In my process of writing recently the question arose, “do I really want to write a memoir and expose myself bare to the world? Do I really want everyone to have access to some of these things from my past, some things in my life that I’m not proud of, mistakes, my lowest moments?”
I’ve thought of this at times before, and my response has always remained that it’s not about me it’s about God. That I can’t worry about what people will think of me, or what I have to offer through writing a book…. it’s more about what God can do through my story, what God has done in my life. It’s His story, not mine. He’s the author of my life, and I’ve prayed for him to be the real author of any book I write.
If I really believe the whole meaning of life is about our relationship with God, pointing to Him, and furthering His Kingdom, then I have an obligation to shout from the rooftops the level of redemption He has lifted me to and the depths from which He rescued me, despite the future haters or negative criticism I may receive. If I’m just honest about my journey, then anyone who discovers the intricacies and the details of the darkness, and thinks poorly of me for it, then it will be their regret, not mine. All I can do is pray that if I am able to get my memoir published, that He uses it for good, and forbids evil from twisting its purpose. If it sells 5 copies, and is a total fail, but one of those 5 is a life altered and given a renewed sense of hope, then it will all be worth it.
This is what I believe, and yet the other day I still asked God for confirmation. It’s been on my heart for 8 years to write a book, a dream that was always lingering in the background and never went away, one I always felt purpose in. And yet I asked again, “God, is this what I’m supposed to do? I just don’t want to regret, some day down the line, exposing private details about myself. I want to know for sure that You are supporting me here.”
I told God that despite my beliefs about this all along that maybe if He just gave me an undeniable sign, then I can dispel any sliver of questioning the unknown, and not have to wonder. I was in my car driving through wooded area headed to the interstate on my way to work. My mind slipped back a few years ago for a split second, where I thought about a moment in which God used a large bird of prey to send me a clear message. I never knew what it was, a hawk, a falcon, an osprey or eagle…. all I knew was that it was massive and symbolized hope and freedom to me, and in that moment, His presence.
“God, just give me a hawk. Let a big ole hawk fly right in front of my windshield and then I’ll know for sure.”
I should have known better. There’s a reason we can’t tell the future. God made us in a way where we must walk through life on faith rather than sight, and I should’ve known it wouldn’t be so easy to get an answer just because I asked nicely. Yet, I rounded the next curve, my little prayer barely having escaped my lips, and there was a gigantic bird eating roadkill on the edge of the road. I thought, there’s no way.
Living out in the woods, it’s not out of the ordinary to see a hawk or other bird of prey. My boyfriend sees them often in the morning headed to work as they sit on a power line overlooking a farmer’s field, watching for breakfast to show itself. But I have rarely seen a bird this big. Maybe I just haven’t been very observant and haven’t seen them when they were within view, or having grown up in Chicago, my eyes aren’t trained to identify them.
I thought, okay, I have to know what this thing is. It’s got to be a scavenger because it’s on the side of the road eating a carcass, but not knowing where to start, I googled “red headed hawk” and the very first picture that popped up was exactly the bird I saw. Except it wasn’t a hawk. It was a turkey vulture.
Now, if the Creator of the universe really wanted to answer my prayer and give me a hawk, he would have just done so. It’s not like, a turkey vulture was the best he could find on short notice. So me being the type of person that finds meaning in everything, this is what I came to…
A turkey vulture is actually bigger than a hawk. Metaphor: God will give me more than I can think to ask for or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
But, even though it’s bigger, it’s also gross. It’s a disgusting bird that eats dead rotting things on the side of the road. It’s part of the clean-up crew. And upon a closer look, it’s head is extremely ugly.
But until I looked more into what this bird was and found a close up picture of it on google, I didn’t see it as this gross ugly thing, rather upon watching it spread it’s wings at the approach of my car, it was sort of intimidating and breathtaking. My first thought was it had a fierce, wild sort of beauty.
Maybe that’s the point too, that’s how God sees brokenness. He looks at our broken parts, our ugliness, our disgusting habits, and yet He still sees beauty and strength.
He still sees something worthy. Something redeemable.
Maybe God was answering me after all. He knows I’d have much more fun finding metaphors and meaning for a turkey vulture, then if He had just given me the hawk to begin with.
Maybe it doesn’t matter what the world sees when they look at the turkey vulture, only what He sees. Just like with each of us.