Finding my Place

Purple Mountains. Trabuco Canyon Community Church, February, 2011.

Clarity and Grace

Inspection of my sock drawer would reveal to you that I mean it when I say that I’m not good at spending money on myself–especially if you compared the sock drawer’s ragtag population to the shiny trucks and piles of blocks crowding the grandchildren’s toy chest in the living room. All the same, I invested several hours and a little money in myself last weekend. I reaped an unexpected return: huge dividends in clarity and grace.

Last weekend I attended the annual conference of the Orange County Christian Writers Fellowship. The 2010 edition of this meeting had blessed me, so I resolved to return.

This year I was emboldened to enter three writing contests. The winners would be announced at lunch on Saturday.

After feasting on penne and fellowship, I listened as the contest winners were announced. For each contest, the judge announced third place, then second place, then first place. As the final first-place winner was announced, I surprised myself by releasing a long, slow, cleansing breath, and remained in my seat as another attendee walked to the lectern to receive acclaim.

I am not by nature competitive. I want to do my best, but I want everyone else to do her best too. On this day, other people’s bests were judged better than mine. And it felt….


I’m grateful to receive confirmation of my understanding that I have lots of growing room left as a writer, that the path before me stretches on for some distance. The GPS in my writer’s heart is properly calibrated, after all.

Sunday morning I awoke at four o’clock, dog-paddling across a rip current of insights. The eddy continued in my wakefulness, energizing and exhausting me. I couldn’t discern the current’s direction and the shore looked unfamiliar. It was a little disorienting, but I knew better than to fight my way out. I chose to keep my head above water and drift, waiting for the place I was in to identify itself for me.

Later that morning my husband Rich and I went to worship. Our pastor had included a lovely note in the bulletin, thanking the congregation–us–for helping to prepare for and celebrate Easter. His note continued into a second paragraph:

Remember Easter is not just an event – we are called to celebrate Easter every day…living in light of the triumph of Jesus, spurring one another on to good works, bearing with one another in love. Remember because of Him we can go boldly before the throne of God. You might want to check this out.

My tears surprised me. After the growing, the clarifying, and the insights that had occupied me through the weekend, Pastor Robert’s decision to share something I’d written with our congregation was a cloak of grace.

As I wrapped myself in it, the rip current ceased and the shore became recognizable as a familiar place.

It is my place. It is a seeker’s place.

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
Psalm 27:7-8 (NASB)

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