*With tears running down my cheeks, I am claiming this new word, this post, and hitting publish. Forgive the rambling and the Story-telling…I never want to forget any of what God has done over the past few weeks of my life.*
There are a lot of words I would use to describe myself. Whenever you’re the new person to something, whether it’s the first day of classes or the beginning of a new bible study, it always tends to start off the same way…
“Tell us a little about yourself.”
“Will you introduce yourself?”
And at school, “Okay. Three random facts about yourself. Go.”
When I’m put on the spot, everything I’ve ever done that’s remotely interesting leaves my brain. I’m left with “Well….I’m uh, I’m from Florida and I, well I have three brothers, and..umm..I like ice cream, like a lot.”
Really. That came out of my mouth. I’m really great at first impressions, clearly.
If you asked me for three things that describe me, though, I could spout them off real quick.
Funny. Nice. Friendly.
No brainer. It’s easy – because anyone can say those three and no one is really going to contradict it. It’s surface level but not shallow, open but not deep. If a trusted friend asked how I think of myself, on some days my honest response would be:
Encourager, but complainer. Busy, but committed.
Whether they wanted good or in-process descriptive words, one word would never, ever cross my mind, much less leave my mouth.
Working for (in)courage, one of my responsibilities is to schedule posts that go up on the main page. Now, while each (in)contributor is supposed to turn in her post by a certain date, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
It doesn’t normally happen.
The posts go up in time, and the girls always come through. Always. But there are nights when Mary (who is all kinds of wonderful) and I are emailing back and forth the night before saying, “The post isn’t in! The post isn’t in! What are we gonna do???”
And it comes in. Always. And God uses the words mightily to speak to women around the world.
But in those late-night, sleep-deprived moments, there’s a little wave of panic because we just want to fix the problem (and we just want to go to bed). It’s in our nature.
About two weeks ago, there was a post that didn’t come in until Mary and I had already gone to bed. I’m one of those people that always feels better if there’s a back-up plan, so I wrote a quick post, threw a picture in it and a few verses that God placed on my heart as I was writing. I saved it as a draft for (in)courage and here on my own blog. ‘There’s no way it would really go up on (in)courage – I’ll just post it here,’ I thought.
I shot a quick message to Mary, explaining that if the post wasn’t up in the morning and my post was okay, to just hit publish until the scheduled post came in. Better my measly words than nothing, right?
I woke up the next morning and the scheduled post was up on the main page. It had come in.
In between packing for our 12 hour road trip and hosting all the giveaways, I checked my email and found a little note from Mary. Some things needed to shift on the calendar and long story short, would I mind if my post went up on the main page Friday?
In other words, would it be okay if we share your words with thousands of women around the world?
I hurriedly wrote back,
Hold up. You want ME to follow Angie Smith? What is this? Crazy world. Yes of course. :) It’s an honor, but oh my word now MY post is speaking right back at myself.
Nevermind the fact that I was leaving in just a few hours for a road trip, that I wouldn’t be posting it on my blog right away because of the giveaways, or that I wouldn’t be online Friday or Saturday because of the wedding.
It was an honor I could never dream of turning down.
My words? Really? I prayed and praised until I fell asleep.
At some point during the 12 hour drive I pulled out my phone and read Angie’s post.
And I cried.
It is oh so beautiful and heart-felt and met me right where I was.
And then the fear crept in real big and pointed out a few facts that weren’t exactly welcome in that moment.
Who do you think you are to follow the words of Angie Smith?
She’s been doing this a whole lot longer than you. People know her and her heart, her words. No one will read to the end of your post and they’ll never know the girl behind the Story.
You just put sentences out there, but Angie has a way with words. All these ladies do. They’ve written for years in this (in)courage space and you do the behind-the-scenes. That’s where you should be. Behind-the-scenes.
And all of it, every bit of it, pointed right back to the words I would share with the world in just a few short hours.
I read my own words with fresh eyes, read them as if someone else had written them. And I realized that I mean every bit of it. I believe it to be true, and I am 100% confident that God has given each of us a unique Story to tell the world.
I can follow the words of Angie Smith. Yes, she’s the first blog I ever read and yes, I’ve read every single post and shoved them in friends faces saying, “Read this. It’s so good.” People won’t know my Story because it hasn’t been shared on (in)courage before – but that doesn’t mean they won’t listen. You have to start somewhere. And there’s nothing wrong with behind-the-scenes, but sometimes He gives us a moment to shine Him.
In my mind, these women that I respect greatly have always stood up just a little higher than me on writer-pedestals. Who am I to stand among them? I don’t know a billion Bible verses and I’ve never written a book. I’m a single college girl that has way more questions than answers.
And He whispered, “It’s okay, love. Your words have value, too, and I want you to share them with my daughters.”
I went to bed completely nervous and super excited. I woke up anxious and hopeful, my fingers quickly finding the keyboard and looking for any words written back.
Anything to show that my words have value and related, hit home, or encouraged someone.
Just one person, Lord, just please touch one person though the words You’ve given.
I read the comments that had been posted in the early hours and I praised Him. Then real life hit and I got busy making flower bouquets and setting up chairs for the ceremony. Every hour my phone would show me the new emails that were coming in with comments – and I would shake my head in wonder that yet another women somewhere in this big world had read my words.
Finally, at the end of the day, I sat down and read each and every word – with tears in my eyes I wrote Lisa-Jo and thanked her for the opportunity. I prayed, crying thanks that He would allow my name to go next to His words for His girls. My eyes sting with tears just typing that sentence – what an honor.
An hour later, I was laying in bed when my phone lit up with a new email. I had hoped none of my friends or family would see the blog post – after all, it had multiple links to this blog, which none of them read (though some know about).
There, right on the screen in the form of an email, were my words – sent to every member of my (very large) family, none of whom knew about the blog.
I hadn’t counted on anyone being subscribed to the (in)courage emails. I had known someone seeing the post was a possibility, and by no means am I ashamed of or worried about anything I’ve posted here, but it’s always been my safe place.
I didn’t feel ready, but there was no going back. I had allowed myself to be found.
Immediately the questions and the tears came, what-ifs and doubts. I felt like I was falling and flying at the same time. Confused and free, scared and encouraged by all the kind words.
I texted a dear, dear friend and she was quick to listen, slow to speak, and immediately pushed me into the arms of Jesus.
Is there a better kind of friend than that?
I’ve written about her before in this space, this Jesus-loving girl, and I had recently shown her my blog, welcoming her into this part of my heart.
She spoke life into the unsure places in my heart, the parts where it feels like I’m just typing one line after another and pressing publish, with no impact or purpose.
That night, her words came rushing back to me and after lots of prayer and a few hours of sleep, I woke up with a peace that He was present, and the encouragement of my beautiful friend fresh on my mind.
I approve of you. You’re a super talented writer, Kaitlyn. I had no idea. But that’s what you should do. Write, write, write.
She didn’t know how much those words would encourage this heart. There’s no way she would have known the hope and reassurance it would bring. She was faithful to be a friend and even days after, I heard her words in my heart and got up to face whatever the day would bring.
Because this is what I will do. Write, write, write.
Still today, a little over a week since (in)courage featured my post, I find myself remembering that someone saw meaning in the words I had to share. Almost 100 comments of community on the post, and so many saying how much they needed to hear the words that were spoken.
We all need to be reminded that there’s power in our stories. We all need the encouragement that no matter what page we’re on, no matter how long we’ve been stuck in the same chapter, He isn’t done writing.
I took a great risk by sharing those words and linking to this place, and as I walked by my dad I saw him on this oh-so-familiar site, reading my words. I asked him to close the screen, to not read them because it was my place where I’m learning how to write and share. He didn’t understand, and I don’t blame him. How do you explain this online community world to one who has never experienced it?
So dad, mom, or any family reading this – I love you, and I thank you for caring so much to read my words. Please, will you do me the favor of clicking out and talking to me in person, since we can do that? You can walk right down the hall or call me on the phone. I will share any of it with you, and in return will you respect this safe place of mine and leave it be?
I would be incredibly grateful.
And if you don’t, I want you to know that with each post my goal is to show this one evident truth that you’ve seen displayed in my life first-hand:
In the chaos and the unknowns, this one thing remains true: He is Faithful.
So I will write. Whether one or one hundred read along, I will praise the One who is still writing my Story.
I will take my cue from the greatest Author, the One with a pen to my Story, and I will share the words He gives. With a giddy joy and a deep sense of honor, I will praise Him who allows my name to go next to His words.
For the first time in my life, I am attaching this word to my being. I believe it deep in my soul, and know He has fashioned me to be.