A secret to getting me to actually participate in a writing / journaling prompt: Call me out on how I helped up come up with it.
I am a writer more than a poet. I am a journaler even more than a writer. So this one was a great journaling prompt for me this weekend and last night as I stopped overthinking this and let it flow. So … without further ado… here’s what I came up with when I allowed myself to journal through this for 15 minutes, no editing allowed – not even now while adding it into the computer.
When I was little, I envied the kids who could draw. They had this way with visuals that I was never good at. I wrote. I used words to draw pictures. I could never figure out how to draw or develop great visuals for people without using words.
As I matured, I realized that with my words, I drew more lines than most artists did.
- “I will never have children. There is no reason to bring them into a world like this.”
- “I will never get married. There is no way anyone will love me after all I’ve done and been through.”
- “I will never get what I want out of life. I can’t even get through class.”
Growing up the nevers came so easily. I was so used to hearing what I would never do or be from others around me that it seemed only natural that I would limit myself just as they were limiting me.
- “You will never be any good for anybody.”
- “You will never be loved by anyone. Men don’t fall in love with girls like you. They sleep with you and then bring home the girl next door. Don’t be mad about it. Embrace it.”
- “You will never amount to anything. You’ll always be who you are.”
Fast forward to adulthood and getting married to someone who allowed all the nevers to prety After the divorce though, I was pretty sure that everything everyone had ever said was right. I worked really hard to prove to them it wasn’t, only to burn myself out because striving is worse than drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die as they say you do when you don’t forgive. No, striving is more like running head-on into traffic and knowing you are going to get hit but hoping all those years of playing Frogger will help you at least make it a few levels before you end up roadkill.
And striving is what I did. For years. 10 years if I am honest with myself. Somewhere in 2018 is when I finally said enough of this crap…time to stop drawing so many lines and time to start living life on my terms.
I was tired of wondering how to be great at everything and decided I was just going to be me…whether she was phenomenal, average, or somewhere in between, I figured it would be better to be ME than to keep striving to be who everyone else thought I should be. And something crazy happened… the lines began connecting instead of dividing… I suddenly had friends who saw my future despite my past and present. I was meeting people I had looked up to for years. I was sitting in auditoriums I didn’t belong in and having conversations at tables I didn’t belong sitting at. I was able to find the AND in life instead of believing it has to be OR.
I get scared somedays with so much possibility because I’ve learned how to live outside of the lines, even these self-imposed ones. I have stopped categorizing people the moment I meet them. Stopped compartmentalizing my life. Stopped believing that life had to look a certain way because of my plans. I’ve realized that so much happens outside of the lines I’ve drawn and that there is a world beyond my best imagination and expectation for what tomorrow may look like.
I don’t know if I will ever be married again or have a career where I make the money I’d love to make so I can live on the beach in San Diego. I don’t know if my faith will take me places my feet can walk or if my words will open doors my mind never could. I don’t know if I will earn mother of the year or be charged with rightfully raising daydreamers. But I know this…
I don’t need to be a great artist because I am going cross lines not draw them.
As I wrapped up the writing and allowed myself to read it back and reflect on it last night, this song came on my playlist:
Casting Crowns is one of my favorite bands and this is one of my favorite songs by them. I love the chorus where it says:
Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of thieves
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
No one knows what we’re for only against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did
I never wanted to be the Christian who can’t cross lines. The one who sat in my home and judged others for how they lived and what they weren’t getting right. I wanted to love beyond myself and share this hope that I received at 17 while pregnant and so alone. I wanted for people to learn about God and experience His love beyond what church taught and in that secret place where you can talk with Him about what’s going on. As I sat and listened to the song, sang at the top of my lungs (sorry not sorry to my neighbors), I realized that in my own life I have drawn so many lines around myself and through my life but never did the same to those around me. I always gave grace and forgiveness to the people around me and believed them to be better than they were even when they showed me otherwise (sorry Maya… I’ve never been good at following advice that meant limiting people).
This was a fun prompt for me that has led to me realizing how much freedom I have on this side of allowing myself to live fully in the moment instead of planning every detail. It will be interesting to see what the next 10 years bring!
Until next time,