I laughed so hard tears squeezed out of my eyes as I frantically smeared my mascara all over my fingers in a pathetic attempt to preserve some of my makeup.
Beth Moore was being Beth Moore — stomping around the stage in her high heels and flailing her arms telling a hilarious story that made my sides hurt from laughter. I don’t remember a single thing about that story — just that I could not stop laughing.
I do remember the next thing she said and how my tears changed so suddenly I caught my breath. They gushed from this well of pain I didn’t even know was there. I acutely remember the searing that burned into my heart when God engraved her next words on my soul:
“Stop robbing me of your gifts!”
I had many, many times wanted to tell Beth “Thank you — you’ll just never know how God has worked through you to draw me to Him. God could have done it any way He wanted to — but I am free and experiencing the best Love of my life because you have been faithful to share the gifts God has given you.”
The idea that I could be robbing her of some blessing wounded me.
She shared about when she started teaching Bible class — how her knees would shake the whole time. She talked about how insecure and afraid she was to be a public speaker with all her personality quirks in a world full of loud mouthed critics. She confessed in her couldn’t-change-it-if-I-tried Texas accent “For crying out loud, I annoy myself!”
But then… she shared this truth about how we are part of body, and every part effects every other part — there’s just no way around it.
And the Spirit of God made it ring through my mind in echoes that haven’t faded all these years later: “Stop robbing Me of your gifts!”
I didn’t feel like I had any gifts. I was a mess of single mom trying to put one foot in front of the other. Or at least, if I had them, I wasn’t sure what they were, or how to use them, or where to begin.
Then one day a few years later I had someone mention a blog to me that they thought I would like to read. I told them I had no idea what a blog was. This was about 6 years ago, and I was completely unaware of this concept of an online space where you could journal, or share how-to info and all that sort of thing.
Then I had several other loved ones tell me I really needed to check out this blog. I finally did. It was Ann Voskamp’s.
I think I cried everyday for the first six weeks I read her journal. The Spirit was speaking to me through her simple stories. And all of a sudden, in a soft, subtle kind of way, my love for writing stories was reborn.
So I started my own blog out of this desire to process and share what God was teaching me, in the hope that it would bless or encourage someone else. I wrote a lot of flailing, emotional, rambling words. I both loved it — and wanted to quit. It was downright embarrassing to re-read some of my entries that I had made public to anyone on the ‘net. Fortunately for my egg-shell self esteem I had a teeny, tiny few that followed my first blog.
And out of those few — I had a couple of people ridiculously determined to always, always, point out the good — or the potential for good — in what I was sharing.
They planted seeds of hope in my nearly continually discouraged heart.
They spoke boldly over my loud ranting about how I just wanted to print out my blogs to be able to shred them. They insisted that God had given me a gift for writing — that what I had done was better than “pathetic” or ” not good enough”. They maintained that what I had produced was treasured by them, and made a difference to them.
So I’m thinking of you — amazing, beautiful, frustrated-out-of-your-mind- you who wants to furiously shred the gift you have tried/are trying to share as “pathetic” or “not good enough”. And I’m thinking you need to read this book, The Dot. Everyday. For as long as it takes.
In the story The Dot Peter H. Reynolds wraps our hearts around a little girl who doesn’t feel she can create any art at all. She feels she can’t make anything beautiful or worthwhile. When her teacher presses and encourages her to just start and do something the little girl finally gets angry enough to smash her pencil down on a piece of paper creating a tiny, simple dot on a page.
The teacher studies it, and then gently asks the girl “Now… sign it.”
The little girl signs the paper with only a single dot as the expressed culmination of her creative skills and the teacher takes the signed artwork, places it in a swirly gold frame, and hangs it proudly behind her desk.
The little girl looks at that audaciously framed dot and determines that she can do a better dot than that. She does. And her dots get better and better over time.
Finally, when she has overcome her fear of trying and sharing she discovers just how much she can do and a little while later her dot-art lines a wall at the school art show. And a little boy aches out a whisper that he wishes he could make art like she does.
The girl asks the little boy to draw a line on a piece of paper — though he insists he can’t draw a straight line even with the help of a ruler — and when he draws a squiggly, messy line he hands it back to her. She studies his mark, hands it back to him and says “Please… sign it.”
So now I’m saying this to you: “friend — stop robbing me of your gifts!”
My God-gifted friend — go ahead and own it. Please put your name by that single, frustrated dot or that scared, shaky line.
Because you’ve got to plant a dot-sized seed before there can be a harvest.
It’s okay if all your hard work and that beautiful potential just looks like it is buried under dirt right now… maybe it is. Buried in dirt is a necessary part of the growth process — not the end result.
The seed planting is up to you.
The harvest is up to God.
Be brave. That means: be scared and do it anyway.
Friend — stop robbing me of your gifts. I need your gift. We need your gift.
Dear artistic, amazing, terrified and discouraged one made in the image of The Creator –
“Please… sign it.”
((((((This is me gold-swirly-framing it for you!))))))
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”
~1 Cor. 12:7 (NLT)
You are so, so loved.
*Repost from April 3rd, 2014