When You're Not Sure what You Have to Offer: an (in)RL Story

I've spent the past few months wondering what it is I have to offer. There have been many days spent ugly crying, days spent pretending and vainly attempting to make myself appear more attractive, and days just spent in silence. I've wrestled with my story, struggling to find the words to say to you and to myself. Almost a month ago, the twentysomethings gathered in our pastor's house and were issued a challenge to come up with a mission statement for our lives. I was already struggling with feeling unqualified, especially among a group of worship leaders, children's ministry leaders, the color-coded spreadsheet maker. It seemed like everyone else's stories were so fluid and inevitably better than my own. I wondered in those moments why I argued with my husband about going to this gathering in the first place, and now, I'm expected to map out the trajectory of my life in a paragraph? I shrunk into my chair, my heart sinking back into the hole it had dared to crawl out of.

I wonder if my story has a place. Sometimes, I wonder if it even has a plot. And I want it to be wrapped up in a curled bow if and when I do offer it to you.

But really, would a story neatly wrapped up with a perfectly curled bow do anyone any good? {Click to Tweet}

Perhaps it all came to a gruesome head over Easter weekend. Saturday morning was spent with a foster child who revealed secret abuse, and then in the afternoon, a family member's words cut deep. How much of the world have you really seen, she asked, and I think sometimes maybe the devil can squeeze himself in between the syllables. And in the midst of it all, I sent out a plea for prayer. People rallied from all over the internet, most without even known what to pray for.

Then, at the end of April, I stayed up late on a Friday to watch the stories of beautiful women unfold on a screen. The entire  hour and a half was spent in a cadence of tears and laughter, sensing the presence of the Lord as I hear the hearts of so many beautiful women over at (in)courage. The next day, I drove an hour and a half down the road to Dawn's house and met with a few of those women. I wondered, would my struggle to be accepted and to belong be the elephant in the room? Would it be painfully obvious that I was trying to overcompensate for what I thought I was lacking? This meet up was all about being real about our stories, and for months, I haven't known how to write the first word. Not to mention how I've struggled with the byline, wrestling God for the upper hand, for the right to control how my life's plot unfolds.

A church sign scrolls on my half hour commute from the office to the comfort of home: does your spiritual house need a spring cleaning? And sometimes it's the small things that grab hold of your attention, tears threatening to dive off your cheeks as your tires pound the pavement at sixty-five. I wonder, in all the noise -- the hiss heard in between the syllables of her retort, the whistle of the bombs falling in the war of comparing myself -- have I forgotten my passion?

I sit like this until a Tuesday morning conversation over breakfast. She was, for all intents and purposes, a stranger to me at the time. Our work occasionally brought us together with a quaint "how are you," but there was never any more than that. But we ended up talking for the better part of an hour. On the surface, our words bounced back and forth on the topic of what we could do for the foster child from weeks before. But beneath the surface? Our words were fueled by passion for the power of stories.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony. -- Revelation 12:11a

This is how we overcome, by looking back and seeing how God had redeemed our stories. By telling the devil that his head was crushed and in no manner will he be the victor over our lives {Click to Tweet}.

Recently, I've been going through an old sermon series from college, in which our campus pastor talks about God reaching into our weakest, most tender places -- the dark spaces that bring us shame and lead us to believe that we could never house glory -- and transforming them in His power. It is the crux of scripture: His strength being made perfect in our weakness. {Click to Tweet.}

Not to say that the Lord needs me. Grace says He chooses me.

Dear heart, when you are at what seems like the end of your rope -- the end of your hope -- He is calling. When you feel like there is nothing good about who you are, remember that tiny three word declaration: it is good.

There are days and weeks where it feels like my well is all but dried up. My heart, devoid of inspiration. My heart, empty. And in the middle of it all, I shrink into the oblivion of feeling unqualified.

I forget that's the kind of person God wants. 

At twenty-three years old, I can literally do just about anything I want. And what I want, more than anything else, is for my one life, my one story, to make His name great.

If you have prayed for me over the past few weeks, I can only offer my humble thanks, and ask that you would continue praying. Pray for wisdom, pray for increased sensitivity to His voice. Pray for divine appointments and confirmation. Pray that my faith would exceed my doubt, and in the midst of it all, I would know His presence.

And I will pray the same for you.