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“Are you willing to let the leaves fall?”
This year-old Insta post struck a nerve with me, as we once again turned seasons and as I turned towards the unknown, the future.
My husband and I are both learning to let go, in different way. For him, he’s letting go of decades of work to imagine a different way forward.
Me, I’m barely a year into writing as more than processing emotions alone in pages documents that no one else will read, but the year of “keep moving forward” is doing just that—and in the process, I’m letting go of a full-time job to reduce my hours (and pay), so that I can leverage even more of my life writing.
It all feels so strange to say. I grew up writing, in the margins, in the secret journals, in the notes section of bulletins. Yet I didn’t call myself a “writer” until late in college, when I had to stop running from myself, even though that felt like the right, the Christian, thing to do.
I didn’t realize that running straight into God’s will might not leave me behind, like I thought it would. There’s a distinct line of shame running in my story that says, “You are not good enough, so do more good things to make up for it.” Does that ring true for you too?
I believe that this is what we are taught in the church. And I believe it is a lie.
I had a friend look me in the eye and say, “You are a writer. Stop trying to be practical,” as I wrestled with a decision that might take me further on the mission field, but would be like cutting off my hands, though I might not have had such strong words around it then. I do now, because it was on the mission field where I learned that I, truly, could not let this writer part of me go, because it was the only thing keeping me moving in a whirlwind of circumstances that left me wounded, depressed, and wondering if I had heard God right when I heard him say, “Go.” I had assigned that word a calling, and then a location, and then my whole life revolved around it.
So you could say I’m rather practiced in the art of letting go, because this was what I had to do to survive those years in India. I had to let go that this calling was forever, that this location was my dream, that my life was meant for this.
I no longer believe that our lives are meant for just one thing.
“Calling,” as we define and use the term, is not how God uses it. For him, it’s his voice that’s most important, not the place or purpose. It’s the relationship, and not the work, that he is after. We’ve lost that nuance completely. And it leads to seasons like mine in India, or yours knee-deep in business, or the American church striving for power instead of love. Our eyes, and our lives, tend to narrow around this idea, this “one thing” we’re called to, and then when something expands our vision—often by force or necessity—we have to learn to keep them wide open.
And I don’t know about you, but I want to live that wide-open kind of life.
Where I’m not piegon-holed into one purpose or another; not even writing can be my full, my one focus.