The first semester of college, my freshmen composition professor told me I was a bad writer. What a confidence boost for someone who was already terrified about being successful in college! That statement stuck with me for a long time. I lost any confidence I might have had in my writing skills. In his defense, I think his next statement was that he would help me fix it and he actually did teach me a lot over the next two semesters. I’m pretty sure I even made A’s in his classes, but the damage was done.
I went on to choose a major that was 90% writing, public relations. Smart move, right? My PR professor told me the first day of class that if I didn’t like writing I needed to change my major, but I had just transferred schools and uprooted my entire life to pursue that major so I was going to stick with it no matter what. Every assignment I turned in was torture waiting on her to tear my writing to shreds, though that rarely happened. I was very successful in all my PR classes and got great feedback from my professor, but I never regained a solid confidence in my writing skills. At least not enough to ever share my personal writings with anyone.
The irony is, I have always tried to keep a journal and write about my life. I love writing. It’s been my therapy over the years. I don’t do a good job of actually following through and keeping up with a journal on a regular basis, but I have a lot of them. Most of them are only half written in, but they are there. They are snapshots into the things that were happening in my life at that time.
I have been looking through those old journals for inspiration for this blog post. I’ve had this idea floating around my head for about a week now. It started with wanting to talk about the resolutions I made for 2016, specifically rebuilding my relationship with God. As I was looking through entries from earlier this year though, my inspiration leaned more toward the conviction God laid on my heart to write my story. I reread journal entry after entry where I begged God to show me the way and guide me. I pleaded with Him to reveal His plans for my life. When He finally did, I fought back and ignored the call.
On April 8th, 2016, I wrote, “I think God might have placed something in my mind this morning. Something tells me I need to write my story and share it with others. I feel like there is an important story there. One that could possibly help others in whatever they are going through.” How much clearer could God have been? He not only gave me the conviction but He even gave me the exact topic to write about. What more could I need? Courage. That was what I was lacking at the time. I was afraid for so many reasons. I didn’t want to ruffle feathers. I didn’t want my truth to hurt anyone else’s feelings. I wasn’t comfortable with sharing the thoughts and feelings I had never told anyone about. Then there was that lack of confidence in myself as a writer and the fear that others might think I’m as bad as that freshman professor did. I ended that journal entry with, “maybe someday, but not today.”
The push to write didn’t end there though. On April 14, 2016, I wrote, “I feel like writing my story is still something God has put on my heart. It only gets stronger too. I honestly don’t know how to start or when I will have time to sit and write it in a coherent way. I pray God continues to convict me and help me find time for it all.” To be honest, I have never heard God speak so clearly to me than when He told me to write. I have also never flat-out refused Him like that before. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to be exposed like that. Especially since my journey back to faith and rebuilding my relationship with God was so new. I didn’t think I was ready. Even though He knew I was.
I ignored the call of that still small voice for most of the year. I continued to pray that He would show me my path, give me answers, and help me to share His love with others. I didn’t realize He had already given me an answer and was simply waiting for me to act on it.
I fought this calling until October. On the 22nd an overwhelming urge lead me to sit down and type my story out. I have written it many different times in journals over the years, but I have never actually typed it before. I had about 30 minutes before I had to be somewhere, but the words just flowed out in a way I had never written or thought about them before. If felt so right to type those exact words into that Google Doc. I poured my heart out in those 30 minutes and cried over the new understanding of this story I had thought about so many times before. Then I turned off my computer and went to whatever engagement I was expected at as if nothing had happened. I left that document sitting in my Google Drive and didn’t think much of it again for a month.
I dread the month of November. I have for the past 16 years. I never know what kind of mood I will be in as November 23rd approaches each year. Some years, I almost forget it’s the day my dad died and just go on with life as usual. Other years, I fall into deep despair and let myself wallow in pity allowing my mind to explore all the what if questions. This year was a good year, more or less. I wasn’t dreading the day much as I had in the past, but I was struggling with what I would post on social media about the day. Am I the only one who does that? I over think posts sometimes, especially ones that reveal things about my personal life. I didn’t want to post another vaguely sad message about another year of missing my dad. That is when I remembered the document I typed up the month before and allowed myself to once again hear the call to share it with others.
On November 22nd, I reopened that document, made a few edits, and took a huge step by sharing it with a friend. It sounds simple but that small act of letting her read it took most of the courage I had that day. Even though this is the friend I share everything with and trust with my life, I had never shared those busted mustard seed feelings with anyone before. I emailed it to her and waited with baited breath for her response. Her positive feedback and encouragement, along with a lot of prayer, helped me take the next step of setting up a blog site.
How could I have known the words I quickly typed up a month before were exactly what I wanted to share on the 16th anniversary of my dad’s death? I knew this year I had to post something more and God gave me the words. After 16 years of struggling with faith and God, it was time to let the world know. It was time to follow God’s guidance and direction. It was time for His will to be done. I nearly had a panic attack when I published that first post. I even considered taking it down, but I left it and gave it to God. I prayed that He would take the post and do with it what He wanted. That is my prayer for each post that has followed.
While searching my journal for the dates I felt the call to write my story, I came across an entry about overcoming fears. I was journaling about a devotional that had asked me to list fears I had overcome in the last 5 years. I wrote that I was completely stumped. I didn’t have an answer. In working on this post, I see I did overcome some fears this year. I was afraid of sharing my true thoughts and feelings with others, but they were embraced and even shared. I was afraid of admitting I had lost my faith in God, but people thanked me for my honesty and saying what they too were feeling inside. I was afraid of ridicule and judgement of my still fragile journey back to God, but there was only love. I was afraid to share my personal writing with others, but there was only praise and encouragement.
I also had a fear of admitting that I want to pursue a new life that is God centered where I let go of the things I have used to put Him off in the past. I realize though that I am tired of quietly seeking a relationship with Him in fear that speaking His love would somehow put me in an unwanted category. I spent a long time judging other Christians who weren’t perfect in their pursuit of God that I didn’t want to open myself up to that judgement from others. Today though, I am proud to say that I am no longer a slave to those fears. I am a proud child of God.
I want to live that statement going forward. I want to be a shining example of God’s love for others around me. I want people to know that no matter who they are or what they have done, there is a God who loves them unconditionally. I want His love to show in my life and through this blog. That is my prayer for this new year. I pray God takes this blog and has me use it for His glory. It’s all for Him.
Happy New Year and God Bless!