As you’ve probably heard, “LISTEN” is my One Word for the year. I want to keep in step with the Spirit and listen better to the Lord and loved ones.
In order to stay focused on this goal, I’m starting a new series called, “Listen Close, Listen Well”.
Every other week, on Thursdays, I will be inviting some of my writer friends to share an experience when God spoke to them and how it impacted their lives.
Let’s grow together as we become better listeners in 2016.
Give a warm welcome to Tiffany as she shares her heart with us today.
Tiffany is a wife and mom who dwells in the sunshine (and smog) of Southern California. She’s a lover of words who purposes to use hers to speak God’s truth with grace and authenticity. More than that, she longs to provide a safe place for others to do the same. You are invited to join her word-by-word journey through the mountains and valleys of faith at her blog, Simply for One, or on Facebook and Twitter.
Not Ours to Give Away
I’ve thought about quitting three dozen times. And that’s a conservative count. The funny thing is, I don’t consider myself a quitter. I’m a perfectionist by nature, a recovering one by grace, so it entirely contradicts my personality to leave what I start unfinished.
When I first heard God’s call to write, it sounded … interesting. I’ve always loved words, whether it be placing them on a page or speaking them into a room full of people. And this call to write came at a turning point in my life.
Opportunity intersected with the voice of God and demanded action.
And yet for months, I shrugged and thought, “Maybe.”
The call grew persistent. A still, small voice pursued me with words, seemingly begging me to lay them on a page. But a much louder voice crowded out God’s insistence. It said, “You can’t. What could you possibly have to offer? There are so many better than you.”
But I wrote, and didn’t breathe a word to a single soul. I’d slam the computer shut when my husband walked into the room. When my son looked over my shoulder, I’d scoot him out of the room. If friends asked what I was up to, I’d stuff down my heart cry to share my labor of love.
In the recesses of my mind was a whisper, “They’ll laugh if you tell them.”
I had obeyed God’s call to write, but I had robbed myself of its joy. Instead of standing confident that His call would include His equipping, I stood wobbly-kneed and gripped by the chains of shame.
Thousands of words and hundreds of pages later, shame still rears its head to steal the value in the work. But God … has spoken hundreds of thousands of words over me reminding me that He is greater, that His call is irrevocable, and that He has poured good works into my life so that I can walk forward in them.
The enemy will always amplify our insecurity, but he can never steal our victory.
Our gifts are written over our lives by God, chosen for us, to use for His glory. They aren’t the devils to steal. Our passions and the dreams that tie them all together, aren’t ours to let go of either. They are gifts.
We can’t give away what doesn’t belong to us.
But don’t think I haven’t tried. God and I have had many conversations about surrendering, laying down, holding loosely—whatever the “spiritually correct” form of quitting is. As I have prayed, cried, and called out, God has forced me to answer some hard questions:
- What would you do instead?
If you’re called to teach, could you become a gardener? If your gift is laying color on canvas, would you be content downhill skiing? You couldn’t do it, could you? Your gifts would pursue you, because they are a part of who you are. They are knit into the very fiber of your being.
You are God’s workmanship and He intends for you to use those gifts with purpose, not point them in the wrong direction. Sure, He may re-route you, but God will never direct you off course.
- Why are you looking ahead instead of looking up?
God isn’t in the business of instant gratification. He’s after the far reaching growth, the eternal prize. So often we fix our eyes on the results, when God only asks us to focus on the process.
We want to quit because we don’t see the end in sight. God wants us to keep going so that when we get to the end, we look more like Him. Stronger, wiser, and the very best version of the woman He has created us to be.
Don’t quit. Your story ends in victory, because your story is written by God.
On the other side of fear, doubt, comparison, approval-seeking, or whatever obstacle is holding you back, are the makings of your story. Grow and cultivate your gifts. Allow God to stretch your boundaries. But whatever you do, don’t allow anyone to steal what God has intended for you.
Don’t quit. I’ll be right here cheering you on.
P.S. Are you a writer? Join me on Fridays at 1:30 EST on Periscope for #WeWrite (@Katie_M_Reid). Be encouraged on your writing journey as you take the next step towards your God-given dreams.
Hi, Tiffany. I really appreciate what you have shared here. It resounds in my spirit. I do have a question, though: Why shame? You said you ” stood wobbly-kneed and gripped by the chains of shame.” I don’t understand. There may be more than you have shared here, and I am not asking you to share anything you desire not to share. I just found myself wondering and thought I’d ask. Other things I could understand, such as fear of what others might think, or hesitancy wondering about your abilities, but shame? I am just trying to help you see where I am coming from, and understand more fully what you are trying to say. I do hope this doesn’t make you uncomfortable. May God continue to bless you richly.
Tiffany Parry says
Hi Cindy – I think in my case, that’s the fiery dart the enemy chose to assault me with – the lie he sold me. That I should be ashamed and embarrassed to call myself a “writer” or share that gift with the people around me because of the misguided belief that I wasn’t enough – and more so, that they’d agree with the fact that I wasn’t enough. Shame is truly one of the pitfalls of striving for unattainable perfection – and indeed, it’s neatly tied with insecurity, fear, and all those other weapons designed to keep us from pursuing God’s call. I hope that gives you a better sense of how I had to choose to listen to God’s persistent call over the enemy’s defeating lie. Blessings to you!
Thank you so very much for the inspiring and encouraging message such that am just a man walking in the same route now I don’t understand by what you mean”The enemy will always amplify our insecurity but He can never stealour victory”would you enlighten me on this one please?!
heather m. says
Oh Tiffany, thanks for sticking with it and seeing your gift through ♥ Your writing surely inspires me. When I’ve been tempted to quit something because I don’t see the big results that I think I should, God reminds me that obedience is mine and results are His. I get how disproportionately embarrassing it can be to call ourselves a writer or a creative because maybe we haven’t yet learned that our gifts are just as valuable as some others…? I mean when my hair dresser for goodness sake asked me what I’d love to do if I could do anything– I stuttered and stumbled through saying, “Well, I umm, write a blog about faith and uhhh, Jesus and stuff and love vintage and have an Etsy shop and if I could kinda maybe do something related to that full time…” it was as if saying the words out loud would open me up to criticism I wasn’t sure I was ready for… But oh, what if by owning our gifts and being willing to share them bravely anyway is just the thing we need? ♥
Tiffany Parry says
I hear you, Heather – all that stuttering and stumbling because we can’t utter the words, “I write.” It’s amazing how we can get so tied up in our own preconceived notions and insecurities that we’re not only unable to fully embrace God’s call, but we feel shame to speak it out loud. In a very real way, that’s being ashamed of what God has written over our lives – being ashamed of Him. It’s a beautiful (and brave) thing to stand so firm and resolute that what other people might (but usually don’t) think pales in comparison to God’s very call on our lives. Thanks for being here today.
I’m so glad you stuck with the call God gave you, Tiffany. I am blessed by your writing. I really identify with all that insecurity and shame stuff. I don’t know how often I’ve heard in my head – “You can’t. What could you possibly have to offer? There are so many better than you.” This is such a comforting reminder – “The enemy will always amplify our insecurity, but he can never steal our victory.” Blessings and hugs to you!
Tiffany Parry says
So glad that you were encouraged, Trudy. Those voices can be so loud and the enemy can be so convincing when we roll his lies into our own fear and insecurity. But God is greater, right?! His call is so worthy of us shoving past all the “stuff” that holds us back, taking that leap of faith, and trusting that He won’t lead us where He hasn’t gone before. Now, to remember that! 😉 Thanks for being here, friend.
Anna Smit says
Oh Tiffany, how I empathize with this internal battle, with the struggle to look up and not forward, with the lies that attempt to steal joy.
I first started writing privately in 2014, as I worked my way through grief, trauma and doubts. As I wrote I found God taking me places I would have never dared go of my own accord. It was as if He was writing it to me. I’d re-read what I wrote and my heart would be opened. As I shared what I wrote with my friends they told me I should write a book. I thought to myself, “Nice idea…but I don’t think so.” Now, almost two years later God’s nudged me step-by-step into sharing the gift He’s given me more publically. I have compiled my blog posts into a manuscript, being repeatedly led toward doing so…now just have to take it one step further: leaning into Our God in trust. Thanks for your encouragement to do so.
Anna – It’s no small feat to obey those small nudges and trust God when you can’t see what’s in store for you. But that obedience is a prize all itself. The fact that you have the courage to share those private insights with the world is such a testament to His work in you! Keep moving forward, because He is a Gos so worthy of trust. I’m encouraged by your brave steps and I’m cheering you on. Can’t wait to see what He does with those words.
Julie Steck says
Tiffany thank you for your brave words. I’m so glad you obeyed His prompting despite the doubts h fear. I especially liked the phrase “your story ends in victory because your story us written by God” I am also writing a tough story, one I’d rather not write, but you’re right, it does end in victory & that is worth sharing! May the Lord fill you with joy as you continue this journey if writing!
Tiffany Parry says
The same to you, Julie. I pray you sense God’s nearness and you lay down those words. The toughest journeys always come with the greatest grace. Blessings to you and write on!!
Michele-Lyn Ault says
Beautiful ❤️ If your obedience is beautiful to me, imagine how much more beautiful it is to God….both of you. ☺️
I love you both and the example your to the Body of Christ. You are running your race well.
Michele-Lyn Ault says
And that should be *you are ☺️
Thank you, friend…following hard after Him is the cry of my heart. ❤️
Valerie Sisco says
Lovely words that describe your journey to use the gifts God’s placed within you! Just because we’re doing what’s instilled in us sometimes we think it should be easier than it is but that’s when God really partners with us and shows us his power within us — I just love that! These encouraging words are so precious to me today! 🙂
You speak such truth, Valerie…we can caught in thinking that rather than God’s calling meaning His equipping, it means smooth sailing and easy roads. But growth and stretching, maturing into that person of Christ, is not painless…at all! 😉 God does work in, through, and beside us and that is beautiful and wonderful. Thanks for visiting here, friend.
Betsy de Cruz says
What a beautiful idea for a series, Katie! Kudos to you! (And when I finally make it to Periscope, I’d love to check out your videos.
Tiffany, I can so relate to stifling the cry of our heart where a friend asks, “What have you been up to?” It’s taken me a long time to own the label “writer,” and I’m not sure I’m there yet. (That I really own it, I mean.) Thanks for your encouragement.
You know, Betsy…I first put “writer” on my social media bios last year, and everytime I see it I roll my eyes a bit. I think we equate the identity with the outcome far too often. We aren’t writers if we publish, have 1000’s of followers, or become a household name. We are writers because we lay down the words God puts on our hearts, and because that in and of itself is an act of surrender and obedience. Ok…I preached that for you and me both. Now, let’s believe it!! Love you, friend and your beautiful heart to encourage.
Lux G. says
This sounds like my story, Tiffany! I hear God’s call and let the enemy discourage me and make me think I’m not enough. Forgetting that where God called me, He will deliver me.
Thanks for this reminder.
Yes, yes Lux! He who called us also will do it! (1 Thess 5:24). The enemy doesn’t get to undo what God has written over you. You are loved and you are enough because you are His. Blessings to you!
I’m a little late commenting here, Tiffany, but I loved this. I always appreciate your honesty but I love what you dug out for us: the enemy cannot steal the victory. My reading today was of the temptations of Christ and I saw how Satan so tempted and then left for an opportune time. I suppose that satan’s work is a sign that we doing Kingdom work! Thank you for this good word, Tiffany.