I worked really hard for most of my life to be invisible. If I was invisible I could not be hurt. My heart, mind and soul could not take anymore pain. I took my heart, mind and soul and tucked it away neatly in a closet. I put on a smile, told others about Jesus’ love as I worked in full time ministry, all the while my heart was tucked away. I wanted others to find freedom in Jesus, but I would not, could not, did not know how to give myself the same. Honestly, I didn’t really want it. I wanted to be safe.
Seven years ago when I went through the Ultimate Journey through our church God began wooing me out of my closet. I have drawings throughout my journey notebook of a little girl looking through the peep hole of her closet, the door slowly opens and through the three phases the little girl comes fully out to embrace the world. To this day when the going gets rough or my heart is struggling I still long for my closet and the idea of going back into hiding pulls on my mind.
The thing that has kept me writing on the blog is knowing my life story has touched others lives. To those who have shared how you have been encouraged through my words, thank you. They inspire me to keep writing, continue being honest and I am thankful God is able to use my wounds to aid in others healing.
I work in a competitive industry. Social media is a hot topic and there are many working to woo clients. I have asked myself more than once why I am swimming in this pool. I’m not a fan of swimming where everyone else is and I have asked the Lord if this is really where he wants me to be. I have asked him if there is something else I could be doing. I have been searching for the thing that makes me different. What makes me stand out? What makes others come to me, because it does happen, quite frequently actually. I am humbled by it every time it happens and deeply thankful.
I take my job as a social media manager seriously. I see it as an opportunity to help mold and shape the emotional, mental and spiritual thinking of the world. The. Whole. Wide. World! Through each of the posts I share I have an opportunity to build up or tear down. In a world where negativity and sarcasm sells, I want to be different, even if it means I do not get as much social media traffic. I have the ability to inspire the world to get better or bitter. I pray they chose to build up and to get better. I want each person in the world to know they matter. You matter to me and you matter to the God who created heaven and earth. Your life story matters and God loves you right where you are.
I was abused as child, rejected by my classmates (it was how I viewed myself then) and I remember telling myself I would never cry or feel again. It was too painful. When I began sharing my story out loud on the blog it wasn’t scary. I didn’t think anyone was reading it. Then when I realized people where indeed reading it, I only had a handful of readers. Now I can get hundreds of readers in a day (which is small potatoes compared to some of my fellow bloggers) and my story is being read and picked apart by the world. Again I find myself asking if I will stay out of the closet and tell my story. Will I be as honest as when no one was reading my posts. The answer has to be yes. The answer is I have to continue being brave and trust the Lord. I want others to find freedom, real freedom. The kind that comes from Christ alone. The eternal kind of freedom. The freedom I was handing to others yet would not take for myself. I now not only accept it with joy, I am choosing to live in it. Choosing everyday to find joy and contentment. To act out in my words and actions peace, love and patience. These are purposeful choices I can make everyday.
I use to base my ability to to live in these things which requires actions only if the emotion was there. I now realize if I waited for the emotion to come I would wait until the cows come home. It is not enough to wait for the “feeling” to be there. It is a conscious, purposeful decision I must make everyday.
I use to think there are people who have their crap together and those who do not. Those who I viewed as having their life together looked beautiful on the outside. Yet, on the inside their story revealed brokenness. Yet, there where others who looked broken on the outside, but had the most beautiful, peaceful, loving and compassionate character you will ever meet on this side of heaven.
Every single human being on this planet has stories that are messy, bumpy, curvy and can feel ugly to the person experiencing it first hand everyday. We often feel stuck in our stories and wonder if there will ever be a way out. It has not been in big leaps that growth has come in my life and the life of my family. It has taken itty-bitty-teeny-sometimes-horrifyingly-scary baby steps. The steps you are seeing someone take whether speaking on a stage, buying a home, boat, RV or anything else you are seeing has taken time.
The times when I have lived out my story to the fullest rather than try to mimic someone else’s definition of life, is when we have actually gone forward. No one can define what going forward looks like except you. Maybe going forward looks like working a full time 9-5 while building a business or ministry. Maybe it looks like becoming a full time stay at home parent. No one can define what success looks like in your life except you.
This was and is a scary realization when I came to the conclusion my life is my responsibility. There is grief as I look back and realize there where steps I wish I would have taken sooner. Steps which would have brought me closer to where I want to be today. Then I stop and look myself in the mirror. Every step I have taken has brought someone new in my life. Someone I was meant to meet and learn from. I would not trade the relationships God has brought into my life through my whole 37 years of building my life story.
My story with all of its mistakes, hurts, frustrations, successes, loves, adventure is mine. I can see how God has interwoven my life. Those he has brought into my life at specific times to bring to the next chapter. Each one has brought adventure, life, joy and scary as hell, out of my comfort zone growth spurts. Growth spurts I thought I would die through. Like a water slide completely encapsulated so you cannot see the outside, predict the jumps or bumps. Then as suddenly as it starts, it ends and the next scene begins. I am often left dumb founded and wondering what happened.
I now know this happened because I had not taught myself to live in the here and now. To enjoy and embrace life around me. I can plan and work for tomorrow, but I need to not run towards it like the house is on fire. I need to feel every uncomfortable flame and allow the heat to purify and mold me. Then use the experience after I have gone through it to help others be able to with stand the heat as well. I cannot be taken out of the heat, I cannot save you from it, but we can teach each others tools to help determine what the next steps will be. No one can save me from the hard steps I have to take.
The most vital thing I have learned in embracing my story is to find my tribe. Find the people God has placed in my life to go through the fire with you. I am humbly overwhelmed by the love, support and encouragement we receive everyday. My story feels similar to being asked to walk through the Red Sea or build an ark. It doesn’t make sense, not even to me. Before Mark was officially diagnosed with lyme disease God gave me a vision. He showed me our friends and family standing in a circle around us holding hands. Some where facing us encouraging us, singing Praise to the Lord with us, praying for us and with us. While others were faced away from us protecting us from the outside world. Raising arms of protection to ward off discouragement and to reassure us of the path we are to take. We continue to see this and feel this protection. Every crazy step reassured through those around us. It feels crazy even to us and yet I keep hearing keep walking, one step at a time, keep walking.
So…we continue walking. My story matters, your story matters. Our story has joyful, peaceful moments and it has angry, swearing fits mixed in. As we fight to understand what the hell God is going in our lives. My story is this “I may not know the reason God has brought me here, but just because he loves me the way that he does, I’m going to walk through fire if he wants me to”. I am also going to continue praising the name of the Lord. When the story gets dark and I come to a fork in the road and I am asked will I choose darkness or Christ. The answers will always be Christ. My story begins and ends with blessed be the name of the Lord.