When I began my three month sabbatical from youth ministry in the fall of 2016, I started each morning in my oversized chair in the living room. I used my Sacred Ordinary Days planner to guide my scripture reading. I also used books of poetry and blessings to guide my connection to Spirit. When my sabbatical ended, I made sure to keep this morning rhythm going. I woke up earlier — a bit of a sacrifice — in order to start my day with quiet reflection.
I wrote in my journal each morning as well. I wrote down my thoughts about the scripture reading and how it applied to my current situation. I wrote down my responses to devotional readings and questions posed for the reader. I wrote down my connection to the blessings and poems I read.
I recently went back to read some of my journal entries from that time to see if there were any gems I might pull out for my book project. I can’t begin to tell you what I found. Sparkling, shiny, beautiful gems! I’ll work through those at another time. However, I found one entry that highlights the purpose of this blog:
“I put Savor aside. Back to Jan Richardson, back to Circle of Grace. Her writing speaks to me. I connect with her in a deeper, more authentic place. I still really like Shauna’s writing. But, for a day-to-day reading, Jan is who I want to be with.”Journal entry: February 20, 2017
First, I like how I was trying to protect Shauna’s feelings — as if she might read my journal some day, like anyone would read my journal some day! Typical enneagram two shining through. 😉
Second, I’m once again reminded of my strong connection to Jan Richardson and the beautiful way she puts words to the Spirit’s movement in the world.
Recently I had the opportunity to have a video call with Jan. I think I did really well keeping my fangirl at bay. I had the opportunity to tell her how much The Cure for Sorrow was a gift to me during the initial weeks and months of my infertility diagnosis. I told her how I’ve mailed that book to friends who have lost loved ones. I told her how her writing has opened me to new ways of understanding grief, faith and my relationship to God.
Then… then! She told me how she was on my website and read some of my blogs. She told me what a gift my writing is and how important my voice is to the world. She told me that we have similar understandings of leading retreats, based on what she read on my site (and the reason we were talking). What is one supposed to say when a person she admires and deeply respects reciprocates with admiration and respect?
The biggest take away from that short moment is this: my voice is important to the world. She confirmed what I had already been hearing from others.
My pastor shared this blog post because he thinks it’s important for pastors to understand the full picture of infertility. In particular, he appreciated the note about adoption and acknowledged he had probably said that to me.
A stranger came up to me at a conference. She saw my name and asked if I wrote a blog — her initial question (I forget what it was exactly) made me wonder if it was really me she was thinking of. But then she said, Yes! It’s you! I share your blog with a lot of people. Thank you! Then we hugged, this stranger and I.
Another pastor told me how much she appreciates my writing. And a pastor/book writing friend told me she can’t wait for my book because there are several people in her congregation she wants to share it with.
My voice matters. My voice is important.
There are a lot of books out there about infertility. Some more helpful than others. There are even some about moving forward with a child free life after infertility. However, there is no one who has my specific story, with my particular words, with my unique point of view.
I do worry about running out of things to say. I worry about not having enough content to create an actual book. I worry that I don’t have what it takes to make this dream come to life.
And then, I remember. I remember that my friend and breathwork teacher affirms that, You are the channel — the words will come from God. You just have to surrender and let allow them to follow through you! I remember that my friends tell me they believe in me. I remember all those pastors who are waiting for a resource to share with their parishioners. I remember the woman on Instagram who told me I’m the first person with premature ovarian failure that she’s ever spoken to. I remember my brother who wrote, The book!! You must do the book. You’re doing good work. It’s honest and raw. And, I will always remember Jan Richardson telling me what I already knew, deep down: my voice is important to the world.