I sat on my garage floor and looked through boxes from my parents’ attic. The kind of boxes disintegrating from age, filled with files of my schoolwork since preschool, homemade gifts, school valentines, and stories I wrote.
My parents downsized this year. So, everything my mom saved and couldn’t part with became my responsibility. Part of me wanted to toss them without looking inside. I didn’t know what was in them for the last 30 years, why do I need to even peek? I’ve put it off for months, almost a year.
My husband pointed this fact out earlier today and I got the gumption to tackle it. Maybe a cleaner garage will help our current house sell so we won’t be paying two mortgages when we move into our farmhouse.
I read my elementary report cards and was surprised. I thought I was bad at math. Guess not. I looked through yearly questionnaires and saw a pattern of always wanting to create and draw and become an artist. I forgot how much I loved to color. I had flashbacks of second grade Thanksgiving feasts with homemade butter, and third grade Valentine parties with young love. I remembered what a wonderful childhood I had and was thankful for the reminder.
I had just been complaining earlier in the week to my mom about how I feel I’ve been called to be tougher or to persevere or to charge the hill more than other women.
Maybe this is only my perception, but it’s real to me.
For some reason God has endowed me with vision. That’s not an easy role to have. Usually the prophets are kicked out of town, stoned, or worse. They’re definitely not listened to.
Just a few hours later, during the last two worship songs of our church service, I felt the Lord was calling me to the courage He had already given me. To embrace the role as bold leader. For me to quit fighting back, worried it might be misunderstood or awkward with others.
He reminded me I had always been a tenderhearted, courageous leader. Some of the treasures I saw this afternoon in my garage proved that. He brought to mind specific instances in a flash over my almost 37 years. It’s what I imagine others mean when they talk about having their life flash before their eyes.
God was using these flashbacks to make His case to me. And let the lie die.
I believed Him. I opened myself up to who He made me to be — a woman of great courage. I could see myself kneeling before the throne and Jesus commissioning me. Almost like a ceremony for knighthood. I held a large sword and felt the warmth of His radiant love.
The prayer from the stage ended, and I was brought back to the present dimension. But so much happier. I could now live in the courageous spirit the Lord has entrusted to me, unashamedly, knowing I am to lead for Him, be a tender Word warrior and bravely follow the Spirit’s leading.
I hope there isn’t a huge battle He’s trying to prepare me for or more difficulty ahead. But I do know I am equipped for the straight path of His plan.
I never thought of courage as a spiritual gift before, but now I see how it can only be a gift coming from the Holy Spirit when I’m living in Jesus. Of course courage is a gift!
What gift has the Holy Spirit given you that you haven’t fully embraced? I’m sure His gift in you will look very different than mine. That’s what makes you beautiful. How is Jesus calling you to use it? Will you let down your concerns and be the spirit-filled woman Jesus deeply desires for you?
So, so timely for me to read this today. God has been doing a significant growth work in my heart and my life for the past week and a half, and it’s been so unique and un-orchestrated by me (control much?) that I know it’s of Him. He’s convicted me that I need to discard all my excuses that currently ride daily, hourly, on the merry-go-round in my brain and instead become the woman He created me to be, totally and completely. Writing is my passion and encouraging other women in their faith walk is my goal, and I’ve finally cleared enough floor space in my excuse-filled mind to proclaim the desire that He’s put on my heart and the way He has made that heart beat. I’ve always thought, “I’m too busy, don’t write well enough, don’t have an audience, can’t make a difference…” and we all know how those excuse lists go on and on. But no more. I’ve stopped excusing and started declaring.
And while I’m far from having any or all of the answers, the more I look to Him to help me figure out how this is gonna go the more He unfolds before me. It comes just one day, one step at a time. I love what you said about the straight path of His plan – I am experiencing that and He makes the walking easier when you’re following Him.
Sarah Geringer says
Thank you for sharing your lesson learned from sorting through childhood mementos. So many of us can learn valuable lessons from today by having the courage to look into the past.
Hi Stephanie. Appreciated your words and sharing your spiritual gift. When you mentioned that God was using flashbacks to make His case to you, I could relate. Yesterday before bed, I was recalling to my husband a sweet memory where God granted me my heart’s desire. Each year, my primary school held an “Olympics Day.” All the younger kids (kindergarten-grades 4) were participants, but once you reached grades 5 & 6, there was an opportunity to be a leader (co-captain & captain). Now, I have never considered myself a leader, but I wanted so badly to be co-captain (helped the Captain lead the team of younger kids). I worked really hard (homeroom teacher’s choice based on academics) and the day came for her choice. It fell to myself and another girl. We had tied for first place, so our teacher put both of our names into a bowl. I had wanted this since kindergarten and I prayed to God fervently “Please God, this means so much to me. I will do You proud and take good care of the kids. Please let her choose my name from the hat.”When she announced my name, I was over the moon with joy and thanked God for the gift of being co-captain. It had been my heart’s desire and God in His amazing love for me, fulfilled that wish. It brings a few tears, every time I recall that flashback moment. We all have been given gifts, but I never thought of encouragement or courage as spiritual gifts, but I believe they have been given to me by the Holy Spirit.
I never saw the word courage right in the middle of encouragement. I love to encourage others and especially like the idea that courage is in the middle of my gift — it makes me want to take bigger steps to bless and encourage others. Thanks for helping me see that this morning!
Thank you for sharing…. In all honestly, I have been wrestling with God about things He is calling me to do. I have found myself time and time again praying for courage. I want to do and move not just think about or leave it as a one day “I will”. I know that only in Him can I do and if he is calling then I can move. Courage……
Ms. Witi says
This is so timely…just last night I told my husband I wanted to clean every thing out. (He is more the pack rat than I) I (we) have stuff stored that we never look at or use. He says it’s for the ONE DAY he may need to use it. After 7 years if it hasn’t happened I think we can let go but sadly no. (ha!)
So curious….did you toss most of the boxes after looking through them? We have boxes and boxes of old photos (from his parents when they passed) my husband doesn’t know most of them but we hold on to them just because. I am thinking its “just because” he can’t REALLY say goodbye?
Beth Williams says
Your husband sounds just like my father-in-law. He won’t get rid of anything, and keeps buying more and more stuff to store in his house. He has so many items half the time he can’t find what he wants because of all the other “stuff there”!
Beth Williams says
God has called me to a time of patience. You see I am not a patient person. Instead I’m hyperactive wanting to get things done quickly and move on. But in this season of life I quit my job and help with the care of my aging father. I visit him three days a week for about 3-4 hours at a time. It is hard as he has dementia, sundowner’s and can’t hear at all, won’t wear his hearing aid. I write out all my messages to him in hopes he can remember who is who and who lives where. He keeps misplacing items, so I try to find them for him.