Thursday, March 26, 2009

She Speaks - The Beginning of Becoming


Prologue:


Last fall, my friend Julie asked me if I would consider attending the next She Speaks Conference to be held July 31 – Aug 2, 2009. The She Speaks conference is an annual event for Christian speakers, writers, ministry leaders, and bloggers; and is sponsored by Proverbs 31 Ministries, headed by Lysa Terkuerst.


I told Julie that I would love the opportunity to attend and would begin praying for a way to make it. I also explained that with our finances severely limited, my chances for attending would be slim.


Recently, I learned that Proverbs 31 Ministries is holding a writing contest in which the winner would receive a conference scholarship. Immediately, I wanted to enter. So, I prayed. Then, I talked to my husband. Prayed again...and asked others to pray for me. Finally, I sat down to write. The process was tough. As I wrote, I also fought fear and those pesky “what ifs.” I kept telling myself that the competition was fierce (it is), and that if I did win, there would be a chance that those who chose me would end up regretting the decision--I've always feared that I come across better on paper and monitor than I do in person. I took a few deep breaths, shushed away those negative thoughts, and kept on writing.


I do not know if God intends for me to win the scholarship or if this is even my year to attend, but I do know that He wanted me to complete the process. My entry is below.


The Beginning of Becoming


Recently, I watched a science fiction television series in which a major character grappled with her identity--literally. She and others questioned whether she was truly human. At one point, out of sheer frustration, fear, and confusion, she tearfully screamed, “What Am I?” My eyes moistened and my heart thumped as I witnessed the character's inner turmoil. As outlandish as it may seem, I understood.


Twenty-months ago, a broken, abashed, and frightened version of me tugged at my disheveled hair and faced my reflection. I barely recognized myself in my bedroom mirror. The physical attributes remained the same as in years past, but my eyes...they appeared hollow. Loosening the grip on my hair, I allowed my hands to slowly slide down my face and rest just below my chin. I stood quiet and looked at myself. Although my legs and heart trembled, I felt as though I were frozen. With tears meeting my fingertips, I silently, agonizingly, cried out, “God help me. What am I? What have I become? Am I a mother or a monster?”


While many of the events surrounding my nervous breakdown are now blurred and distant, I remember the dark moments like that one. Moments when the failure sweeping through my soul left me feeling vacant. I questioned my humanity. In the throes of Postpartum Mood Disorders, on top of adjusting to a cross-country move, I was too weak and disillusioned to battle the lies that had assaulted me for decades and had come at me again with Herculean force. Perfectionism, along with feelings of worthlessness, inferiority, and displaced anger pummeled me; I waved the white flag of defeat.


Therapy sessions with a Christian counselor were one aspect that led to my recovery. As I spilled my thoughts...the dark, the garbled, and the hopeful, my counselor helped me learn how to replace lies with truth. I had already known Jesus for decades, but I didn't truly believe Him. I believed in Him. And I believed what He said about other people, but somehow I thought I was an exception...that Christ loved me, but a little less than He did others.


When I emerged from that dank trench of dejection and desperation, I felt like a hibernating mammal that had awoken during a glorious spring morning. It was my clean slate, so to speak–my midlife do-over. I had escaped perfectionism's prison and embraced the opportunity to become who Christ intended me to be. And, I am still becoming.


For me, part of becoming is sharing with others where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going on this journey to be more like Jesus. Writing has always been part of who I am, but, after I became a mom, I buried that piece of me. After my breakdown, I felt the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart and telling me that it was time again for me to write, even if I didn't have a large audience. Even if I wasn’t paid. I just needed to write.


More than a year later, the impetus of my writing has not changed. I write openly and sincerely about every experience that God calls me to share, even the ones that showcase my flaws. Actually, mostly about the ones that showcase my flaws; because, it is in those moments when God's strength magnifies. I write to help others know that they are not alone...not in this world, and not in the mistakes they make, or in the circumstances that crash upon them without warning. I write because truth is too beautiful to not share. And, I write because it is through the writing process that I experience some of my most precious moments with my Savior.


Attending the She Speaks Conference would be an opportunity for growth. I would obtain information to help me to hone my craft. And, I would be learning from women who are not only at the top of their game, but who go to their knees and humble themselves before the King of Kings; because, He is what they most desire. I don't merely want to learn to write better, I could take classes anywhere if that were my only goal. I want to learn how to use my gifts and talents to better serve my Creator.


Twenty-months ago, I questioned my identity and who I was. Now, I know. I am not a monster. I am a flawed but forgiven child of God. I am a writer who sits in front of a computer screen and types words not only about Jesus, but also for Jesus, and because of Jesus. I want to allow Him to stretch me even when it hurts. My desire is not to become a Christian writer...it is to become a woman of unshakable faith who writes, not for her own fame, but to bring glory to the King Eternal.







35 comments:

Denise said...

Awesomely beautiful my friend, praying you win.

Muthering Heights said...

Beautiful post! Best wishes with the contest!

karin said...

That really touched my heart! Thanks for sharing your story and I do hope you win!

Paula said...

Really well done. Best wishes in the contest. You're a wonderful writer.

Lora said...

Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story.

lisasmith said...

You share my story, my friend. Your call, your doubts, your reason...they are mine as well.

Hoping to meet you there,
lisa

Celly B said...

What a beautiful post! I can so identify with your struggle. I also dealt with depression after the birth of my daughter and found a new identity in Christ through Christian counseling. Your words that you believed in Christ but believed that he loved you a little less than others so closely mirrors my own beliefs at that time. You expressed your that so well!
Hoping to meet you at She Speaks!

Liz said...

This is absolutely beautiful. I hope you win the scholarship to go!

Proverbs 27:19 said...

"I write because truth is too beautiful to not share."

Angela, that statement is awesome. This is why I enjoy reading what you have to say. You have inspired me very much.

Take heart in knowing that you are accomplishing, with your honest writing, what you set out to do.

I love you!

smooches,
Larie

Proverbs 27:19 said...

Oh yeah, great pick for blog of the week!

This is another encouraging thing that you are doing.

smooches,
Larie

Susan D said...

Thank you for the courageously honest post. Hope you win and are able to share your story of encouragement to others. Blessings, SusanD

everydayMOM said...

Great job!

I WAS going to enter the contest until I read your post and now I realize I have no chance of winning. =] just kidding... I'm still going to enter, but I do think you have a really good chance of winning! nice job!

Susan said...

A fabulous post! I'm praying that you DO get to attend by whatever means He chooses for you. Thank you for being so candid. Women everywhere need it...as I think we are professional "stuffers" and "wall builders". We won't start tearing them down until people start coming clean and being real with one another.

Hugs,

Susan

Lois Lane II said...

I seriously got goosebumps. That. Was. Amazing. So honest, so real. Bravo! You deserve to win.

Too Many Hats said...

Your writing always touches me - your honesty, humility, and devotion to Jesus shine through.

Angie said...

Oh dear sister. HOW awesome. YES, we are flawed---but forgiven.

YOUR post and entry spoke volumes to my heart...for I once had the broken place--a place I thought would never heal.

Since then, God has covered it with fresh flesh-of the spiritual kind. He's my healer. Of all my hurts and pain.

I HOPE and PRAY you win! If you do win--or your way is otherwise provided---take Luanne Prater's class. I sat through the healing words of her class on prayer and wept. TAKE KLEENEX! You will weep in praise and in the joys of meeting fellow bloggers! I went last year! AND loved it!

Let me know if I can answer any questions....I also met with 2 editors :) NERVOUS---but good experience !

Andrea said...

GOD BLESS you and prayers for HIS divine touch in the contest....

Chatty Kelly said...

Beautiful words today! Because I am newer around here, I didn't know the beginning of your story. Thank you for sharing it. May God continue to hold you in his hand, and show you that you are indeed his beautiful child.

Irritable Mother said...

I can't think of anything else to say except, I love you.
Keep writing and living and becoming for HIS glory.

Kimberly said...

I am SOOOOOO glad that you are entering...that you are obeying God no matter what the outcome may be. (And indeed, tell those discouraging voices to pipe down! I have certainly had to do the same thing! Okay... I am still doing the same thing.) :)

This post is beautiful! As always!
Blessings to you as you seek to follow His lead and bring Him glory!

Love,
K :)

Lisa writes... said...

Beautiful. I love your humility and your honesty.

Amanda said...

This is really wonderful Angela. I can easily see the transparency of your words... how raw and vulnerable you were... or had to become. I think this can speak to so many...

Well done. Truly well done.

God bless-
Amanda

dancinginthemargins said...

Praying you will win. This is BEAUTIFUL.

Karen said...

Nice job on your entry, Angela. I have no doubt that the Lord is very pleased. I have no doubt that your writing is healing and comforting for many people. Best wishes on winning the contest. Blessings, Karen

DeeDee said...

I went last year and hope to go back again this year. It was wonderful!
Maybe we both can be there :)

Billy Coffey said...

This was a beautifully written post, made so by the honesty and openness you so freely give. Many people would hold their dark days close to themselves for fear of discovery. But I think you've found a great secret: sharing what you were reveals what God is helping you become.

I love your blog!

RefreshMom said...

Beautifully written. Whether it's this conference or some other means, I'm confident that God will keep leading and equipping you to reach people with the message He's placed in your heart.

Would love to see you at She Speaks. Praying we can both get there one way or another!

Joyfulsister said...

Hi Sis,
You are truly an amazing writer and you have such a testimony to all women who have gone through the same journey, as well as those who are still in that place. I pray over this story and God's will for you to be at that conference!!!

Hugz Lorie

angeljoy said...

I suffered from post-partum depression. Those were some dark days indeed.
so great to see the journey the Lord has led you through.
Keep us posted. :)

Vixbil said...

Oh wow

Stepping Stones of Promise said...

I came here from 5 minutes for Faith. This story touched my heart. I have goose bumps all over from reading your words....

I struggle with some of the same things you have and have discovered some of the same things you have.

Thank you for sharing you. I am praying for you to attend the conference too...

graceunbound said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I hope very much that one way or another you get to that conference.

Nadine said...

Great essay. You would have my vote to win.

Jess said...

Oh, this is so wonderful. I entered, too - and I haven't read many of the other posts...But I've read your blog before and knew you would have something breathtaking to say.

Lovely, uplifting, and honest.

Love,
jess

Lindsey @ A New Life said...

What a beautiful story! I can totally relate to staring in the mirror, not recognizing who I had become.

Praying for your dream to attend the conference and wishing you luck in the contest!

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