Ways Along the Way

When I was in kindergarten, we lived just a few blocks from the school. Every morning, after filling my little belly with rolled eggs (the rest of the world calls them omelets) and taming my thick hair into a top-knot ponytail, my mom would load my sister and me into…the bugger.

Yes. The bugger.

It was an odd contraption, even then. Made of a huge chunk of black plastic and supported by two wheels, the bugger was a sort of “kid trailer” my parents pulled behind their bicycles.

Ignore all of the other things that summon your attention in that picture and focus in on the bugger. Now imagine me – the brunette in the cute little hat – clutching a pink backpack with multicolored pencils patterned all over it. That’s how we rode off to school every morning, and how my mom and younger sister would greet me immediately after school each afternoon.  I would bound out of the building, ready to go, and would climb into the bugger for the ride home.

The plan was quite streamlined before long, but on the first day of school – my very first day of school, ever – things did not go as planned.

As school was dismissed that first day, I piled out of the school, my teacher leading my classmates and I toward the school bus loading area like a mother duck taking her ducklings out for a walk. I don’t remember the progression of events, but I remember clearly the teachers insisting that yes, this was the bus that would get me home and that yes, this was how it was going to be.

Up, up, up the huge bus steps they boosted me, my silent protests – the panicked eyes, the shaking of my head “no” – doing nothing against the instructions of the teacher I had been taught and reminded to obey.  And I remember the view from inside that hot, sweaty, noisy school bus: I, five years old and small for my age, standing in the aisle, refusing to move toward a seat.  Older kids pushing from behind, ready to go home as the novelty of school had already become stale to them. My teacher, so small through the bus window, moving on to the next child, not concerned with my plight. And then…my mom.  And my sister.  And the bugger.

Through the sea of children and teachers, I saw my mom waving her arms and running toward the bus. Again, my memory of the exact event is fuzzy, but I remember stepping back off the bus into my mom’s waiting arms, shaking and crying, terrified at what had and what had almost happened.

I had known where I was supposed to be going: home.  I had known how I was supposed to get there: with my mom.  But before I ever had the chance to think about what was happening, I was swept away in the plans someone else had for me.  I never once protested or stated my case to the contrary.  I never once spoke up for myself.  I never once stood my ground.

And today, as I watch children go back to school and I anticipate sending my own girl off to kindergarten in a year, I realize that I haven’t changed in so many ways. Yes, I watch the progression of events from the vantage point of the mama, and yes, I am considerably older and more experienced now. But in the way I handle my goals and dreams and plans for my life, I still too greatly resemble that timid five year-old girl standing in the aisle of a school bus.

I am too quick to let go of what I think, in favor of the ideas of someone who speaks louder and with more authority.

I am too easily persuaded off my own path, craving instead the approval and acceptance of those who seem to know more than I do.

This blog of mine….I know what I want it to be.  And my speaking career….I know what I would love for it to become.  And while I am not totally sure how to get there, I do know what feels right for me.  I know what works.  I know what gels with my personality and my makeup and my gifts.  But if someone with more experience/authority/followers has a suggestion for me, I take it and run as though they had just offered the one and only key to the Kingdom of Writing and Speaking Awesomeness.  (That’s a thing.  It is.)

So over the next few months, I’m going to be really doing some goal setting.  Some dreaming.  Some vision casting.  I know what is on my heart to do with my little corner of the internet, but I am not entirely sure how to get there.  Because I’m even the slightest bit unsure as to how to go about this, it frightens me to realize how quickly I may hop onto a bus headed in the right direction but taking a route that is nothing like what I intended.

Some of this will involve reading.  Some of it will surely happen in October at the Allume conference.  Some of it will involve writing exercises and, probably, some of the more unglamorous parts of this calling.  Some of it will certainly involve drawing nearer and nearer to the God who gave me this vision in the first place.  I don’t know quite what this is going to look like (and like the bugger it may, at times, look weird to those not on the ride with me).  But what I know is this: the way I’ve been doing this writing/blogging/speaking thing hasn’t been working very well, and it is time to try a different route.  I just have to trust that whatever the journey looks like, the Lord will get me where He wants me to go if I stick with Him along the way.

Linking today with #TellHisStory at jenniferdukeslee.com.

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