I remember it like it was yesterday, when a new-to-me-speaker posed a question that crawled under my skin and has been itching ever since–
“Are you the kind of person who walks into a room and declares, ‘Here I am!’ or do you walk into the room and say, ‘There you are!’?”
I wasn’t an “all about me” person, but I’m naturally outgoing and comfortable talking to new people, and I know how to work a crowd. My nerves do rattle on the inside, but they’re the energy that fuels confidence and conversation.
It also wasn’t that I didn’t notice other people; but the question forced me to realize I was more concerned about myself than others. Ouch.
Over the past ten years, through unexpected personal deserts and crazy life, I’ve tried to become a There you are! friend, the one who notices what you’re not saying as much as what you do. I’ve challenged myself to notice people in the margins, and in a stroke of serendipity and Divine providence, I’ve wandered into those places myself, learning by experience what it feels like to be ignored, rejected, forgotten, irrelevant and sometimes invisible.
I’ve hated it.
But on the other side of those hard lessons and hurt feelings is what has become a passion of mine, redemptive purpose.
Just as sure as the sun hangs in the sky behind a veil of dark clouds, God is accomplishing his will and his ways even when I can’t see his hand at work.
And when I do gain insight and understanding in the aftermath of pain or heartache? It is astonishing gift and grace to discover beauty among ashes.
Pride and ego were subtle idols of mine. God was kind enough to reveal them to me in a way that would sear an impression on my heart and ultimately change me.
It’s been a long, long while since I’ve attended a Beth Moore Bible study. I forgot how she gets to me, how every study I’ve ever taken will somehow speak a word over me so strong it’s undeniable God had her write it just for me.
It was in the fourth week, day three, on her study of James, when a section started doing its thing…
“Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)
Beth spoke about “land mines that go with the territory” of teaching –
- The temptation to teach more than we know.
- The capacity to mislead.
- The capacity to be misled.
- The temptation to use the platform for personal agendas or opinions.
And though not exactly in the context of teacher, I sensed these land mines speaking to my life as a writer.
It would seem that the natural progression for a long-term blogger is to write a book. This is the childhood dream of countless blogger-friends. Those of you who’ve followed our site since its inception know many of our regular contributors have gone on to lovely writing careers, with still others to launch their first book in 2015 (so excited!).
Here’s the thing that’s hard for me to admit: Writing a book hasn’t been my life-long dream, and yet, I feel pressure to “publish or perish.”
I feel like I’m supposed to write a book by this stage in the game (is that crazy or do you know what I mean??). I even have a list of working titles, projects that are important to me, ideas with value and substance that I haven’t been able to let go. But I haven’t been willing to take next steps for a number reasons . . .
But then the fourth week of the James Bible study, piggy-backing on 10 years of There you are!-ing, hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized three important things:
1. The check in my heart was telling me something important.
It is essential to be honest about your motives when you say yes to opportunity or commit to a project. Are you following the Lord’s leading or are you barreling ahead and hoping He’ll bless you after the fact? Are you serving yourself or the greater good? Is it about you or others? There’s a large part of me that would like to one day write a book, but until it’s for only the right reasons I’m trying to choose contentment and affirmation in waiting.
2. There is a time.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture because it speaks so strongly to the human condition. For everything there is a season…. Such beautiful wisdom. I don’t know what your hopes or dreams are. I don’t know your stage of life or your frustrating or heartbreaking circumstances. But I do know that everything is working together for good, for your good and God’s glory. The roughest seasons of my life have taught me the most; and the double beauty is they are. not. wasted. That, my friends, is redemptive purpose.
3. Not now doesn’t mean not ever.
Say it again, out loud. Not now doesn’t mean not ever. Each season of life brings with it its own set of demands and concerns unique for that season. The “urgent tyrannies” that tug and tax a young mom gradually fade until silenced. The role of shuttle driver doesn’t last forever. The onslaught of change at mid-life eventually settles.
You might be in the midst of a season of personal sacrifice, called to give up what you would love to do, in order to love and serve well those around you. Of this, I’m sure: your interests and your passions will likely evolve over time, and what is The Most Important Thing to you today won’t be next year. What you want to do and can’t now, may not be what you want to do but can in the future.
While I don’t know the inner battles you’re fighting, I have a hunch you can always use reminding of who you are and Whose you are, and you, sweet Lovie, have something incredible to offer, in time and in season.
You are one of a kind,
known before time
and loved without condition.
Is there something you haven’t been able to let go?
A long-buried dream?
In light of my thoughts today, tell me yours?
With love from me and all praise to the Giver of good and perfect gifts,
~ robin(P.S. I’m joining Nester in her annual #31Days, creating a helpful guide for parents with college-bound students. If you read and/or share, thank you!)