Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On the Vision

I have spent most of my adult life having a love affair with words.

In the middle of my junior year of high school a creative writing class was offered as an elective and I remember thinking, "okay, I'll give this a go." and there was really no looking back after that. I wanted all the prompts. I wanted to litter every single journal page in every single journal I owned with formulated words and sentences laced together with passion and heat. Up until that point the only writing I had done was to honor hearts that had ceased their beating much too soon for my liking. And it was therapeutic. It was therapeutic in a way I'd never experienced before. Prior to the writing you could have found me sitting firmly at the top of the stairs leading to my bedroom, the landline cradled between my jawbone and shoulder, coiled phone chord stretched to its capacity, crying or laughing to the girlfriend I had chosen as my therapist for that week.

But with this creative writing class it was as if I had found the proverbial buried treasure I never knew I was really looking for in the first place. With my brightly colored pens and the same three lines of a song, I could create an entire world of my own. I could be the girl that looked just right and had it all, and always got what she wanted. I held power when I had the pen in my hand. I read and wrote about anything and everything I could get my hands on, whatever popped into my head. So, after realizing that writing came increasingly easier to me than math or science or anything, really, it seemed like a natural step to declare Creative Writing as my major in college.

I spent entire quarters falling in love with crafting fiction and characters and work-shopping pieces that had come to be like delicate, tiny newborns to me. All the while, I was proud to claim that I would be a writer one day. I will be a writer. I was wholly convinced I could, and would, do it.

And then I graduated. And I got a job that had nothing to do with my degree. And I ended up really loving that job. And my heart - that had beat and pulsed most vividly when I was writing, started to shut down over the idea that I would, one day, be a writer and make a dent in the world with my words. And I was mostly okay with it. I was a grown up. Grown ups don't spend time wishing over these things when they have bills to pay. I would be remembered some other way. I'd figure it out somehow.

Because, in transparency, THAT is what I was concerned about. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be heard. The desire to be remembered sat at the core of my chest and was reiterated in everything I did. I wanted to be seen. Period. And so I did just about anything I needed to in order to feel seen and heard. I was reckless and senseless and dangerous. It wasn't attractive or endearing. I look back on those days and my throat threatens to constrict with gasped thanks that I am here to even look back on it in the first place.

And then I got on a plane and flew to India. And everything changed. Jesus stepped into the cyclone of my existence and single handedly calmed the storm. Because that's what He does, guys. He knows the storm will come, how long it will last, and the damage that will result from it. And then He commands it to stop.

He silenced the winds that were roaring and lying and wreaking havoc and He used a 13 year old boy to crumble down the walls I'd managed to build in the midst of the storm.

And my life never looked the same.

I have spent most of my adult life having a love affair with words. And then I closed the door on ever getting to write them full time. And then the unthinkable happened.

I got a job as a writer.

I could try to put words to this, but I'm going to let someone much more brilliant and seasoned do the work for me:

I feel, in the best moments, in spite of the uncertainty, in spite of the fear, like Lily Brisco in To the Lighthouse. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.  . . . I have had my vision, and I thought it would come in a flash, a bright beam of knowing. But it has come in the same way that all things come to me. It has come to me with a fight. It has come to me the hard way, through tears and fog and fear and chaos, and now has landed in the palm of my hand like a firefly. There now, I have had my vision. --Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

I have had my vision. And I am seeing it literally come to life before me. I was given my first assignment for the ministry I am going to be working for and I cried when I read it; the 13 year old boy that God worked through to flip my entire life upside down? Well, I am being asked to write a story about him.

I received the necessary backstory on his life before I met him for this assignment. I will confess here that I am terrified by this piece. I am simultaneously humbled and absolutely wrecked that this is my first assignment for my new job. That sweet boy, his story has known darkness. And I found myself wholly distracted today in Dayton . . . I found myself desperately wanting to be with him. To hug him. I find myself wanting to whisper flurried, hushed proclamations of love in his ear -- Jesus loves you. So do I. Over and over again.

I feel like, up until India, I spent all of my time wanting to be known and seen. And, as I mentioned before, that led me to put myself in horrible situations . . . because it didn't matter if they loved me or not - if they were taking time, I was seen.

And now, post India, all I want to do is spend my time making sure HE feels known and seen.

Perhaps that is what having had one's vision is about. You see, for yourself, something that you've spent an expansive amount of time wishing for and hoping for and when it comes to fruition, it's nothing like what you expected it to be. Mostly because you simply aren't who you started out as. I have come to not be wholly occupied by being seen. Generally, I yearn to simply see him, this little boy who changed the wiring of my heart.

I've spent most of my adult life having a love affair with words. And being seen. And being known. And it wasn't until I left the familiar, said yes to the unknown, that I came to find that I am wholly seen, fully known, and that my dreams - my vision - they are placed delicately by Him, nurtured by Him, and brought into the light by Him.

If your dreams, your hopes, your vision are from Him, He delights to bring them to life. He delights in being the One who fully knows and sees us.

And that's what I'm learning my having had my vision -- I need not perform extravagantly or behave foolishly to be seen. He simply asks me to say yes.

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