Twenty plus years ago, I sat at my computer in a little office I created. I wanted it to be perfect. I bought an antique pine desk and nestled it in the dormer of our bedroom. I found a pretty glass lamp and used an extra dining chair that held me comfortably, as I sat cross legged with a blanket across my thighs. In that chair, at that desk, I wrote a sentence that changed my life. One sentence.
After I wrote it, I sat back, surprised. Very surprised. I remember the pause as I sat in my chair. Even now, I see my shocked younger self, hands pulling away from the keys, the rise and fall of my chest as I inhaled the gift. And with that very breath, I came to know my true self.
Where did that come from? I read the sentence over and over in a southern drawl and allowed the character that was alive inside me, the freedom to finally be. The joy was overwhelming. I looked out the window of our first home, grinning in gratitude. I found the gift God gave me in that instant of breath and God and I, well, we were having a moment. The joy we both felt was palpable and fiercely alive.
My baby girl was napping in her nursery below me, my husband was off at work and in that stillness, at that desk, I was in the presence of God. And a treasure of pure joy literally moved through my fingertips.
How long had I ignored my characters knock at the door? How often had God whispered, write and I, full of fear, had quickly pushed it away. The rush of adrenaline from ignoring the fear and freeing the gift, surged through me. I was awake. Finally. Aware that God finds His joy in us finding ours. I continued to write.
We had another child, a boy. Our home grew small and we moved. My desk thoughtfully placed in a new home, a new space. The children kept me busy. I wrote here and there. My story grew and so did our family, we had two more babies and moved again. My precious time with God and my story took a back seat to raising my family; my desk, now a console table in our living room.
When the gifts weren't used, fear crept in. Every time I'd look at my desk, I'd hear my inner critic's negative bullying. Hah, look at you, thinking you really had something there, and you’ll never finish it, so why even start? Or Who would want to read this anyway? You're wasting your time. There is an emptiness that comes with believing the lies of the critic and not pursuing your gifts. No one else knows something is missing, because it's just below the surface of everyday life, but your heart aches for more. It has too.
About two years ago, I redesigned my life. I decided to stop the ache and kill the critic. I created the possibility of living POWERFULLY and CREATIVELY, and the moment I did...God and I, well...We REJOICED!
I pulled out my computer, prayed and got to work. The characters were right there, like they'd always been-waiting for me to believe in the gift again. I feel closest to God in these moments, which is why I write. A LOT! And here's the cool thing, I don't really care if anyone ever reads it or if anyone thinks it's even good, because I'm at peace pursuing the things that make me happy, that please God and that make me come alive in Him. Phillipains 1:6 reads, "HE WHO HAS BEGUN A GOOD WORK IN YOU WILL COMPLETE IT." And honestly, that is the only encouragement I need.
Committing to living powerfully and creatively looks like this: I went on a writing retreat, I joined a weekly writing group (that I love,) I started a blog, where I am free to create, whether it's an inspiring room or a story like this one. I tried out for Listen To Your Mother with a piece I wrote about my son and was picked to be a part of the cast, I created an instagram account (@sweetshadylane) that is a feed full of rooms, vignettes and designs that inspire. Along with my novel, I dream of producing a coffee table book on decor and with God rejoicing in all my creative endeavors, I plan to finish my novel, one sentence at a time.
My pursuits have to be fearless, so everyday, with God by my side, I fight the critic. I have to. Because living out God's possibility for me is worth fighting for. I stopped worrying what others may think, do or say. No, I don't have a degree in design or even writing for that matter, and that's just the thing...Becoming your true self, means letting go of the things that get in the way. Trust me, my critic has previously mentioned those things and one of us already won that fight.
Coco Chanel said, “beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” And isn’t that so true? That instant of time, at that pretty pine desk, was my moment.