Two years and one job ago.
I sat across from the man I love on the bed we’ve loved in since we were first married ten years before. I sat and smacked fist into palm and said it again and again and again, “But this can’t be what I’m supposed to do with my life.”
And there it was – the old frustration that stuck in the back of my throat and that I hadn’t been able to swallow down for two long years. Two years of two-hour commutes and long hours at the office and away from my kids. Away doing work that didn’t fit the me that lived inside my frustration; long hours aching with the wanting to be doing something else.
But I didn’t know what it was.
I just knew that there was something else. And it started with wanting to be able to encourage women.
So I sat across from the man who’s known me and loved me since that night we played baseball on the national mall and then walked the long way home back to 8th street. He was as patient with me then as he is now.
He spoke to me of callings. He reminded me that every ounce of frustration I felt was part of what helped me translate my story into one that other women could relate to. And he told me that it was these broken, hard parts I was living that would feed my words.
I watched him in the glow of the two yellow bedside lamps and saw that he heard me. He got what it felt like to not be doing the something I thought I was made to do. But he showed me that without this struggle I wouldn’t be able to encourage women the way I felt called to. Without fighting the balance of motherhood and work and self and calling and commutes I wouldn’t understand where many other women need encouragement.
I spent a long time thinking about this. And months later I wrote about it to my friend, Holley:
So, I have been thinking about you today because I am at a conference discussing some groundbreaking work to bring justice to the poor and afflicted. For many years that is the kind of work I have been involved in also. But, I have consistently felt this call on my heart to speak into the lives of women. Young mothers and wives who feel that what they do isn’t important.
I don’t know many who would consider that a needy population group. But I sure do. I am them.
So, I blog. I write my heart out to this beautiful audience who need to be encouraged as I wish someone had done for me. Because young mothers and struggling women have great needs too. And while it’s not my job, it is my delight to be used by God to be part of the plan for meeting them.
I wrote it at 1am and I found that putting those words down filled me up – with joy, with purpose, but mostly with relief. My story is useful to others because of the frustration I’ve juggled. My story can encourage because I know how it feels to feel unimportant. My story translates the stories of many other women because it is so seemingly ordinary.
This thing – this something else – that I had been waiting for? Turned out it had been unfolding in my life all along. Right there in the commuter lane, in between making school snack packs and tucking kids into bed I’d been finding my voice.
And when I write about my every day ordinary mess, I am connected to the women I so desperately want to encourage. The women I want to wrap arms around and laugh with and say, “You’re doing far more than just OK, sister.”
God has made a way for me through the frustration and into the nooks and crannies of other people’s stories. It has grown from my passion into my job. I can lay myself down right where I am, word by word, plank by plank, and build a bridge that connects us.
And you? You who fume and flail and question the now that you’re living? Maybe we have this frustratingly perfect route in common.
Perhaps what is hardest about where you are right now will end up being the wood and nails and words that connect us.
Write it down. Build the bridge.
That many might walk across.
Tomorrow I will share more about what my bridge looks like, but today – what about yours? What are the hard wood and nails you have to work with? It’s OK to be frustrated with them.