I'm ready. Are you?
Everyone has a story.
God created us to share our story because every woman deep down desires to tell it to someone.
We are made in God's image and we are part of His Story.
His Story is a collection of ordinary women who were rebellious, strong, weak, sick and faithful.
Their stories are important. They're all different. Even though they were only on this earth a few years, they're all a huge roll in God's big Story.
For most of my life, sharing my story has been difficult for me. I love to hear and read other people's stories. I actually have a job creating books for others about their stories. But, when I'm asked to tell mine, that's a different story. But the past couple of years I've been working at starting to tear down that wall..
Let's go back 21 years. I made the decision to follow Christ when I was a student at Elon College. I've tried to be a "good girl" ever since then. Soon after getting married and making residency in good 'ole Burlington, my husband, Scott and I started attending SMC. That was 16 years ago. Ever since then I've gone to church almost every weekend, attended Bible studies, visit shut-ins, and volunteered in the nursery. I've tried to be a good girl.
I read a book a couple of years ago by Emily Freeman Grace for the Good Girl . I so related to the words she wrote that says, "My desire to be good kept me from exploring my own opinions...I avoided vulnerability for fear of being rejected...or being labeled needy. Good girls aren't needy, they are needed. And so instead of living free, I lived safe."
Yes. That's how I've always wanted to live.
Safe. Comfortable. Free from risk.
I've worked hard at making that happen.
I feel, until recently, that I did a pretty good job at it...living in my own comfort zone where even though I've had some challenges like all others, I've still been doing what I want to do while trying to make sure others like me.
So, what does 'until recently' mean?
I believe God will use every moment in your life to prepare you for the next step. Personally though, I'm stubborn. I'll dig my feet in the ground and not budge. I'll cling tight to whatever is stable and hold on to my comfortable life staying as far away from change as possible.
But then somehow, all of that began to unravel. It started back in 2011 when I read the book a friend gave me: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
While reading that book, each sentence tore away part of the protective packaging that I had tightly wrapped around my soul for years. It was all about giving thanks to God for everything and He spoke to me through this book like no other had. By the end of it, I felt like my heart was exposed even though the thought of it was not necessarily comfortable anymore. I was a little uncertain what that feeling meant, yet strangely to me, I was ready to do something.
I just had to figure out what that something was.
I just kept living day by day - being a mom, wife, friend, grocery shopper, volunteer at school and the retirement community, have a direct sale business, attend Bible studies, drive kids to sports and dance and somehow figure out in the midst of it what it was God wanted me to do.
But there was one thing different in my life. At the beginning of 2012, I challenged myself to record 1000 things to thank God for (as the book was about). So, I bought a new journal book and started writing what I was thankful for. #1 the spiral notebook in my purse to jot down joys that come to my mind when I'm out and about. #2 My new Joy Dare journal #3 a bird feeder filled with the sound of chirps on a gray and drizzly day.
I was happy with my journal and this new discipline.
However, by day six to my TOTAL surprise, I had started a blog. My savvy husband recommend I keep my count of joys through a blog. When he told me that, I just laughed. "Really? I don't think so."
But with his encouragement, I said, "Well, I guess, but it's just for me to record my counts." I had probably only seen one or two in my life. I barely knew what a blog was then.
So, I started posting my joys every day and my life began to have a whole new meaning.
The list kept growing of the things I became thankful for about, good and not-so-good things. And as I wrote...or typed.., my fingers wanted to keep moving.
So I let them.
And it became a discovery of a hidden joy. I had been a private journaller every so often, but the more I wrote about thanks-giving back to God- the more I heard God speak to me.
Maybe it was because my heart was now exposed and I was actually being a little...a tiny bit...vulnerable? And that was a big step out of my comfort zone.
And it still is. I don't want my blog to be self-focus stories. I simply want them to be part of God's Story.
[box]"Lay aside every encumbrance...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)[/box]
This past fall I read the book Anything by Jennie Allen that another friend recommended I read. How can I describe it?
A slap in the face? A punch in the gut? Squeezing my exposed soul tightly.
Either way, God had gotten me to the point where He asked me, "Will you completely trust Me and do anything for Me? Will you take a risk?"
Jennie wrote: "To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that...I don't want to get to heaven and see what I could have been a part of but missed because I was numb or selfish or scared."
Am I the only one who's been that way? Too numb, selfish or scared when it comes to risking and stepping out in faith to give thanks and glory to our HUGE God who has done ENORMOUS things for you?
Well, I'm ready. Finally.
I'm ready to risk being real. We are most real when we unmask our honest to goodness selves, when we're full of joy, scared, overwhelmed, excited, hiding, selfish and stubborn. YET, we can be redeemed in the midst of all of those parts of our stories.
We learn from our own story and we can learn from other women's stories.
So what's one risk I've decided to take?
To be a part of the SMC Women's Blog.
And I'm not the only one to be part of it. YOU are also to be part of it.
Take part in the fellowship, prayers, laughter and stories that tug at the heart. Take part in listening to other women's stories; consider sharing yours.
Because our stories are part of God's Story. And because of that, our stories matter.
Your story matters.
I dare you to share it.
I'm ready. Are you?
"We have all been given roles in a story that is about something so much bigger..." Jennie Allen Restless