I spent this afternoon attempting to breathe life back into the limp branches and flattened needles of our fake Christmas tree. Half way through arranging Chad's childhood ornaments (most of them some sort of candy icon) I remembered my experience putting up this same tree last year, albeit it was less limpid and neglected at the time. I was alone in our house, a week before Thanksgiving, watching Father of the Bride 2 on TV and blubbering like a lunatic. When Chad got home and found me, most likely mascara-streaked and covered in fake pine needles (the genius of having a fake tree is that it mimics a real pine's uncanny ability to lose as many needles as possible in the shortest amount of time). I told him I was just really touched by the movie. A week and three pregnancy tests later, I was a crumpled mess on our bathroom floor...so much for movies touching my heart.
The Sunday we found out we were pregnant, a man got on stage at the church we were going to and said he felt like he had a word of encouragement for someone in the congregation. "There is a door that is opening in some one's life, and it is going to be ushering in a whole new season and circumstance in that person's life. And this person is going to feel like it cannot be of God, and will be tempted to believe God is not in the situation. The truth, however, is that God is right behind the door, and this new circumstance is part of His perfect plan for your life." With those words, the man sat down. And literally I heard in my heart, "You are pregnant". I rebuked the voice, went on listening to our pastor, and spent the rest of the day unsuccessfully trying to repress this strange sense in my heart that perhaps that word was for me. At about eight that night, I asked Chad if we could go get a pregnancy test...you know, just for fun. He indulged me, rolling his eyes the whole time. I didn't mention the feeling I had in church, or the strange urgency I felt to see if I had heard correctly. The minute I saw those little blue lines appear, I slumped to the floor, and felt a huge weight of fear fall onto my heart. What would happen to Chad and I? Where would my youth go? How was I supposed to be someone else's mom when only a few years ago I was sobbing about going to college on my mom's bed, begging her to read me Green Eggs and Ham just once more?
The minute all of those memories flashed into my mind today, I turned around to see Chad carrying my little brown-eyed nugget down from her afternoon nap, and she was staring right at me like she knew what I'd been remembering. That tiny little bundle of life and joy is last year's greatest fear, incarnate. I almost laughed out loud.
Of course, a few days after taking those pregnancy tests, the Lord basically told me that whatever I had fear about, I had permission to believe the opposite would be true regarding having a baby. So I spent the next nine months believing the this baby would bring joy, intimacy, peace, youth, and new life into our home. Eden is all of those things and more. The day she was born, after the tests were performed, the nurses had checked in for the last time, and the family had gotten their fill, Chad and I were finally alone in the hospital room just looking at Eden. Out of nowhere, Chad said, "God knew something we didn't. I wonder how many other good things God has for us that we're just too afraid to say yes too."
What is ironic about the timing of all of these memories, and the haphazard way Chad and I decided to just put the darn tree up today rather than when we get back from Texas, is that I was sitting in church today and felt the Lord start to address the things I am afraid of now.
Nearly every day, I feel like writing about something the Lord has laid on my heart or convicted me of, some sin area I have just realized is in my life, but the audience in my head reminds that most people might assume that I'm writing because I'm pretty impressed with myself, or that I'm pretty super-spiritual and arrogant, and that I think everyone wants to read my blog, or that I'm really a shabby writer and nobody has time to entertain thoughts from a person who spends her days entertaining a three-month-old. And in fear of seeming this way to people, I usually just let those urges to write slip by.
But for some reason today I thought about the people I love in my life, and how much I want them to walk out into their callings, not matter what they are. I want Jackie Blankenship to decorate and be crafty as much as possible, and dance her heart out on stage because it blesses me all the way to my toes. I want Meredith Smith to make as many friends as possible, and be the sweetheart of every fraternity because she is so good at making people feel at home. I want Alissa Mazzenga to keep painting, because every time I see something she's done, I want to pass on to Heaven and Glory. I want Shaylee Simeone to keep singing, because there is something about the liquid clarity of her gift that makes me want to die. I want Jess Graham to keep taking pictures because she manages to photograph the life in a moment. I want Morgan Pilcher to keep travelling and loving every minute of a new life, because I somehow vicariously go with her. I think you get the idea. Everyone brings something to the table, and some people bring a lot more than others. I am not sure if writing is what I bring, but I do know that stuff gets put on my heart and when I don't share it I feel like I am word-constipated...(lovely Charis, just lovely). I feel like I have to get it out somehow.
And so, instead of being afraid of myself, of how I might seem, of how others might hate it, I just want to let you know that I will be trying to be obedient to overcome those fears, and just write when it comes upon me. And whatever you do, just go do it. Don't sit in fear, wringing your hands over every one's opinions and worrying about your own self-concept. So what if there are nineteen million people in photography already? Be the number nineteen million and one. Even if you're not the best, just offer it up anyway. And God isn't the voice in your head. He never asked you to be the best, He just wants you to use what you've got to whatever capacity He asks. Fear never keeps you safe. It keeps you stuck.