My husband is currently working through a sermon series about God making us in His image. This week, even as I type, He is preparing this week’s focus: God created us to create. We were designed with talents, giftings, and passions that make us unique and reflect the Divine nature birthed into our physical bodies and unleashed through the installment of the Spirit. I have been given the privilege of helping Jordan prepare his sermons. I tend think like spaghetti. My brain goes a thousand different directions, but they do (most of the time) lead to a complete thought. His brain is like waffles. He is very structured. We are discovering that spaghetti sometimes tastes pretty yummy with waffles. We make a good team as long as we aren’t getting too tangled up in knots or overly compartmentalized! And sometimes we have to step away and take a few deep breaths. This is, however, a fun new facet of our relationship.
So lets talk about this whole idea of being created to create. This resonates with me, since I really enjoy writing, and some would classify writing as a form of art. In writing, I find a deeper fellowship with God than I might feel in other situations. Sometimes I write as a response to a glimpse of God’s face. Other times, I write in order to catch a glimpse of His face through the act of writing. I write to share my God-sightings, and I write to catch some God-sightings. I write because I feel my soul gravitate toward the pen and paper, or the keyboard. I feel at home in this crazy, albeit limited world of words. Writing is one of my creative callings. I would love to engage it more frequently. Maybe as I feel better and develop more discipline (or sacred time alone), I can flex my writing muscles more often. For now, this is where I am.
God created us with gifts, passions, talents, and burdens. Each of us has a unique set, and each of us has dominion in how we choose to use them. Some of us start from a more mobilized position than others. Some have to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to pursue their passions. Some lay down and allow themselves to be beaten and crippled by the lies that they have nothing to offer. I started to read Freefall to Fly by Rebecca Lyons on the plane ride home from Nashville last week. I nearly threw the book against the seat back in front of me when I read of Rebecca’s experience of her childhood, her unfettered pursuit of her dreams, her insatiable hunger for books, and her belief that the sky was the limit. She went on to talk about pursuing her dreams throughout college and beyond, only to find herself crippled in motherhood, questioning if her dreams had to die because of her new role as mother. She is certainly on to something. She has a lot of research to back up the reality that this often happens to women. Her intended audience finds comfort in the resonance that comes from this sentiment, I am confident. I will also continue to read the book. My anger is not at that sweet, Godly woman who is a talented author. My anger emerged out of a deeply wounded and broken childhood.
While Rebecca traversed down memory lane, I tentatively crept down my own memory lane into a land of monsters, terror, and lies. I was not told that I was talented. I was told that I was evil. I was not told to pursue my dreams. I was told that I had nothing to offer. I was not told that I could contribute to society, let alone pursue a God-given passion. I was told that the world would be better off without me. I remember in grade school, I tested into advanced classes. My caregivers held me in regular classes, and I often complained of being bored, asking to be moved to the advanced classes. They lied to me and told me that I was not smart enough, and it would be too hard for me. We took IQ tests during grade school as well, and my mother kept my scores from me, saying that she didn’t want me to feel bad about my low scores. I steered clear of IQ tests as much as I could, until as an adult I was challenged to take an IQ test, which yielded results that were clearly above average. At this point, I can’t go into the question of why a parent would go out of her way to convince her daughter that she was unintelligent, untalented and worthless. I can, however, recognize that my childhood was not necessarily typical, or worse yet, maybe it was more typical than we would like to realize.
For a solid two decades, I took it upon myself to do the most noble thing that I could conceive at the time in my brainwashed mind: To make myself smaller, invisible, less of a problem. Not only did I have nothing to give, but I was a taker. A relentless taker. Thus, I had to be eliminated. This mindset is quite the opposite of the content of our Sunday sermon. So I have wrestled. I wrestled with the book and with Rebecca. I wrestled with the scriptures about being God’s workmanship, created to do good works in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10), about being fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), about having spiritual gifts, about having talents, about being valuable. Sadly, I wasted quite a bit of time trying to destroy myself while I could have been developing my gifts.
Unlike Rebecca, my experience as a mother has birthed within me the idea that I may have some passions and gifts that could be meaningful to the body of Christ and beneficial to the world in general. My marriage to a husband who loves me has brought me to a place where I was forced to face that I was actually someone’s SIGNIFICANT other. Someone wants me. This was only the beginning. Until one find’s her identity in her Savior, it is on unstable ground. God used these situations, however, to provide a platform from which I could emerge from my imploded existence. I could carefully, tentatively, take a few steps out to see what happened. I could pen a couple pages and share it with a close friend. I could sing in our church in front of people and actually look them in the eye after the close of service. I could consider the possibility that I don’t have to apologize for my existence. Not only that, but I could, for a second, fathom that I could one day live boldly within my dreams and hopes.
I’m not entirely new to dreaming, but dreaming with the hope that it could be reality is a new concept. As a child, I lived in my day dream. It kept me alive. I felt, deep down, however, that there was no hope that it could ever become reality. My value existed in my day dreams, and those were where Christ met me. Mercifully, through my following decades of self-destruction, He sustained me, continued to breathe life into my spirit and giftings. He strategically placed people along my path to encourage me to pursue my passions and talents. He provided pockets of self-discovery. He has been faithful all along. He knows the depths of brokenness and slavery that I have trudged through to make it to the other side.
Slowly, beautifully, I am beginning to see that I am valuable. One of God’s greatest mercies in my life is that He has given me a daughter who is undeniably my mini-me in personality and sass. And I love her. I don’t think that I could love her more. I love every single ounce of her entire package. One day, as I was wrestling with my identity, God pointed out how similar my three-year-old is to me. He told me that He loves me even more than I love her, and He loves every part of my unique personality just like I love hers. I realized that it is really incongruent to love my daughter, my likeness, and to hate myself. She is dynamite. She is brilliant. She is hilarious, deeply compassionate, intuitive and thoughtful. She is made in God’s image. So maybe I am also made in God’s image. Made for good works that God has uniquely equipped me to perform.