Stories on the edge of familiarity

World Tour, Day 11: Brunch and the Hill of Apples

The view from the church parking lot

In the morning, Teddi and I went to her church’s women’s brunch, which she leads. (That picture is the view from the church parking lot.) At one point, Teddi asked me if I had any thoughts I could give on what they were talking about. Based on the conversations we’d been having, she knew I probably had something to say that would be helpful. I did have something.

I am humbled every time I find I have something important to give. When it happens, it’s never something I have that originated from me. It’s always something I have received and am passing on to others. And, in a more emotional sense, it never really comes from me. It comes through me in a way that it could come through anyone. It just so happens that I’m the one giving in that moment.

Most of what I’ve surrounded myself with online is about us (entrepreneurs, artists, writers) finding what it is that we have to offer the world. Finding our message.

I have never been more unhappy than when trying to come up with something that I add to the world that wasn’t there before.

And I have never been more full of joy than when I bring to others life that God has brought to me – whether he has done that through others, the Bible, or when we talk.

Even the ways I do it aren’t ways I’ve created. Because that’s another perspective on discovering your “unique value” that you offer to the world – how you do it is your secret sauce, what makes you special. How I do things is not something I made. It’s something that God made when he made me, and I use it.

Yes, I am unique, but not because I have made myself unique.

Yes, I have agency, but that agency is how I walk in or out of who I am in Christ.

There are people who say to trust yourself above all others, to take care of yourself because no one is going to do it for you.

I can’t do that without falling into anxiety and getting mired in the darkness of self-doubt. I end up carrying the weight of my whole life on my shoulders, the responsibility for creating my whole future from nothing with nothing but what I alone have.

I do not have the strength to bear that without breaking. I don’t think anyone on Earth does.

So here I am taking off that burden and laying it at God’s feet.

Because I’m tired of taking the credit for what he’s done. The Illuminated Heart? That’s a song to the freedom he gave me from depression. Dreaming of Her and Other Stories? It’s full of words he gave me and my meditations on them. Hidden in Sealskin and Like Mist Over the Eyes? God gave me the major plot points later in the series that get right to the heart of what this story is about. The Tree Remembers? He told me to give it that title, and he brought me to everything I needed to write it and end it the way it was supposed to end.

God designed my business card.

I’m utterly serious.

I had a completely different idea for it, when he poked me and said: “Make it blue, and write this on the front, this on the back.” Unfortunately, I didn’t write any of that down, so I didn’t get it to exactly what he’d said for the front, and I had to tweak even that a bit so it would fit in the space I had, but I still didn’t design that card. God did. I haven’t a clue how to make a card that makes people light up the way they do when they read mine, and I thank God for bringing them that joy every time I see them smile.

Here’s the front of it:

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Here’s the back:

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What’s my point? You don’t have to be the source of what you offer the world.

It’s probably best that you aren’t.

Because the freedom that comes when you speak the words God gives you to say and do the things he leads you to do is… I don’t even know how to describe it. You can’t create it for yourself – trust me, I’ve tried, and I only made things worse for myself – but you can enjoy it in all its fullness. It’s like picking and eating fruit from trees you didn’t plant, water, or fertilize, and yet all the fruit those trees bear is yours.

So let’s eat.

P.S. Speaking of eating tree fruit, I went to Apple Hill today as well, which is an area where there are a whole bunch of apple farms. There were a whole lot of apples and apple-related edible things, and a lot of the farms also had cool fun things to do that are aimed towards kids, like the corn maze we went through at one farm (Teddi’s kids and her sister’s kids loved it), and a petting zoo at another. So, yes, I did a touristy-type thing today, too, and even got a picture of this goat:

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…but the most meaningful part of today really was the women’s brunch, connecting with them, and praying with them. I’m very glad Teddi invited me. :)

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