Last summer my dear husband suggested I submit my writing samples about my faith journey to our newspaper the Kansas City Star. They would be choosing 13 individuals from the community to write articles about their faith journey. I submitted my story and a writing sample, and I was chosen! I had the honor of writing four articles over the course of the year. My last article ran on Saturday (Faith Journey). Below is my original draft for that article and I thought it might speak to some of you as well.
I am a Southerner and before moving to Kansas City was director of a small non-profit. We had embarked on a strategic plan, and the consultant, a native New Yorker, said to me, “You know you are a New Yorker trapped in Southern woman’s body?” Of course, my sharp tongue quickly quipped, “Why, because I’m direct?” We both laughed, and I still laugh about it, but that observation really is a bit of a window into who I am.
That observation is why for the better part of my 50 years, I’ve been telling God that He messed up. I’ve told Him that maybe we could try a do-over. I’ve tried negotiating. Yep, me telling the creator of the universe that He messed up. Not surprising coming from someone who tries to manage everything in my own universe. One of my graduate school professors said I was an “environmental manager: I like to manage everything in my universe!” In my opinion, the premise of God’s mistake is that frequently, I would rather be the quiet “little lady” who doesn’t speak up for social injustice and who isn’t so outspoken. God’s response has always been the same. He has had to be creative in getting my attention but like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” He gently reminds me that He is the Great I am. He reminds me that I do indeed need to pay a lot more attention to His words about that sharp tongue. Then, He gives me memories and reminders about the perfectness of His creation. Like remembering a missions experience when I spent the summer with emotionally disturbed girls, who just needed a young college girl to be there for them. Then, I find a card from one of my 4-H kids. She lived in the inner city and had a lot of bad circumstances surrounding her. Her card said, “Thank you for believing in me when no one else did.” He reminds me of Thomas. When I was volunteer manager for an organization serving abused, neglected and disturbed youth, I found a mentor for him. Thomas was only nine but his mom had tried to run him down in her car after she killed his dad. He saw it all. God reminds me that it isn’t only my own daughter who needs an advocate. There are thousands of people with Down syndrome disabilities who need someone to be their voice. “Guess what?” He says to me, “I, the God of the universe, have given you some skills that help to do just that. I have given YOU the privilege of being their voice.” He reminds me, “If not you then who Jawanda?”
God has made it clear to me that we all must answer to His call, BUT He gave us all different gifts for our answer. Just like all children, I want for the gifts someone else has. I will continue to barter with God and someone else will long for my gift of candor.
Still, He’ll need to keep on reminding me as I hang onto my insecurities about who I am. He knows those very insecurities keep me centered and looking to Him, because He knows that I am the strong-willed girl who doesn’t want help and can do it all on her own. Without the extra measure of humble pie, I would never look to Him for help or guidance. He knows that above all my heart’s desire is for all who come behind me to find me faithful and through me, to see Him. He knows because He created me to be exactly who I am and made to fulfill His purpose.” (Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.)