If I had to guess, summer of 1989 is when I became starkly aware of what I didn’t have but my friends did. My best neighborhood friends, Michelle and Katie were playing Barbies together and listening to mix tapes of Debbie Gibson. I was not invited. The cold reality of staring at my white walls and stuffed animals alone while they giggled, twirled Peaches and Cream Barbie, and most likely (not) talked about how fun they were and how not fun Ann is, was all more than my blonde pigtails could handle.
Seriously though, how fun is her twirly skirt?
I wanted to be included with my good friends, yes, but more so, I wanted something they had and I did not. I wanted the fun, the cool toys, the fitting in, not my boring books and nap time. Desperation sunk in my stomach as I realized I would have to do something drastic to get what I thought I needed.
Could I possibly lie to my mom and tell her I left something at Michelle’s? Then just show up in her basement window and force my friendship to work? I stared down the beige tangled cord hanging from the kitchen wall in silent bewilderment and tension. Why was that darn thing not ringing with shrieks of invitation? Why was I so zeroed in on something I didn’t have? Why was a young girl in the prime of her summer not eating purple popsicles but instead worrying about what others had? Even if I had been in that cool and dark basement with my gal pals, I would feel empty and maybe even sad. Somehow these “dreams” we have for ourselves never are as grandiose as we think. That didn’t stop me from wanting wanting wanting.
My energy was zapped. Hot tears ran down my face and I remember begging with God to give me more than what I had that afternoon. Surely, He would understand. I was a deep kid. Only children have lots of imaginary friends and time to think.
Today, I don’t crave Peaches and Cream Barbie. I’m happy to say I recovered from that traumatic Debbie Gibson-less summer afternoon. My friendships survived, I chose to not lie, and I was, I’m sure all turned around after a nap, some lunch, and possible a grape freeze treat. But something still lingers from that June day in the 80’s (happy to report it’s not crimped bangs).
Okay, let’s get real: linger is an understatement (of the
year decade). There is a constant companion of comparison and want.
Don’t you see it in your life too? Boy, I sure feel it each day and have through nearly every season of my life. When I was in high school I drove a 1978 Pontiac Bonneville. I’ll let you research that one. I couldn’t stay out past 10:30 and didn’t shop at the Limited or Express. There was no getting Mom’s credit card. But I did get humility, modesty, and a chance to focus on my tennis skills and grow my love for teaching and serving others through volunteering. I was learning to play in my court.
In college, I didn’t attend annual spring break Cancun drink fests. My wallet didn’t house Dad’s unlimited gas cards, or even know what I wanted to major in like “all” my friends. I couldn’t afford to go out to eat all the time and I felt held back by not having a steady boy friend, who I was sure to marry 3 weeks after graduation. I did have enough struggle to keep me grounded, work to practice the art of discipline, and courage to chase after and cry over what I thought I was passionate about. I learned to cry out to God.
Today, I wish I could tell you I was twirling bravely and steadily in this mothering, new writer, and wife groove. Today, however, I am still contemplating my near break down of last week at my first professional speaker/writer conference. She Speaks 2015 was last Thursday through Saturday. “Ann Stritt compare-yourself-to all-the-other-writers and speakers 2015″ was roughly one week prior to and through day one of the conference. Why do we do this to ourselves? Hadn’t I learned this lesson back in the Summer of ’89? Was my record really still playing the same tune? Apparently, I’m a sucker for self-pity. That was until, the Holy Spirit got a hold of my heart instead of the lies.
Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil’s evil plans. Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world. -Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIRV)
“You don’t even have a blog up yet (true story, this is post #2)”- Defeating talk
“You aren’t really a writer. Look at those women with their high heels and manuscripts.”
“Why would you come when you haven’t even blogged? What do you have to offer?”
“These women have so much more bible knowledge. I still use my tabs to find my place! What the heck, do they read in Greek, too?”
“Did I pack underwear?” (not writing related but “adulting” is hard)
“Sweet “business cards,” Ann. For real, why did you not do those earlier?!”
You can see where this was headed. No underwear crying mess in the lobby. My energy zapped. I’ve been here before. Thankfully, Jesus, fresh clothes (and undergarments), and a clean shower grabbed hold of me and reminded me of some critical truths.
It’s as if the Lord took a seat on that marble bathroom counter and whispered:
“You are a child of God. I created you fearfully and wonderfully. Remember that whole verse you hung on your son’s wall? Yeah, it applies to you too, sister. I want your heart not your credentials. I want you on your knees and then you can touch the sky. Yes, I want you bold. But, first, I want you sold-out-for me. This is not about “YOUR ministry” or “YOUR sweet writing and speaking (ahem, that I gave you). And, Heavens, child! (sometimes Jesus speaks as a sweet southern African American lady in my mind) Your business cards are pitiful. And for the love, if you are a writer, WRITE! But, this is all minor. Now, GO! Learn from me. Love on others (I created them, as well, aren’t they beautiful?). Ann, “Seek me first! I will take care of the details.”
We all have gifts. They differ in keeping with the grace that God has given each of us. Do you have the gift of prophecy? Then use it in keeping with the faith you have. Is it your gift to serve? Then serve. Is it teaching? Then teach. Is it telling others how they should live? Then tell them. Is it giving to those who are in need? Then give freely. Is it being a leader? Then work hard at it. Is it showing mercy? Then do it cheerfully. -Romans 12:6-8 (NIrV)
It was as if Jesus was saying, as He has been all along, “Girl, Twirl in Your Lane.” I will figure out the rest. Just run your race. So, I did. And you know what? I met 700 other beautiful women. All twirling. Some twirling their curled hair, skirts, and some pens. And when I got to my seat, this verse, unlike anyone else’s, was placed for just me:
And there it was right in front of me this whole time. Turns out that tangled beige corded phone has been ringing all these years with shrieks of welcomed invitation. I just had to answer the call on my own life.
Now, off to those cards….