Earlier this week I stood before my church and shared a piece of my heart. Not because I love to talk in front of people or because I’m particularly good at it, I did it because I believe that sharing our personal stories of how God’s grace has impacted us, is valuable.
In preparation, my story felt insignificant to share and I wrestled back and forth about believing I had something worth saying. But in that wrestle, I realized that no matter how insignificant my story might appear to someone else, God’s work is never insignificant. And sometimes the story that He asks us to share isn’t the point so much as the story He writes in the process of preparing to share it.
In my wrestle to prepare, I realized that not sharing my story is limiting the space for God to impact me further, it’s not giving myself fully to the work He’s doing in me now. Nothing God does is meaningless, even the way He intricately pieces things together in preparation. So when I stop to evaluate His grace in my life and step to share it with others, I’m not only allowing Him to use me to touch someone else’s heart but I’m allowing Him to move more in mine.
So I took that heart-racing and sweaty-palm step forward, saying, “Your will be done in this too,” and I shared. And I’m doing it again as I stand in this space and share a piece of my story here too.
Some of you may know this…but I’ve been writing a lot this year. It took me a while to finally start calling myself a writer, but I am. There’s something about fully engaging my mind, body, and soul in the process of forming words together to create something that makes me not only feel alive but come alive. I have never been able to put words to it, in fact…it was only just this past year that I felt like I finally understood it for myself.
It first started when I was eight. We lived on a farm and I spent a lot of time outside. There was one specific day, the summer I was eight, that I remember sprawling out on the grass in our front yard…staring up into the sky. I laid there for a very long time…lost in the wonder of the big blue expanse filled with white puffy clouds that shifted and moved, forming new characters and told me stories. I marveled at it all. The vastness of the sky, the tangible earth beneath me. It was so beautiful and so incredible.
Laying there made me realize how insignificant I was.
But in realizing my insignificance I also realized that I was. A person, a daughter, a creation…alive, breathing and beholding everything around.
Suddenly, I got up and ran inside…grabbed a notebook and a pencil, raced back to my spot in the grass, plopped myself back down, and started putting words on paper. I didn’t know what to write, I didn’t know I needed to write, I just wanted to. What I was writing wasn’t significant at the time, I wasn’t cognitively thinking about the words I was putting down…I just remember watching my hand create something on the paper and marveling at it. How I had the ability to form letters, that formed words, that formed sentences that wrote a story….it was so significant to me how much of a wonder it was…to create something with words.
It was simple…but so profound to me. It was as if something was breathed life in me at that moment and I felt entirely alive in a way that I couldn’t understand. At the time, I just knew how cool and big God was and how much I liked to write.
From the time I was very little I had this desire in me to be who God wanted me to be…I knew who my creator was, I knew I was created for a purpose, and I wanted to be that. Apart from that desire, I desired three things: I wanted to get married, to be a mom, and write a book. The book thing was always like a far-fetched dream that I hoped for, but the marriage and mom thing wasn’t…so when Andrew and I got married I sort of just waited around to get pregnant.
But…we couldn’t, and we didn’t…for five years.
I felt very aimless during those years of infertility, it was incredibly difficult. When I say I was waiting around, it wasn’t that I wasn’t doing anything…in fact, at one point I was working three jobs…I just felt aimless. As I said, writing was always a thing in my life and I tried blogging during this time (this was back when blogging first became popular)…but everybody else was writing about their kids, and I didn’t have any–therefore I felt like didn’t have anything to write about.
One of my jobs was being a nanny, and one day on the job…something changed. I used to get to the house where I nannied at 4:30 am and I would collapse on the couch until the baby woke up for the day. I rarely fell back asleep. This one day I laid there…thinking about writing a book, I never forgot I wanted to, I just never actually tried. I started dozing off…that half-asleep/half-awake thing…and a story unfolded before my eyes. It was vivid and clear, something that just came to me. It was wonderful and I sort of just marveled at it. Then, my eyes popped open and I got up and started writing it down. It wasn’t just a short story, it was chapter after chapter…and I wrote and I wrote, week after week. I knew God wanted me to do this…pursue this…and I did. It was exciting.
Something happened through this process of time that I was writing this book…I came alive in a way that I wasn’t before. All of the things I knew in my head and but never fully impacted my soul…about God being enough and having true contentment about not having kids…it actually happened. It wasn’t that I didn’t experience his goodness or pieces of contentment up until that point, but this was different.
His sovereignty and sufficiency impacted me intimately and completely through this season of writing.
I didn’t feel aimless because I knew exactly who I was as a daughter of the King. Childless and in a rocky season of marriage, I had never felt so whole in my entire life.
I tried to explain it to a lifelong friend one day when we were visiting family back in our hometown, about what God was doing in me…how right life felt and how God had brought me to this very real and deep place of contentment. I told her about how it didn’t matter if I ever finished the book, I just knew I was supposed to be working on it. I told her about how it didn’t matter if I ever got to have children …I could taste and see that the Lord was good and he was more than enough.
My friend looked at me and I won’t forget what she told me…she said, “Kristina…finally! It’s so amazing to see you come alive like this, this is what I’ve been hoping for, for you.” At the time, I just laughed in agreement and thankfulness. Even then, I still didn’t really see the connection between me and writing.
Literally a few months later I became pregnant. Several months after that we moved back to Minnesota and in the process of moving, being house guests for a while, and then settling into our own place…working on the book was put on hold. I picked it back up after my daughter, Vienna, was born, but writing became muddled with a lot of other things. Like becoming a doula or a nutritionist…I couldn’t decide, because I loved both natural birth and coaching, as well as health and fitness, and those things were very real parts of my life that I valued. I didn’t stop writing but it shifted from writing the book to writing (a blog again) about these other things…essentially, I wrote to elevate myself. I didn’t see it at the time because I thought I was helping people, but in my blind attempt, I was actually seeking my own glory. The writing was stifled and eventually stopped being part of my life completely.
For years…I didn’t even write in my journals. A part of me fell asleep…a part of me was stagnant…a part of me felt lost, but I couldn’t have told you what it was that was actually lost.
Then, I started writing again six years ago when we moved back to our hometown. God had been working in me for a while but the move there was like a catalyst for a lot of things…and he revealed himself to me in really big ways through our move, through starting a life there, and through many people in our church family. It made me want to write again, so I cracked open my journal and started writing about all the things God was doing and showing me, but I was a little bit hesitant…it was kind of like a slow climb upward, like learning how to walk again, but I wasn’t quite fully engaged in it.
Fast forward…to pretty much exactly a year ago…when God showed me all of these pieces of writing in my life and brought them together for me to see clearly. And he used a sermon given by a leader in our church, Brook, to do it. The sermon was on Psalm 98.
In his sermon, Brook talked about making a new song unto the Lord, a joyful noise…with our life. He explained that making a new song unto the Lord is responding without hesitation to the way God reveals himself in our lives and rescues us.
He described it with the example of a raw response to something unexpected and delightful…I immediately thought of seeing that very first positive pregnancy test when I found out I was pregnant with Vienna. I had fallen to my knees and cried out to God with thanksgiving and awe…it was a raw response to his hand at work in my life.
Brook gave the example from the Bible of the Israelites who cried out in song and celebration when God rescued them…and when David orchestrated melodies and poems as God revealed himself to him…their responses were unbridled.
Making a new song to the Lord means responding, without hesitation…unbridled…as God reveals himself in your life.
I was challenged to think about how I bridle my response to God’s work in my life…and that’s when it hit me. I was hesitating to write.
When I realized this I remembered that day when I was eight for the first time in ages…I saw it with more clarity now as I realized how I didn’t hesitate to respond to the way God moved me. I thought about that day when I started writing that book and the work he did in me through the process. I thought about the ways writing had always made me come alive and realized that…
to fully engage in writing is to fully engage in worship of my savior.
That day I realized that when I fully engage in writing, I am more wholly me because I am moving in exactly the way that he made me to move. And he delights in it. He is glorified in it. And I come more alive because of him, in it. I come alive when I write because it’s communing with him, it’s worship…it’s intimacy with my Creator.
In the absence of writing, or in misuse, in hesitation or lack of engagement when I do…I’m bridling my life.
God showed me that my desire to write is because he gave the desire to me because it’s his desire for me. To fully pursue him with all of me, means to fully engage in writing because He created me to respond and create in this way.
So, I stopped bridling my life and started stepping more in the way God designed me. And I have found myself so amazed how intricately and intimately he knows me. He knows how to affirm me in those places I doubt, he knows how to comfort me when I’m scared, he knows how to course correct me when I wander…I am astounding over and over again how he knows exactly what I need.
How he knows me and loves me only increases my desire to know him more….and the more he reveals himself to me, the more I desire to make a new song unto him with my life.
Me writing isn’t about me creating something…I create something through writing because in writing I’m giving myself fully to the Lord and to the work he’s doing in me and through me.
As I wrote through the end of last year I felt this preparation stirring…but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then this January I felt like God showed that I am a writer and to claim that which he has given me. At the same time, he brought to a path and said, “I have given this to you…these pieces, this picture, this gift. I have created and cultivated this in you…now is the time for you to go cultivate with it, to give yourself fully to the work I have for you in this work and serve in this way that I made you.”
And so…I stand before you today, a child of God, a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister and friends…and a writer. I don’t know exactly what God is doing and what his will is with writing in my life…but I do know he wants me to give myself fully to the work he is doing through writing.
Purposefully writing this year has been both joyous and incredibly difficult work so far, and I know it will continue to be…but that’s a story for a different time.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Kristina M. Ward