I can’t help but wonder if perhaps Ben understands better than I do. When we pull aside the curtain of privilege and systematic discrimination, surely we will find the light. Light that offers challenging self-examination, light that offers hope, and light that offers healing, but not until we admit that we have been hiding behind curtains.
Elisabeth and I talk a lot about being women entrepreneurs. We talk about the stress of trying to secure work each month in order to pay the bills. We celebrate the good times, and we allow each other the space and grace to share the times we mess up and give up.
More than anything, we provide each other the permission to be ourselves.
Creating something new and different, something that is your own is unnerving to a lot of people. It makes them wonder and question how you spend your time. It makes them challenge you and try to doubt yourself because it’s so different and unusual.
But here’s the thing. No matter what anyone else says to you or about you, you have the deciding power to let it dictate who you are and how you see yourself. When we do take on those names and labels that other people try to put on us, we are giving up our voice to decide who we are. No one really gets to decide who we are except the voice inside of us.
Sometimes you need permission to be yourself. Sometimes you need permission to do the things that center you, that remind you of who you are, what you believe in, and the people who are important to you. Sometimes you need permission to say, “I am a good writer. I am a good pastor. I am a good partner. I am a good mom. I am a good sister. I am a good brother. I am a good dad.”
You have my permission to chose one of these statements and wear it instead of whatever label other people have tried to put on you.
One of my favorite parts of being the Editor-in-Chief at Harrelson Press is conferecing. I know that many authors and have worked with many authors for whom this is not try. They would much rather be huddled at their computer making stories and characters come alive, but for me, the one who gets to edit those stories and transform them into books, the best part of the publishing process is sharing the wonderful stories I receive with other people.
This week I am Dallas and am anxious to share Stacy Sergent’s book Being Called Chaplain with a national audience. She writes about the difficulty of residency and the strains of finding your faith as a chaplain. I think she thought that her audience would be mainly chaplains, but what has been so incredible for me to watch as her publisher is the way her story of trying to find and maintain her faith in the midst of life transcends the walls of the hospital to being relevant to anyone who is trying to find his or her faith in the midst of life.
It’s not easy when we encounter tragedy and pain to believe in God, especially when that tragedy and pain is so close to our own hearts. Stacy’s honest reflection and struggle demonstrate that it’s still possible, and it’s still worth the wrestling.
Read it and believe again. And if you’re going to be in Dallas, come find her at the Chaplain’s breakfast at the CBF General Assembly!
May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you really can make a difference in this world,
so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.