This is a guest post from Taylor Smith, journalist and founder of Belong Together, an organization dedicated to mentoring refugees. In episode 61 of the BoldIdea podcast, she talked about how working with refugees changed her life.
I was born wielding a pen.
And as a little girl, I found my boldness in writing my own story.
I wrote down the places I wanted to go, the things I wanted to do, the people I wanted to meet.
There was no shyness in me. No stutter in my sentences. My life would go exactly the way I dreamed it up.
Or so I thought.
For a girl like me who was born into a world with two loving parents, in a safe place, with resources and opportunities seemingly endless, I was never taught to consider unexpected turns in the story.
By the age of 18, I had lost both of my parents—one slowly and one unexpectedly, and was quickly on track to lose my home, my finances, my health, my faith.
The tattered pages of the story I penned for my life lay at my feet—the 10 dream careers, college homecomings, the poem of my dad walking me down the aisle on my wedding day. The story I had so confidently written, and one the world applauded, was no longer a story my reality resembled.
How about you?
What does your story look like right now, and where are your pages?
Are you still holding onto the script the world gave you from birth?
Are you standing with your pen in hand, trying to write a chapter you think should happen?
Are you on your knees with crumpled paragraphs in your hands, trying to reconcile how you got here?
If you’re anything like me—wanting to write a good story for your life—you might have turned to things you thought could make it more exciting. Maybe you rewrote a few sentences to make your family life look better. Maybe you added a thesis, and some letters after your name. Maybe you pound it out at the gym to prove them all wrong, or pound on your soapbox to prove them wrong, again.
Those things should all make our stories sound better, right?
That’s what I thought, too, until I realized that I’m not the best writer.
And while I’ve most likely never met you, I’m guessing you’re not the best writer, either.
None of us are.
As humans, we often start our stories picking up the pen and writing out what we want.
But rarely do we give the pen to God and let Him write what He wants.
Surrendering the pen is hard, especially when our fingers have gripped it for years, if not decades.
Surrendering the pen is vulnerable, especially when we’ve painstakingly taken precautions to write ourselves into the stories that gain us worldly approval, success and recognition.
Surrendering the pen is opposite of what our culture tells us to do.
surrendering the pen is hands-down the most liberating, healing and bold thing you can do.
Because God is The Author.
From the beginning, He’s been writing a story, and His story is always a greater one than we could ever imagine.
And in His stories -as we’ve seen from Noah to Abraham, to Joseph and Jesus- are always filled with surprises!
Every story contains seemingly insurmountable challenges—which are always met by His incredible provision—provision that doesn’t come on human timelines — provision that doesn’t look like what we thought it would—provision that doesn’t arrive from where we thought it might.
I was 20 years old when I first laid down my pen and asked Him to take it—to take my scribbled sentences and redefine the words I was so desperately trying to fit into.
When I laid down my pen I simultaneously said “yes” to His will, His adventure, His journey, whatever it would look like, and wherever it would take me.
Believe me, it has looked like nothing I would have written for myself.
It’s turned out far more beautiful than I would have written for myself.
Not the kind of beauty our economy cultivates.
It’s the kind of beauty that His economy grows.
If I can be so bold,
put down your pen.
Put down your pages, and your white out, and your Instagram filters, too.
Put the pen in His hands, and just see where He takes you.
My guess is that it will be a place you least expect.
Where has He taken me? Who has He put in my life to radically change me?
Halfway across the world—sitting in a refugee camp—holding hands with displaced people who have taken me in as if I were their own.
It wasn’t my original story for my life.
It’s one infinitely better,
because it’s His.
And I’m His.
And so, my friend, are you.