Every August of my childhood, my Mama would take me to the mall for the big back to school shopping trip. It was a trip that I both anticipated giddily and dreaded heartily. I prepared diligently for these mall days, saving up Seventeen magazines and curling the edges of the pages with use. I planned who I might become that year, feeling the mantle and opportunity of a fresh start. I could be someone totally new.
I can still walk through the summer of 1993. I had tattered the edges of a magazine spread thin. In that fall world, girls my age stood in the midst of fog-covered New England looking landscapes. The leaves were bright swaths of God’s hand: yellow, red, orange. There were plaid kilts and knee high socks and long legs. It was serene and dignified and I wanted to be pasted right in: opportunity.
Reality: No matter how I tried on countless skirt after skirt or perfectly pale blue and crisp oxford, I was still me. It was still a 100 degree summer with 90 percent humidity. Sweat still pricked at my temples and I was still just five foot two. The leaves wouldn’t change until November and I would still be shy, unsure and uncertain. The clothes never changed me. Frustration, defeat and tears followed.
At the beginning of this year, I set a goal to write hard and clear. I set my feet to trudge down a path of bullet points and summaries and premises. I’ve circled around and around a gift from God, a story of His transforming work in my heart. Every step I took, more and more of the light of that story snuffed out until I wasn’t even sure I could keep pressing buttons and making little black letters appear on a screen.
Something has changed. In the mirror of a kitchen-spent Saturday evening, I saw the truth of how God made me on purpose in every way. Right there, as I baked chocolate chip cookies and my people watched Wonder Woman reruns, I saw the truth of what I have been doing. God desires truth from the inside out even when it comes in the reflection of an everyday night. Especially then.
I’ve been trying on sweaters that swallow me with defeat. I’ve been walking in shoes so tight that another step seemed impossible. I forgot who I was and I thought the clothes would change me. The truth is this: God made me on purpose in every way and I am a storyteller. I still have stories to tell, stories to tell of how He is pricking down deep. My goal hasn’t changed: I want to write without fear. I am determined to tell this story of His goodness and love to anyone who will listen. But I’ll do it on purpose in every way.
I don’t know. I think that we have to do this sometimes: walk around in sweaters that swallow us whole so that we can see what we truly are. I wouldn’t even call it wasted time despite how frustrating and dead-end living it might feel. In the end, this is Christ’s way: holding all things together in a forward-moving pitch.
Truth from the inside out.
Truth that changes the how and the why and the when.
Truth. I’m in. Are you?