole outlook swung from feeling really good to really sad. That’s what depression does.

The months flowed forward, and spring came to my part of the world. I noticed I could walk wherever I wanted in our complex, and I wouldn’t get tired. I was able to buy clothes in a smaller size, and my face looked thinner. I did my first 5K in March. I was really proud of that one. I also went to my first writers’ conference and met some neat people. I felt like I was making progress though I hadn’t sold any of my writing yet.

There are some anniversaries in the spring though that bring sadness to my household. It’s hard to remain positive when other people are sad which meant I continued to flip-flop. There would be days I would feel great, and there would be other days where I wondered how I could possibly be good company for anyone else since I felt so rotten about myself. That’s what having mental health issues does for you. But, I persisted. I kept working out. I kept writing. And I kept talking to someone when I needed to.

The beginning of May came, and my oldest graduated from college. The bad holidays came and went, and we settled into summer. I started hearing rumors about this year’s Honduras team, and I was sad and jealous. I knew there wouldn’t be an opportunity to go this year because of some financial constraints from the spring. I was also still trying to figure out where I fit in as I negotiated this new life of mine.

But then, yesterday rolled around, and I saw the status. I looked at my picture from last year, and one that was taken last week. I have come a long way. My friend told me I should plan to go next year, and I’ve set that as a goal for myself. God has a place for me in this life, and though I might not know all of it yet, I know He’ll be with me through it all!

God bless you!

Thoughts and Meanderings

I have a number of titles for this post swirling around in my head, but since I can’t zero in on one, I thought I’d start writing and see where the words took me. It’s Monday, the day after what we consider to be the Christian Sabbath, and I find myself still processing what was said yesterday and regaining the energy I expended from being around so many people. It’s almost like the Sabbath is happening for me today instead of yesterday. At least, that’s when calmness and quiet invade my soul, and I feel like I’m truly able to rest which is what the word sabbath actually means.

Why is that though? Why do I feel like I truly don’t rest on Sundays when that is the day we’re supposed to rest? By the way, before I start, let me say I’m in utter admiration of all the people who work in our churches on Sundays. Those who preach sermons, those who take care of our children, even all who volunteer to make our times of worshipping our Lord and Savior the best they can be. I hope and pray that these people find times of rest and relaxation through what they do on Sundays or at other times during the week.

But this post is about why I, at times, feel like the Sabbath Day is not a day of rest for me. First, it’s the whole matter of getting up, going to church, and seeing other people. It takes a lot of energy for me to “perform” and “pretend”. We’re not ourselves when we’re at church much as we might want to be. Think about it and be honest. Do you tuck away your burdens and your heartaches when you go to church? Most of us do because of fears of judgment and rejection. Even when there is a time for taking prayer requests, people will usually only mention people who are sick or in the hospital about to have surgery. It can be exhausting to navigate through all of it.

So, that’s one reason I feel like Sunday is not a day of Sabbath rest for me. Another is the length of time it takes for me to process what was said–during Sunday School and during worship time. Every speaker usually has something worthwhile to say, but I need to listen carefully and internalize it before it becomes a part of me which can take awhile. Even, this afternoon, more than twenty-four hours later, I’m still processing what Jesus said in Luke 11:13 about how our Father wants to give us even more than we give our own children–an apt illustration of how God is our Father.

Finally, Sunday has the potential of not being a true Sabbath for me because of my confusion over my faith and the conversations I have with Jesus in my head and what “living in community” really means. It’s a challenge. Everyone is more comfortable in their own friend group and is not willing to reach out to the people who are different. I try, and then I watch, and it seems like nothing has changed. The church looks just like the world, and it’s discouraging. And, when I’m discouraged, I get tired. It’s a vicious cycle.

I don’t have any solutions to this yet. I’m sure I’ll be working through it until the day I die. But, I do feel more rested today, and I have more of an understanding. Maybe I can use the Sabbath rest I get today to try again next Sunday. Thanks for listening to my thoughts and meanderings. Feel free to share yours in the comments.

God bless you all!

 

 

Holding Space for Grief

I’ve been reading the book Inspired by Rachel Held Evans, and it has validated a lot of my own ideas about my faith and how I view Jesus, the one I call my Lord and Savior. I was inspired to start it (pun not intended) when I heard of her unexpected death last month at the age of 37. I haven’t finished it yet, but I wanted to speak to one of the topics today as I have a lot of experience with it.

So, holding space for grief. Over the past few years, I’ve learned about lament and about how many of the Psalms in Scripture are psalms of lament. In them, God is cursed, wrestled with, complained to, and doubted. It was almost a relief for me to see the words in black and white and see that they matched the thoughts that were in my head. Evans provided a few examples I want to mention.

From Psalm 139:19-22:

“If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.”

Or from Psalm 109:9-12:

“May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.”

Not quite the words people usually share from Scripture. Right?

But, I find I must quote them if only to bring to light a major problem in the American church and some hypocrisy in my own life. There is a lack of lament in the American church. There is no “holding space” for those in grief. The nearest we come to it is individual counseling with church staff members or with trusted friends. We all suffer from the heaviest of burdens, but we refuse to lament with each other. We just pretend that everything is okay. Evans had this to say which says it better than I could. “That American tendency toward triumphalism, of optimism rooted in success, money, and privilege, will infect and sap of substance any faith community that has lost its capacity for “holding space” for those in grief.” (pg. 110, Inspired, Rachel Held Evans) No one is willing to sit with people in their pain without judging or offering solutions. They don’t want to share their pain either because they are afraid of being judged. This is a conundrum I’m not sure how to navigate, but I see it as a problem we, in the church, need to talk about. The comment I quoted also reflects how we choose our leaders. Because there is a veneer over their appearance in which none of their burdens are seen, we choose them thinking they are effective leaders. But then, we don’t allow them to lament or lament to them, and the cycle starts all over again

These words have resulted in another conundrum in my own life, one which I’m not proud of. There are many times I don’t feel seen in my faith community or in my life. There was even one time I was told to “go away” by someone in my faith community. As you can imagine, that comment made me feel like garbage. But, it brought me to a conclusion. I want to be important, to be an influence too. I want to be noticed and to have friends. Isn’t that what being a faith community is all about? Isn’t that the definition of community? I believe we should recognize ALL of those in our faith communities whether they are leaders or not.  But, it also made me ashamed. It made me think my wanting to be an influence was not coming from the purest of motives, that I was letting Satan influence me.

But, Jesus clarified my thoughts and reminded me of something. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to be an influence for Him. He reminded me I probably wouldn’t have done the reading I’ve done if I’d been more of a “person of influence” or “leader” in my faith community. My heart wouldn’t have been open to the changes it has undergone, and I wouldn’t have been willing to explore the concept of lament or to challenge the status quo either. He wanted me to be open to His voice.

Let me leave you with another quote by Evans to consider. “Life is full of the sort of joys and sorrows that don’t resolve neatly in a major key. God knows that. The Bible knows that. Why don’t we?” (pg. 111, Inspired, Rachel Held Evans)

God bless you all today!

The Tension of Striving

I’ve been thinking about this lately. Striving, striving, and striving again with my writing. Getting rejected and being knocked down by said rejection. Thinking I had nothing to contribute because I was so different. Getting back up and trying again. Wondering if I was where God wanted me.

These are all things that have created this tension within me and, I’m pretty sure, within all of us who are creatives. This brings me to a question. How can I create from a settled place? Does there always have to be tension, or can I actually feel settled as I create? This place would say I’m going to keep trying no matter what, but it would also say the writing, just the writing, is what matters in the grand scheme of things. Not the achievements that could come, not the goals that could be reached, just the writing.

For me, I have figured out I need three things to feel settled as I write so I can strive from the best place. The first of these is my writing life itself. Octavia E. Butler had this to say about writing. “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking its good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. So, persistence is important in staying settled. I also like this quote by Anne Frank. “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Writing also helps my courage. That’s another reason to keep doing it. Finally, one of my favorite quotes by Virginia Woolf leads into my second thing. “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” This is truth for me, so much truth.

This also leads to the second thing I need to be settled with in order to write from my best place. My life. That’s it, plain and simple. I might not ever have any family or friends that read my writing or encourage me with it. I might always be considered too strange to contribute to anything or anyone else. There might not be people who want to be my friends because they don’t like who I am and wish I would be different. But, I can’t be different. I can only be the way God made me, and that needs to be enough.  Enough for the settling and enough for the striving.

Finally, I need to be settled with my faith in order to be at the place where I can strive with my writing. I’ve spent a long time denying who I am–not in the blogosphere, but in the real world. I want to be accepted in my community (Who doesn’t?) so I pretend to like things I really don’t and don’t talk about things I do like. It’s a conundrum. We try to fit in when we’re not made to fit in. We’re made to stand apart and reflect the love of our God who made us. As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus died on the cross for all of us, and for me, when I’m settled in this truth, I can strive and I can write with my truest self.

Praying for all of us to have success in the tension of striving!