It’s been a while, too long if you ask me, since we spent some time together. You’re one of my best friends. You are a critical part of who I am, shaping how I see the world and how I see myself in it. But these past few weeks I’ve found that no amount of yearning could give me the strength to schedule time with you, that which I needed most.
But even though it’s been several weeks since my fingers have laid claim to the keyboard, my relationship with you had me pick up right where I left off. The beautiful thing about relationships like ours is that no matter how long it’s been since we last conversed, you welcome me back all the same…with a blinking cursor and a clean crisp page ready for wherever our experience takes us.
For years, one of my closest confidants has evolved to be best seen or rather, best read. Hard to see on many days… especially as our world has recently not been presenting its best side. Hard to hear when my life is filled with kids constantly yelling demands and little time left for quiet reflection where the best listening happens. And most recently, I learned firsthand how hard it is to always allow this confidant to work in my life, especially when my life is being led by something a tad more demanding.
Many hear God best within the four walls of their church and from the lips of their preachers. Others see Him working in the lives of others, inspiring them to let Him work in their own lives. While my relationship with God usually deepens from these experiences too, the main way that God and I chitchat is much different, and it’s a place that I’ve recently neglected.
I can’t pinpoint the exact date, but many years ago I woke up one morning with an internal itch to write. Sure, I wrote for a living, but this was a different type of writing. This writing didn’t come with an outline or a topic predetermined. Instead it came with a stirring within that wouldn’t settle until I opened the computer, placed my fingertips lightly on the keyboard and closed my eyes. Only then, with my eyes refusing extra stimuli, could my heart hear exactly what He wanted to tell me that day. My fingers would start dancing across each key, leaving me with a message meant to both inspire me and inspire others to see Him in every moment.
These are my conversations with God. Each time I write, it is He who is doing the talking and me doing the listening. I know when it’s time for our regular chats because I become uneasy, my body knowing that a chat is needed, and quick.
For the last few weeks, I have felt the stir, but I was unable to find myself enough strength and stamina to hear what He needed to tell me. No amount of energy I tried to find was enough to bring me to open my computer. I wasn’t deliberately boycotting our relationship. Instead, I was suffering with ongoing, intense pain from an unexpected injury. It’s been the crippling pain. The kind that you can’t get off your mind even when you want to. The kind that takes over like the plague, leaving you with no extra space for rational thoughts, encouraging words, or openness to see the good, for to me there was no good in sight. All I saw in the days to come was more pain coupled with no sleep and no relief.
I felt hopeless. I felt like nothing would change. This “glass-half-full” optimist felt shattered and weak. I honestly felt like waiving my surrender flag. The rational part of me knew that of all people… me, who wrote a book about perspective, needed perspective most. And yet, the pain was eating me at the core, and perspective was nowhere to be found. The stirring for a God chat was there, I am sure, but I couldn’t make it happen. Not until today.
Today was different on many accounts. A little energy was gifted to me, giving me a small pep back in my step and the motivation to at least try. I found myself in my little nook at the Starbucks that had been my office for quite some time. I took it slow, trying to grasp all that I had to do from several weeks of not being able to do anything. I gave myself grace with each email I opened and each project I tried to tackle. I tried to not get overwhelmed and give up. I tried to let the me that had been masked by pain peek through.
The more I sat in that familiar spot, the more I felt the stir. I knew it was time, but I didn’t know if I was ready. If I was being honest with myself, I was mad. Mad that I had found myself in the depths of despair. Mad that I had allowed the negative energy to consume me. Mad that He let it happen to me. Fair or unfair… it didn’t seem to matter. Even when I felt Him trying to call me to the keyboard, restless for the possibilities brought to us with a blank Word document, I was still mad, and I didn’t know what it would take for me to let the frustration go.
I slowly made it through the overwhelming inbox and stumbled across a recording of a recent podcast I had done. I listened to the opening briefly, to confirm that it was good to share, but when my brain couldn’t focus on the next task at hand, I knew it was because I needed to listen to the podcast in full. I was the podcast guest, and I remembered the interview well, but the stirring within told me to carve out an hour and just listen. No matter how mad I was, I still caved and listening I did.
It was as if I was listening to a different person. Someone who was light and filled with a spirit that I so yearned to be filled with myself. I nearly didn’t recognize myself as my voice was different… my energy was different… my perspective, different too. I had confidence and joy that was contagious even to me, a weary version of the previously positive person. Before I could control it, I felt my stomach make its way into my throat and my tear ducts begin to moisten. No matter how hard my pain tried to hold onto the frustration, it was time to let go, and let God.
There, in the noisy Starbucks, God spoke to me through me. One of the oddest experiences I’ve had, letting Him use a gift He gave me for me. As I spoke of the messages baked into the book that He called me to write, I felt my frustration wash away and a new form of peace make its way into my heart. With each word I said… each message I shared… each tip I delivered, I listened as if it were the first time those words hit my ears for I knew that He was speaking directly to me.
“If you can embrace this mentality, you can do anything.” I had said that weeks before, talking about how Coloring Today Pretty can change your life. And yet, I had had no earthly clue that the moment that I would listen to the podcast would be a moment I had nearly hit rock bottom. I left the podcast listeners with a final question, and it was one that I so needed to hear at that moment… “Does life happen to you or for you?”
If you have followed my writing for years, you may think that I do it for you. That I share my personal vignettes to leave you inspired and help you to see the good and be the good. As much as I want to own that as 100 percent truth, I must admit that it is only part of the equation.
Today was proof that while I share what I do with you to allow Him to work in your life, it first starts as a way to guide my own life. My writing has become my faith-building process. It is how I talk directly to Him and listen to how He wants to use my life to leave this world better. And when I’m struggling, it’s how He picks me back up. I write because He calls me to. And today, when I didn’t want to write, He got creative, using another venue to push me to finally do so.
How do you work through challenges in your life? Do you create? You know I love a good craft project. Do you find yourself one with nature? Believe me, there is nothing like some good, intense gardening. Do you talk it out? We all need a good friend with a listening ear. He calls each of us to hear Him differently, tailoring to our unique needs and catering His messages to what we need to hear and when.
Today, through the tears, I was grateful that my God welcomed me back with open arms. As my fingers touched the keyboard it felt like a big, burly hug… one of those you give a friend you have missed so dearly. No judgement was placed no matter how long the time had lapsed. He loved me all the same. I closed my eyes and I let the frustration dissipate. With every word I typed, I felt my body relax. I surrendered, but not the kind that required a white flag. Instead, I surrendered to Him, believing once more that He has the power to do all, to be all, to heal all, to love all.
Why do I write? I do so because that’s where I hear Him most.