October was one of the busiest working months of my life. I traveled a lot and spoke a lot, and although I loved every single minute of it, it kinda wore me down. I'm certain that people who travel and speak for a living have an extra dose of sanity in their head, because geez louise it was draining. For this entire semester I have hunkered down for October's work load. I recorded so many podcast episodes in September to make sure that I wouldn't have to record any in October. I had a producer start working with me in September, and that took all the work load off of me as far as the podcast goes for October.
The entire month I kept looking forward to November. I thought if I can just get through October, then November will be here and I can rest. My plan all along has been to speak my way through October and then write my way through November. I have a book proposal swirling around in my brain to get down on paper, I have blog ideas overflowing in Evernote, and they were all quietly waiting for November.
Then November arrived, and these are basically the first words I have written all month. I'm writing this at 8:46am on November 24th, and it's all I have done this far. Not one blog post has been expanded from the ideas in Evernote, and not one sentence has been drafted for the book proposal that I so desperately want to have done by the last bell ringing at midnight for 2015.
November has been overtaken by buying a house, renovating a house, and the Christmas Special on The Happy Hour podcast. All of these things are just wonderful, and my most favorite things of the year, but they did take the place of all the writing that was going to exist during this month.
One of the fabulous things that transpired in the month of October was that I had three big revelations about my identity. These three things might not be big to you, but they were huge to me, and literally it was as if they hit me in the face with a two-by-four. One realization happened in the middle of September and has festered and grown since then, one hit me like a ton of bricks in a hotel room as I laid crying in my bed, and one in the earliest of mornings when I was begging God to forgive me of my ugly heart once again.
All three of these things I've talked with Aaron about a hundred times, and for some reason I just can't believe that at thirty-seven I'm still finding out big things about who I am as a person. I'm learning things about myself that I had never thought about, and realizing things about myself that I've pushed down hoping no one else might realize this, including my own self. I'm owning gifts of mine that I thought were only given to the “other” way more successful people in life. I literally have said a hundred times in the past few months aloud and in my secret thoughts, “Who would have thought I would still be finding stuff out about myself now?” Almost as though I thought I had hit the point of completion within myself.
I am fully aware that I am nowhere near completion in my spiritual life (thank you Jesus for that one because I have so far to go!), but somewhere along the way I thought I knew myself completely, and so when these identity awareness moments happened I had a mild case of “who am I?” I found myself wondering how I should walk in these new-found realizations, and own them as my own.
The funny thing about these three realizations is that when I tell you, they won't seem big to you. In fact you will probably find yourself wondering what the big deal is, and why she spent an entire post blubbering about how hard it was to be confronted with them. But that's the awesome thing about my identity — it's mine. These realizations don't ring true for all people, because these were my moments, meant just for me.
The first moment happened in September when I was interviewing Kari Sowers for The Happy Hour and she said something at the very end of our interview that literally stopped me in my tracks.
Kari said that she believes that everyone is a creative. Uh.. not me! I've never considered myself creative. Never. Not in a million years. I don't sing. I don't paint. Aaron picks out our color schemes. I can't even make a pretty wreath. Those are the things that equal creative. Aaron's creative. My friend Amy is creative. Jana & Maris are creative. Not me.
But the more I thought about this (and believe me I have spent hours thinking about this since that conversation in the middle of September) I came to realize we all were created by a creative God to create something. I'm going to own that. I'm going to stand on that like a gold medal winner at the Olympics.
I am a creative.
The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast exists for only one reason, and that's because I created it. There was no mastermind group coming up with ideas for the show. There were no group meetings to create the format, nope just me. I did that. And if you think I'm bragging, then I need you to just move on because you are missing the point. When Kari said, “you are creative,” it was the first time in forever I thought about myself in that way… and it blew my mind. I may not create masterpieces with paint brushes, or beautiful melodies on the piano, but none-the-less I am creating.
The second moment happened in a hotel room.
I had spent the entire morning with people, talking to people, speaking to people, engaging people, answering questions for people, people, people, people, and the next thing I know I'm walking back to my room as fast as I can to get in bed and just get a good cry in. I was completely overwhelmed. I needed a break from people, and I have never in my life felt this way. I love people, I love a good party, and I love engaging people. October was full of engaging moments for me and I loved it. Speaking to women is one of the greatest joys in my life. Meeting up with friends you haven't seen in a while is so wonderful, but I had hit my breaking point at the end of the month.
As I laid in my bed and cried, I realized that as much as I love being around people, I might have a few introverted qualities. I have always thought that being an introvert means you hate people and are shy, but that is so far from the truth. I found this online (and everything you find online is always true, right?): Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people (source). In that moment, I realized that I can become completely drained by being in a large group of people. I've always felt as though large groups energized me and for the first time I was realizing that I needed a bit of alone time to energize myself.
After a super busy season in life, Aaron always heads to West Texas to be alone. That has always perplexed me, but in that moment I realized why he needs those days away. His soul, body, brain, and heart need to be rested and replenished. I experienced the need for being alone for the first time, and it was a big revelation for me.
I need to take time for myself and replenish my soul better. I would have never though that!
The third moment took place in my private time with God.
I've always considered myself someone who showers grace on people. I can easily forgive Aaron. I can easily shower grace upon people because I've made some pretty crappy choices in my life, and realize the amount of grace that's been given me. I've always 100% identified with the younger brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. I relate to the son that came back to God after wondering away, and I've always thought that the older brother in the story was a jerk. How could he be so upset over the love and grace his father was showing his brother? Who was he to think that he was any better? (Judgmental darts look the same no matter where they are coming from, or who is throwing them.)
Recently, someone I know made some big mistakes. They made bad choices. They hurt those around them. They lost trust from people they had served diligently, and all of a sudden I was struggling to forgive. I had put God in a box, and all of a sudden I felt my heart turning ugly. I was the older brother and I didn't know how to stop judging. I was angry that the Father was so gracious and forgiving. I felt as though I was better because I was loving God, serving him, and doing “right,” I had somehow let myself think that I was better.
Everyday I found myself praying the same thing. Please forgive me for my judgements towards them. Please help my unbelief. Please forgive my ugly heart for feeling that I'm incapable of the same sins. Every single morning I begged God to remind me how big and wide and enormous his grace truly is, and to help me show that person the same grace.
God has been so gracious and patient with me. Everytime my heart gets ugly, He forgives me. Every time my pride swells, He convicts and forgives me. One particular day I looked at Aaron and expressed my concern with literally having to repent of the same thing every single day. Why wasn't I understanding it? Why wasn't I trusting God? Why was someone else's sin effecting me so much?
Aaron graciously looked at me and said, “God is using this to pull out the ugliness in your heart. He's using this situation to show your unforgiving and judgmental ways, and He wants to help you be a more gracious and forgiving person.” Aaron encouraged me to continue going to God, allowing Him to change my heart. That pain and discomfort was actually good, because it meant that God was continuing to refine me to look more like His Son.
Here's the funny thing about all this — I have always assumed that I'm a forgiving and gracious person. But then, this situation arose and I saw first-hand how filthy and arrogant my heart truly is. My need for Jesus isn't less, just because my sin doesn't seem as blatant and outwardly destructive. But truthfully, my prideful heart, my constant desire for control, and my inability to trust God…these sins are just as offensive to God as that person's sin that I was judging!
I need Jesus. They need Jesus. We all need a Savior.
So, there you have it friends. October was one of the busiest months of my life, and one of my most refining.
God is pushing and pulling and molding me into a person that isn't just better, but a person that looks more like Him. He has gifted me in ways I never considered. He is showing me that I must nourish my soul if I'm going to continue to pour into women's lives. And the one I'm most thankful for is how He continues to show how much I need Him as Savior and Redeemer.
God is so faithful, and I'm such a work in progress.