Over the past few months I have felt woefully inadequate. I finally answered God’s call on my life to write and I penned my first book. Writing and being an ‘author’ was almost as easy as breathing and I completed the first draft over the season of lent. I planned the book for almost five years and putting the pen to paper and accepting that God created me to use the written word felt like a relief, not a burden. I embraced finding myself and living into God’s call. The freedom of ‘being’ me led to other changes, like new glasses, clothes, and hair color (I dyed my signature red hair blonde). It was exciting and comfortable!
But, and this is a big ‘but’, publishing is tough, ya’ll. It is a big business, and connections and networking REALLY matter.
I started to second guess everything and feel liked I failed, because I didn’t have the credentials from the start. I thought, “I don’t know the ‘right’ people.” “If I was only better at …I could succeed.” “I wish I was more like so-and-so, that would do it.” “Am I in the wrong circles?” And so on. I thought I was ‘wrong’ or ‘not good enough’.
All of this negative self-talk angered me. It isn’t like me and it became self-hatred for being so hard on myself. Upon reflection, I uncovered a deeper truth, I hate being a beginner and I am starting at the beginning.
It isn’t that I don’t know the right things, people, skills, marketing techniques, connections, or editors, because of course I don’t. I just started in a new world and a new ministry, how would I know everything or run in the correct circles? It is my first day of school in many ways. I have to start somewhere. And unfortunately, we all start at “square one”. I’m not inadequate; I’m a beginner. I hated this, but maybe, this is grace. Maybe the Christian life is a constant state of being a beginner, dying to self and rising again in Christ.
Starting over is hard. I know. I remember the last time I really ‘felt’ like I was starting over. I left my abusive ex-husband and everything in my life – from my name, to my house, to the car I drove, to the size of clothes I wore – changed. I barely had a dollar to my name, and I was a 22 divorcee in a big scary world.
I had to rebuild my life brick by brick and stone by stone. Thus began the most frightening and invigorating chapter of my life to date. I was undefined by any label apart from free in Christ. A key component of domestic violence is isolation and control. I didn’t know how to pay any of my bills, had very few friendships, didn’t know where to change my car oil, and was unsure if I would have to leave college and move in with my parents.
Slowly, piece by piece, I learned. It was a victory every time I ‘adulted’ or managed to accomplish a new task. Every day the world around became less intimidating and more familiar. Every day my self-assurance and reliance grew. I did it. I started from scratch and emerged a fully functional, self-reliant adult. Did it take time? Yep. Was it always easy or comfortable? Not even close. Was it a means of grace? Undoubtedly.
As Christians and people proclaiming the gospel, we must learn to be content to become beginners. Every day we wake up in need of grace and forgiveness, and we should be welcome to rediscovering God anew. “Behold I am making all things new,” (Rev. 21:5b, ESV) means that we are being made new as well. Being new means being a beginner: unsure, unsteady, and uninformed. Our hearts must be open to the majestic, the divine, the bold, and the Holy. This takes admitting that we are less, in need. In need of grace. In need of salvation. In need of mercy. In need of love. In need of knowledge. In need to learn.
Where in your life are you starting over? Where are you a beginner? Where are you discontent with the status of ‘amateur’? How might you allow God to make you new and walk you through the process of becoming a ‘veteran’? Where do you need to become a beginner again?