Sweet Vanessa

I keep telling myself that I will do it differently if I get the chance. If He repairs what’s broken and redeems what’s lost, I promise not to lose my temper. I promise to show more grace. I promise to not just love loudly but love selflessly. I cried again into my pillows tonight and screeched out “Please Lord!”

I ask Him why He won’t answer. I ask Him, like the Psalmist did, “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” 

And it hits me right then as more tears squeeze out that I wouldn’t do it differently – because I’m not doing it differently now!
For four years I prayed for this ministry, the ministry of being a mama, and so much of my day goes squandered to self. I would’ve sworn as I prayed for those four years that if given the chance I would not just love loudly, but selflessly… am I?

Now I have it.
And I’m not.

I prayed for ten years to have space to write. A day that wasn’t clocking in to an office and clocking out with just enough energy to crash into bed. A season with enough margin to take what I’m seeing through His gifted lens of story and put it on paper. I begged and pleaded, assuring Him that if given the kind of unique situation where I could work my job around writing, I would write with the discipline of a decathlete.

Now I have it.
And I’m not.

I feel guilty if I don’t write and I feel icky if I’m writing without feeling Spirit-led. And if I actually hit the sweet spot of writing without guilt or anxiety, what should feel so good – putting pen to paper to honor Him – feels heavy and hard because I’m writing a book about heartbreak for God’s sake! (Maybe I should just starting writing kids books about unicorns.)

What makes me think for a moment that I would love the love of my life any differently if given a second chance?
I always have the best of intentions, the highest of hopes, and the most grandiose of expectations for if, then, and when _________ but what about the just doing it now?

The putting all the laundry away so my ‘daughters’ can sit on the couch and talk to me about their heart? The pursuing others even when my everything’s tired and my calendar is full? The sitting down to write trusting that the discipline of doing so honors the Lord no matter if the words that come out aren’t perfect?

Last night my brother and his beautiful girlfriend surprised me with a date to the roller-rink. I felt a panic rise up into my ruddy cheeks as we laced up our skates. As I hobbled awkwardly around in slow circles, I could feel the lump in my throat getting fat. I actually started to cry a tiny bit. Why? Because in elementary school I cried at the roller rink every single time our class went. Because no one ever held my hand during the couples skate, ever. Because we couldn’t afford the fancy roller blades the other kids in my class had. Because I sat alone and ate nachos with my glasses pushed up high and my crooked teeth and my bad perm and my homemade clothes and I knew that no one would’ve noticed if I wasn’t there, but they sure did notice how terrible of a skater I was – the chubby girl who couldn’t glide around on long legs like Betsy and Natasha did. So I would sit with the nachos and cry until my mom picked me up and I would make a vow in my head never to go again.
Thirty-two year old me felt the same way, except worse. This time I had seven-year-olds flying by and every insecurity I’ve pretended never existed pulsed like the blaring hip-hop playlist.

I sat down on a bench and through the crowd, a little tubby ten year old named Vanessa came over with her ‘skating helper’, an aid made out of PVC pipe and wheels that lets you skate without falling over. I googled it. “Suggested for kids ages 6-8.”

“Would you like to borrow this? It helps you skate and not be scared. I am going to try to skate on my own for a little bit, so you can use it if you want. Do you want to?” she asked in a quiet lisp.

“Oh that’s so sweet of you! Thank you honey, but I’m okay.”

“Are you sure? I think you need it.”

Great. I had a ten year old telling me I needed her help.

She left me alone. For five minutes. And then she tried offering it to me again:

“My mom said it was okay if you used this. Maybe you should. Just for a little bit?”

She asked me three times before I said I would. I hunched over (Never has 5’4″ felt so tall) and in front of a packed-out rink of smooth swans, I hobbled a little bit faster in tiny circles. Vanessa cheered me on. I tried not to look directly at my brother as he held his girlfriend’s hand while they lapped by. A guy in leather pants (Really man, really?) whizzed by me and just said “Awwww nah girl, no no no no.” I kept my eyes on the hardwood.

Sweet Vanessa and I traded off a half a dozen times and after an hour I could skate twenty feet or so without holding on to the wall! I was doing it! No need for a nacho break or tears, I had a new pal and the teensiest tiniest flame of confidence.

All because I just did it. Pride be damned, I took the ten year old’s advice (and her Skating Helper) and just did it. I didn’t waste the love that surprised me with a Friday night date, I didn’t let the hurts and fears of ten year old me win. But I didn’t do it alone. If Vanessa hadn’t boldly come over to help an awkward grown-up with tears in her eyes while all the “cool kids” (Leather Pants Guy not included) crowded the rink I wouldn’t have done it at all.

So, there’s the just-doing-it that needs done, but there’s also the letting-others-help. When they ask if you need it, say yes. Most people won’t ask three times like sweet Vanessa.

The truth is that I’ll never do it differently then or if or when ______ if I’m not doing it differently NOW.  And neither will you. It won’t be easier in the morning. Or next week. Or next year. Or after that holiday bonus. Or once the snow melts. Or when the kids are in all-day kindergarten.

There might be valid fears and legitimate worries and scary past experiences that are buckling your knees and keeping you from doing, but they don’t have to win. What is the looming “it” that you’re avoiding? What timid steps forward can you take now and how can we all be a little more like Vanessa?

A friend called today after leaving a nationwide women’s ministry conference and told me that God was planting seeds for a dream so big it overwhelmed her. So I suggested she buy a blank journal and sometime soon we sit and sip tea and she can dream and I can write. That got me thinking… what are other ways I can just do that don’t overwhelm me? One sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time.

Because if we can live beautifully now, live a redeemed story now, live a life not wasted now – then we will innately find our souls whispering the same as Paul did while in prison: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

So let’s learn by doing, and let’s DO contentment! Let’s do living! Let’s do the thing(s) we’re afraid of but feel deep in our souls! We’ll need a strength that comes from God himself, and he’s at the ready to give it. He’s a tubby little ten year old saying “I see your need, and I want to help.”

Let’s do it differently now, ok?
C’mon friends… let’s put our skates on.

2 Responses

  1. Another gem sister!

    Well done

    On Sun, Feb 7, 2016 at 2:32 AM, Wittersons Weblog wrote:

    > witterson posted: “I keep telling myself that I will do it differently if > I get the chance. If He repairs what’s broken and redeems what’s lost, I > promise not to lose my temper. I promise to show more grace. I promise to > not just love loudly but love selflessly. I cried aga” >

  2. Kate,
    I don’t know what led me to your blog this morning but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for being so courageous and willing to bare your soul for the edification of others, which is a huge act of selflessness and bravery in its own right. It’s inspirational, it’s challenging, it’s beautiful, and it’s exactly the message God had for me to hear today. Don’t stop writing, ever.

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