“I feel so vulnerable,” I said to my spiritual director on the day I clicked publish. “Even though I sense from God and others that my writing is significant, something in me feels the risk of putting it out there to be judged. A part of me is on guard for the next disappointing response.”
In the silence, an image came to mind. I see that part of me as a little girl looking out the window, watching for who might hurt me now. As I stayed present there, Jesus came. I thought he would lead me away from the window, but he didn’t. He put his arm around my shoulders and stayed with me there.
“It’s not like I have much of a choice. I can’t imagine myself not putting into words what I experience.” As I said that, tears fell, and a huge lump hardened in my throat. My director asked me about that, and I told her the story of A Home for Everyone.
“Years ago, I was at Rivendell Retreat Centre and, in their five o’clock community prayer time, we were invited to share our hopes. I said, ‘A home for everyone,’ and suddenly a felt this huge lump in my throat. A sob rose up in me and ached in my throat. It was so strong that I wept and wept. Eventually, I understood that the sob came from God’s heart in mine. God wants a home for everyone. I think that story came to mind because God wants me to know that my writing leads them there.”
That thought wouldn’t have been safe to say in many places. But here, in this sacred space, these words could be said aloud and believed.
As I welcomed that thought, another memory came to mind. My younger brother and I were preschoolers in Sunday School. When the pianist began to play and the children started to sing, I recalled my parents dancing the night before. So, I grabbed my little brother’s hands and led him in a partner dance. We quickly discovered that wasn’t appropriate, but I don’t remember being scolded. I remember being fearless.
“I see a younger me now sitting by the window with Jesus. She’s not looking for people who might scold her. She’s looking for anyone who wants to come home,” I said to my attentive listener.
I biked home from that spiritual direction session with two beautiful invitations: to be tender with the little girl in me that’s afraid of rejection and to set free the younger one that wants to dance and believes everyone else does too.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)
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In a pocket of fearlessness, I wrote and recorded Ride Your Dreams, an album of children’s songs, for my kids and the other children I taught in Sunday School. Back in the early nineties, most of the music available for children’s spiritual formation focused on trying to get them to be good. I wanted them to know they were loved. As I wrote this post, a song from that album came to mind–a song called Dance.