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.