I don’t know where I was recently when someone said, ‘Who knew Lucy had all this going on inside her?” Lucy is a mom. She’s a daughter. She’s a wife. She’s a member of a church. She serves others. She belongs to a small group. She has bad hair days and an adult son with autism. Most of us can’t imagine her life because of the sacrifices that adult autism requires. She’s been in a circle of people for YEARS, but something was bubbling under the surface that needed to come out of Lucy. Nobody really knew that or what it was. She probably didn’t even know. She probably just felt incomplete, restless, under-utilized, under-connected. Like something was missing. Or the classic, “There has to be more to my life than this.” I’ll have to ask her. Maybe I’m just projecting, but I don’t think so.
Anyway, Lucy, the girl that everybody “knew,” well, I imagine she got up one day and said somethin’ like this to that bunch of people in that circle that knew her so well: “I got something inside me that needs to come out and I gotta let it go. I don’t know how. But I know this. It’s in me. And it’s been in me for a long time. I’ve squashed it and avoided it. I’ve let bits of it out and then been discouraged because others don’t feel it the way I know it inside. I’ve tried to get people to feel it and see it the way I do, but when they don’t, I push it back in. I doubt. I get discouraged. I question. I move on.”
“I can’t wait any longer for someone to recognize it, approve it, stamp it, guide it, or bless it. I gotta move in whatever direction it’s gonna take me because if I spend the rest of my life waiting for someone else to tell me how to let it out or to approve my choice to let it go, I’ll die with it inside. Or it’ll kill me by reminding me daily, ‘part of what God made you for was this. You know it but you’re afraid to go for it because you might fail or people might not support you or agree or … whatever.’”
Maybe it didn’t go so well at first. Maybe she was like a kid excited and jacked up with purpose because she was letting it come out. Her talent. Her gift. Her hidden beauty. But everybody around her still saw Lucy. The wife. The mom. The servant. The group member. The friend. But Lucy wasn’t Lucy anymore. She was Lucy squared. She had purpose. She had released that thing inside that was kicking her in the gut and she was determined not to push it down.
One person joined her venture. And then…
That’s where we want to write the happy ending, isn’t it? One person joined and then two and now she’s the leader of the world quilting association helping hurting people across thousands of miles. Success, in the world’s eyes, is dependent on numbers and public light and the approval of man. On a million clapping hands. On spot-lights and another person saying, “I agree. This is what you were made for and all these awards and articles are proof.” But the One who hands out callings is intent on knowing that you know that this gift, this talent, this thing that the Gift-Giver has dispensed, must survive regardless of approval or disapproval. It must stand despite them. Because, you see, callings take you to dark places. They drag you to places where no light shines so that this light that shines in you will illuminate the darkness. Will crowd it out. Will take it over. Will change the world, one person squared at a time.
That’s the cross roads, isn’t it? The moment when your life purpose can’t depend any longer on who joins you. On who agrees that this is what you were made for. On who affirms you. When the number of people on the bus of your purpose is secondary to the number of times that the gift/talent/call has kicked you in the gut begging to be let out of the prison formed by the bars you build with your thoughts. “But I can’t.” “I’m afraid.” “I don’t know how to.” “Maybe I’m deluded.” “But she’s better than me at this.” “Someone else already does that in my church/house/community.” “Yadda yadda yadda!” When the opposition feels less like doubt about whether you were made for this and more like a test as to whether you will give the rest of your breath back to God in conformity with your intended design. A test as to whether you will die with the lie in your heart that God is capable of design defects. A test as to whether you know where the calling came from and who called and why He said your name and not somebody else’s in connection with that thing, that path, that task, that skill, that deep knowledge that you were made, in part, for this.
Countless times, I’ve heard this thing inside a called-one beg to be released. My friend Ritz said it in a group of women not too long ago. “I’m done going through the motions. I want that abundant life God promises. I gotta take a leap of faith and step out of my comfort zone.” Everybody related. Everybody. Only she had the courage to say it. Something had popped in her. Ritz squared.
It wasn’t a proclamation. It was a verbal act. A line in the sand. A risk that if she said it to enough people that it would be harder to shut the door when she was tempted to retreat.
There’s a phrase that keeps coming into my heart as I ponder this tipping point in people. This place where they are ready to pop. Where it’s suddenly hip to be squared. Still waters run deep. I don’t know the intended meaning of that phrase, but I can see this pattern in these people that take the risk to let go and fully embrace their gifts and callings. They become restless.
Like a choppy river. They swirl. And gurgle. And they rage sometimes against the urge in them. They run. Sometimes to the thing and sometimes away from it. Some of them get mad at people for not supporting them enough and blame that lack of support for their withdrawal from the effort. Or they hide so that nobody thinks they have the gift at all, hoping it will go away, but it never does. Gifts are relentless, powerful things because they lead to callings — pause before you read this next phrase — and called is what we are all designed to be. Like beacons pointing a ship to harbor, gifts point the called one to her calling. And make no mistake about it, the light of a gift/call does not go out without a prize winning fight. Gurgle gurgle, churn churn go the waters of the called one.
Sometimes the turbulence looks like this: The gifted one makes grand announcements of intent. “OK people, I’m gonna do this! Go all in!” But when everybody reacts like she’s just announced meatloaf for dinner, she retreats. Probably because this is the 72nd time she’s decided to go all in. The gift inside kicks her in the ribs encouraging her to be more specific. “I don’t think they heard you. Tell them more,” says the gift to the called one. “I’m gonna write a book,” the called one proclaims. “Great,” someone finally says. “I’m proud of you. You go girl.” But then the called girl realizes she actually has to write the book with no stadium of hand clappers standing by her side cheering her on when she gets writer’s block or is afraid this is one enormous waste of time. “I’m gonna start a group,” another whispers, but then feels overwhelmed with all the things she doesn’t know or can’t control. Or the called one actually goes all in, but gets tested or challenged or criticized or it isn’t as glamorous or easy as she thought it’d be. So she decides she must not be called. Problems with the Gift-Giver she presumes. She quits. Again. These are very tumultuous times for the called one.
And then — stick with me here — this is when it gets really good. And then one day, she gets still. On the surface, it looks like nothing is happening. But deep in the water of her soul, everything is happening. God whispers in her spirit. “OK, now that you’re done with all that, now that you’ve gotten all that out of your system, now that you’ve tried to get there on your own steam or with man driving your bus and you’ve found yourself on the side of the road needing a jump start or a tow or a wrecking crew… now you’re ready to move over and let Me drive the bus.”
“I know. I know it seems scary. But, the truth is your driving is pretty lousy. Good news is you’ve learned a lot. And you’ve traveled a lot of miles. I know you see everything leading up to this moment as a colossal waste of time. But take heart kid. I see it soooooo differently. I’ve been weakening you so that you won’t try to take the wheel when we’re in the middle of the ride. You see, you are designed to be driven. I am the gift in you. I am the strength in that gift. I am the power and the light. I am the only way. I am. I’ve been letting you wear out your flesh, your ability, your physical and mental strength so that you can now watch how much I can do in your weakness. You are so ready now!”
“Wasted? Did I hear you say all the events leading up to this moment have been wasted? None of the effort leading up to this point has been wasted. I don’t waste anything! Let me give you a little glimpse. You’ll start to do that old pattern where you move toward man and his approval and you’ll start to do that old thing you once did where you over-prepare just in case I don’t show up or you’ll redirect your efforts to keep up with the fickle moods of men, but then you’ll remember how much that sucked, how exhausted you were, how fruitless that was, how frustrating it feels to follow the moods of man or your own limited power, and you’ll let yourself be weak so I can be strong. You know so well now how far you can drive on your own steam. But more, you know that hunger to go farther than you can on your own fuel and you are starting to let the truth set you free — I’m the only power that can get you there. I am.”
“You see kid, I put Me inside you to do My work, and if you keep fighting to go in a direction I’m not going, you’ll just wear yourself out. Relax. Just do this thing I made you to do. Do it well regardless of man’s reaction, judgment, criticism and praise. Praise? Oh, that one caught you off guard? Yeah, I know. Praise is good right? Sometimes it is. Sometimes I use people to encourage you with praise. But praise is dangerous if you draw your direction and value from it. If you become too dependent on it, you’ll start to adapt your behavior to the praise and not to the direction I have for you. Let me encourage you along the way. You may be surprised by how many forms encouragement takes. Pay attention!”
“So here we go kid. I’m gonna drive that urge in you. That talent. That skill. That gift. I want you to use it. Develop it. Offer it. Over and over again. Watch Me use it in ways you could never imagine. You won’t see a fraction of what I’m doing with it, but trust Me. If you let Me square you, I’ll fill you with peace and purpose and you will be full because you will be moving with the knitting I designed you for.”
“Now we’re gonna swim up to the surface together. And when you emerge into the eddy or the calm water, nobody is going to notice anything different about you. Which will feel really odd because you’re different now. You’ve jumped off the dry land of your power and into the life giving stream of Mine. Can you remember that they don’t realize that yet? That they don’t have to understand it or agree? This is between you and Me kid. You just have to listen for my voice and go where I’m calling. I’ll be with you. And if the waves start to get rough and the water starts to swirl, be still and know that I am the water that is in you washing you along the stream I chose for you. Are you ready? Let’s swim up to the surface together. Be still. I’ll take you there.”
“Keep swimming Lucy. Keep swimming Ritz. Keep swimming with the equipment I gave you. And when you wonder if I’m with you, be still. Still waters run deep ya know!”
Copyright 2013 Kat Silverglate