Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.
This was something I heard over and over at Allume – sometimes it was said differently or just implied, but the message was the same.
I have often found myself trying to look like a blogger or writer that I admire; I try to copy their writing style, their passion, their callings. But there’s that simple truth – everyone else is already taken, and honestly they’re going to do it – whatever it is- better than I can because, well, they’re them and I’m not. They were given those exact gifts, and I’m only imitating. They have heard that specific word from God, and I’m only eavesdropping somewhere down the telephone line. They might be mirroring Christ, but if I’m mirroring them, then that makes me nothing more than a shadow – matte, shrouded, and completely devoid of light, because we cannot shine unless we are reflecting the Sun, and we cannot reflect the Sun if we are not fully facing Him.
There is something to be said for knowing what appeals to us and taking notes from someone who has mastered that particular skill, but when we look at someone else and think “I wish I could write that” and then try to copy who they are or what they do, then we lose our ability to be real; and people can tell when we’re not being authentic, because it looks cheap and vapid, and kind of shallow.
And why? Why do I even need to go there? Why do I feel like I need to look like anyone else to be valued?
This weekend Ann Voskamp said something that’s been retweeted approximately a million times, and for good reason. She said “When you take your life for granted? You get jealous. When you take your life as a gift — you get joy.”
Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing when we’re looking at other people and elevating them to a place of superiority, bemoaning our own lowliness? When we envy, aren’t we taking what God has given us, our lives, for granted? Aren’t we telling him “Hey, You failed here! You left me incomplete. If I were really whole, I would look like that!”
Do I, little ant, dare to have that kind of dangerous audacity?
We I need to remember that we are the storytellers and not just a single story. We are living, and breathing, and feeling, and evolving, and constantly moving forward, and that will never look like exactly like someone else. We have been placed exactly where we are for an exact purpose; we shine as stars who dance together to point the way to the Son. We are not the same, but we are together.
The stories we tell are extracted from the substance of our existence; the essence of our lives in the moments and days, from the mundane to the miraculous, and every breath of grace in between.
We cannot be confined to one story, one situation, one cause, one exhilarating moment of triumph or heartbreaking moment of surrender because we are not just words on a page – we are souls.
This is where I have strayed off course. I have limited myself – limited what I have allowed God to do with and through me.
“This is a blog about mothering” I said.
But soon the mothering well ran dry and I had nothing to draw from anymore because I realized I really didn’t know that much.
“This is a blog about faith, then.” I decided
But there are moments when what I have to say about my faith is better left at the foot of the throne and in the hands of the great healer.
“This is a blog about writing.” I revised.
But those moments of literary success come in blazes of Heavenly glory – and then it passes, and I’m left throwing draft after draft into an overflowing garbage can.
I have felt like an inadequate writer because I don’t have enough to say about something, because I am not a literary or mothering guru. But that’s not the point. That has never been the point. It’s not about knowing it all, it’s about letting God know all of me, and being available for Him to pour life in so that I can pour it back out to you.
This weekend I learned, I realized, that I am none of those things – but they are all part of me. I am a storyteller, and I have many stories to tell.
I have stories about faith, and mothering, and writing, and great causes, and heart ramblings, and life. And it’s messy. Life is messy – I’m certainly not an exception.
But I’m just going to tell His stories. Hands and heart open wide, ready to drink in and ready to flow out – I want to be brave, and honest, and low. Low enough to wash the feet of the lost and the found and the broken and the bold, and in doing so wash the very feet of Jesus.
I want to serve you, and encourage you, and I want to make you cry because I know that there is freedom and truth and surrender in tears.
I want you to read my stories – whatever they are – and be able to rest back in your chair with a mug in your hands and feel at home.
I want to join arms with you. I want to love you and minister to you and be Jesus to you from my messy, humble little home.
And I want to tell the stories. My stories. Your stories. The stories of a generation of Esthers who were born for a time such as this – to give our lives so that we might live.
To tell the broken who are sitting just outside our gates the story of the stars; stars that shine bright to light the way home.
I’m here to walk wherever the road leads – I am here to tell the stories.