To start is to be vulnerable

Overlooking Santorini from our cruise ship. October 2016.

23 Days.

***This post brought to you by the very fact that I was just eating caramel corn, drinking wine out of a bottle I stoppered with tinfoil nearly a month ago and contemplating how I got here***

You're welcome.

I am the first to admit that I've done a deplorable job of keeping all of you appraised, but I hope my summaries below will remind you that I'm still here, still single and most hopefully ready to mingle.

So. Let this serve as a countdown where you'll forgive me and we'll prepare to sing in this new year I continue to blog about singleness...because no doubt my caramel corn and wine habits aren't changing and there will still be a need in this wonderful world of ours for some real life talk.

Since I wrote you all last:

I started a new job.
I started my third year of seminary.
I started my own photography business...something I've dreamed for over 10 years.
I started the arduous process of learning New Testament Greek.
I started to feel like throwing up at the mention of NT Greek.
I became president of our seminary student body...somewhat, fully reluctantly. More on that later.

And last but definitely not least:

I embarked on my very first solo trip abroad for a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel Greece and Turkey for a footsteps of the Apostle Paul tour. Once there, I met up with a group of the most inspiring 48 individuals one could ever meet. Oh. And Christine Caine and Bianca Olthoff were there. With us. They hugged me. And because of this I am now fairly certain that my life in this eschaton is complete.

As I reflect on these last five months I've come to realize that they have exhausted the meaning of start. I'm not sure I've ever started so much in my entire life.

I've always liked to start things. Growing up, I was always starting new craft projects and coming up with new inventions and ideas on how to make our world a better place. Starting gets my little "Activator" heart all gooey on the inside. I love the process of starting new things and investing others in my ventures (i.e. you are currently reading one...)

But with all these starts have come other starts.

Alongside all these good things...

I started to doubt.

My call. My talent. My abilities.
My character. My looks. My age.
My worth. My last year. My next year.

In this season wrapped up in the adrenaline that comes to people like me who love "to start" came an equally powerful and all together debilitating season wrapped up in fear.

Am I really called to lead?
As a woman, am I (will I be) included, accepted...targeted?
Do I have anything worthwhile to say?
Am I good enough?

I know I'm not alone in wrestling with these questions. I know I've wrestled with them before and came out on the other side breathing and with all my limbs. I know "the answer" to all of them...and yet, I still struggle. Sometimes more, sometimes less. We all do in our own ways.

For me...

Every time our Greek professor calls my name I sense this surge of terror well up in my gut and feel my mind go numb. I just sit there, full of fear, staring at him like an idiot. I haven't won the prize for our class clown...although believe me I've tried. I'm not sure the guys in the room know what to do with me...and so I sit there...with my palms all sweaty and my blood pressure off the charts...believing the lies that I'm not worthy to be there. That I'm not smart enough. That everyone in the room questions not only my presence, but my abilities. I'm a a room full of boys...and I feel alone and siloed and not sure anymore that I'm called to lead like them.

For many weeks in a row this fall I was overcome with so much anxiety about attending church alone that I couldn't bring myself to go. I couldn't muster enough gumption to get out my front door. And so, I rolled myself up in a ball and cried.

The other day I met this guy at an event. He followed me everywhere. You'd think I had Doritos growing out of my back or something because anytime I turned around, there he was. Anyway. We were chatting and he did the sly "when did you graduate?" spiel that all of us know is just a ploy to get a rough estimate of one's age. Like clockwork, I witnessed all the blood drain from his face as he did the math...only to discover that his wife to be was 6 years his senior.

Sorry, man.

Sorry you think I'M OLD.

What does "looking 29" even freaking mean?!!!?

Just stop.

Stop looking surprised. Stop trying to compliment through your awkwardness that I have nice skin, "have done a great job keeping up with myself" and all the other shitty things you think are okay to say in that moment.

Needless to say, although Doritos guy was nice and well meaning. And although I know that I know that I know he didn't mean anything by his unintentional reaction. And although I know his surprise and (disappointment?) to the number of years I've lived on this earth do not define me or determine whether or not I'm anything other than what I still caused me pause.

When I think about it, starting is precipitated out of a willingness to be vulnerable. We can't begin if we don't take a first step, no matter how small.

When I started my photography business I was so nervous to make my work public because being public means you put yourself out in the world's eye to SEE YOU....and it may not like what it sees.

But you know what? I'm so glad I did it. Over the past few months I've learned more than I thought I ever needed to know as well as learned I will never stop learning. My style will always change and I will always be improving. The nature of the craft is that one does not stay static. As an artist, we are forever being transformed and our style showcases that transformation.

How true is that of our persons in general? Most specifically for those of us who believe that God's Holy Spirit is inside of our souls directing and guiding us toward the end result of Christ's beautiful character.

We will never be the same as we are today. We are forever starting and stopping. Growing and changing.

Which brings us back to this idea of vulnerability and its connection to our souls.

Our dreams, designs, ideas and what-have-yous may be birthed in the secret of our minds and hearts BUT they cannot become reality without action. Without the pen being put to the paper or the rubber meeting the road, our grand ideas will just sit where they were created until the creator will give them birth.

The same is true for our thought life. I may have been attacked while I was down (or as I would like to believe, because the devil is REAL afraid of me) but I allowed those icky lies and doubts to seep into who I believed myself to be and what I believed I was called to do. I allowed myself to become vulnerable to the negative ploys of our sinful world and the king of lies.

The creator of the universe is no different. He starts the world (ummm scary pressure much?! We're talking the universe here and everything that literally exists...and regardless of whether you're a YEC or Evolutionist or somewhere in the middle, I think it's safe to say that the universe STARTED at some point, somehow...I digress.)

As we are told in Genesis, God choose action by speaking his creation into existence. (Again...was he freaking crazy?! What a nuts and yet totally awesome, "I'm creator of the world" thing to do...)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said ..."
God said. He didn't just hover and he didn't just think. He said....He acted.

Not only this, but God created us. "Let us make man in our image, in our God created man in his own image." (vs. 26)

Think about that.

God created human beings all the while knowing that these same human beings could (and would) hate him and each other some day.

If that isn't pure vulnerability, I'm not sure what is. 

To create, to let your creation be seen and lived, all the while knowing it will reflect you but also may not be accepted or loved or used the way in which you intended...that take guts...and love for the greater good.

So. What are you wanting to start? What have you already started? Is it spreading love and joy? Or is it keeping you in doubt and in bondage?

Every form of action we take in our starts (whether they be of the new job or "why am I still not good enough" variety) is a step into vulnerability. And it's our prerogative to decide to what we will allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

For me. Let it be love. Let it be joy. Let it be peace. Let it be patience. Let is be kindness, goodness and faithfulness.




  1. Love reading your updates Steph! Wow Dorito guy is something else. He needs to be put in his place!

    1. Thanks DC! And, haha, he didn't mean it...i Just look like I'm 12. :)