I didn’t want to post this. There is nothing scandalous here, no deep, dark secrets, but being vulnerable in a public space is just rough, sometimes. Often I’ll learn things about myself and it turns into a post and I just kind of pray, “God? Couldn’t you teach me about some kind of world issue or…. I don’t know, something else that isn’t so personal!? Couldn’t this be a bit less like a journal?” But no, this is what it is.
As a little update, I’ve been keeping up my weekly pilgrimages to the mall to pray. I keep the fact that I do this pretty quiet in “real life,” because I love having this space in my week totally carved out and secret. I’ve had so many interesting encounters and experiences on these outings, and it is a rhythm that has enhanced my life, and my relationship with God, so much since first semester. it is amazing how simply taking the time to show up and pray expectantly, or just sitting in silence, has opened my eyes and my heart. It has been a way to intentionally refocus, and it has been so, so worth it.
I’ve changed so much over these past two semesters of school. One of the prayers I pray most often is: “God, what needs to change in me now?” I find that those prayers are always answered in the most interesting and startling ways.
That essay I wrote about? The issue was less about the content and topic of the essay, and more about what it sparked in me. I’m finished it now, but I’ve been thinking hard about all of this, grappling with this passion I have for writing and where I want to take it from here. I say I’m grappling with it because, really, it has been a point of contention with myself for as long as I can remember.
Writing is what makes me fundamentally myself. Words on the page expose my most truthful self, something that can’t be expressed in any other way. On the other hand, I’ve always wished that I had a different gift. I’ve tried to store this one away, hide it, downplay it, pretend that it isn’t mine. I’ve been frustrated that writing isn’t a necessarily “performable” talent (like dancing or singing), I’ve kicked back against the honesty that writing forces me up against every time.
When I think of who I am, the first two words I would use to describe myself would be “writer” and “introvert,” both parts of myself that I’ve wanted to change countless times as I’ve grown up. I’ve always had this strange wish to be a logical, extraverted person and not this quiet, creative personality that I’ve been given. I remember, as a very young girl, retreating to my closet to write among stacks and stacks of papers; half finished ideas, stories, letters. I hid it all. Even now, I equate writing with hiding to some extent.
Hiding. Flying under the radar. I’ve been a bit of a wallflower all my life because it is the most comfortable place for me to be. I prefer to stand away from the spotlight. My idea of a good time mostly consists of activities that can be done alone. That is my niche. However, as a Christian, being alone all the time isn’t what I’ve been called to do. I’ve also been given this intense love for people, and I’ve been learning to balance my natural tendency to retreat and this calling to love people.
So- writing. It is uncomfortable. It is gritty. It is also one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. Just as I haven’t been called to hide away, I have also not been called to stifle my gifts or hoard them selfishly. That is why I share my writing. It is not something that I want to do, exactly. I’m not here to impress anyone or imply that I have all the answers. This is what I have been given, though, and every time I have used this gift, I’ve been blessed in countless ways. I’m reminded of the parable of the talents in the Bible, the one where the servant buries the treasure his master gives him rather than putting it to use. That is not who I want to be.
This year, praying about what needs to change, I’ve grown into myself more than ever. I’ve begun to embrace this creativity, my writing, my opinions. I’m trying to hide less and settle more into what I’ve been given.
This is where I stand now, at the edge, batting questions back and forth and peering through keyholes in search of answers. I’m constantly being pushed into uncomfortable corners of honesty and truthfulness, and I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m learning balance and autonomy and wisdom. I’m learning to accept the gifts I’ve been given and use them well. I’m learning that change is an ongoing process and that when I ask, I will receive. When I press in and really seek, I will find. I might not find what I thought I wanted, but that is the beauty of it all. There are so many unexpected gifts in so many unexpected places.