A Piece of My Heart

I want to warn you by saying that this post may have more info about me than you want to know. I second-guessed writing it, but I feel the need to brag about God and what He’s doing in my life no matter how I personally feel about it. He’s worth more than that. He’s bigger than that.

Gen-Why, the young adult small group through my church that I help lead, has been studying a book by the name of SHAPE. It helps us examine our exact shape, or footprint, of who God made each of us to be. It walks us through the spiritual gifts, interests, passions, and experiences that God gave each of us, and it leads us closer to using those things to glorify God (our ultimate purpose in life). For those of you who have read Purpose Driven Life, this book was written almost as a sequel to go a bit more in-depth on how each person is designed uniquely. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, enough about the book. This week’s chapter, as we wrap up our study, was designed to start pulling some of the individual chapters/pieces together into a portrait of how God designed us and perhaps what He has in mind for our futures. I started pulling some of these pieces about myself together (below). Notice the lovely SHAPE acronym.

Spiritual Gifts: (I am gifted in…)
Counseling, administration, discernment, leadership, wisdom

Heart: (I feel passionately towards serving…)
Young girls. See “Experiences” section below.

Abilities: (I am good at…)
Coordinating, encouraging, designing, planning

Personality:  (I…)
Am better with one on one interaction, like to lead, am self-controlled

Experiences: (I’ve been through…)
I’ve never written out a “testimony” for the world to see… maybe one day. If you’re interested in hearing the full version, or at least the version I’ve been able to wrap my pea-brain around, I’d love to share it over a cup of coffee. But much of it can be summed up in a sentence that I’ve recited every Tuesday night at Celebrate Recovery: “God is granting me victory over issues related to childhood sexual abuse.” It sounds so clinical, doesn’t it? But it’s the truth, and that truth is setting me free (John 8:32) from a lot of years of pain, anger, confusion, and apathy. Long story short, it’s this experience that God is really calling me to use for His Kingdom. And it’s this experience that really gives me a heart for sexual abuse victims. I understand them in a way that other people can’t. And because it happened while I was in middle school, I really have a passion for middle schoolers, especially girls. And I want to stop it from happening to anyone else.
As I started pulling each of these pieces together, I got a very distinct impression of what I was supposed to do. Maybe not “do with my life”, but definitely “do now”. For the first time I was able to get a clear picture of who I was, what God had gifted me with, what experiences He’d given me, and how I was supposed to use those to really make a difference. In my head I immediately got this mental image of me working in/for an organization that helped educate parents and kids on the issue of sexual abuse, mainly focussing on preventing it. Either that, or me working in/for an organization that helps victims and their parents deal with it after it’s already happened.

But what was my next step? On Thursday I had no clue, but God let me know on Friday morning during my devotional time: “Hannah, go talk to Cori.” For those of you who don’t know Cori, she’s the pastor’s wife and Children’s Ministry coordinator at my church. I’ve been working with her for years, since I teach the middle schoolers in Sunday school, and we have a good relationship. My task tomorrow is to share this piece of my heart with her and see if there’s any place for my “ministry” within the church. I feel strongly that we should talk to parents in our church on how to prepare their children to stick up for themselves and educate them just enough to keep them out of harm’s way. I could be wrong… maybe the church isn’t the right setting. Maybe there’s an organization I should join outside the church to campaign for that. But either way, I’m showing up tomorrow to do what God asked. We’ll see how this goes.

Now class, let’s take out your journals…

I’ve often thought of blogs as awfully self-indulgent. I’m going to sit here and write out my innermost thoughts for the world to see… and you’re going to read it and like it or utterly disagree with it. Sounds like a picnic, no? Sounds like Facebook, actually, but that’s another topic. Maybe another day.

I recently read “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren, which is an utterly fantastic book for Christians to read, process, and live out. It talks (among other things) about the important of journaling God’s work and your growth in your life. God has been busy in my life these past few months, so I’ve begun writing it all down. The way my mind works is both a blessing and a curse. I remember everything. EVERYTHING. And I’m obsessive, so I tend to obsess over details, especially when I know that they’re details that God has arranged for His purposes. It’s something I’m fascinated by… God plans. And I’ve been fixated on a lot of those details the past few weeks. I get stuck thinking about them, and there’s a mix of emotions ranging from frustration and anger to redemption and amazement. These details keep me enraptured, and they take up a lot of my time. So I’ve started writing, and apparently I have more words than I thought I did. I’m not sure who will read those words, but they’re there for when I’m ready to share them. But simply through the process of writing them dow, I’m organizing my thoughts and expressing the results of my “stew” sessions. And I’m saving these thoughts for a time when my faith may need some encouraging. Maybe no one other than me will ever read these notes, but that’s ok, because in truth, these words are just for me.

So I’ll put this out there: Christians (that means ME!) need to journal. I often thought that journaling was a response to what I was reading in my Bible. It can be, I think, but it’s so much more than that. Journaling should be my thoughts and reactions of my walk with Christ. He should be an intricate part of my daily life, and no human on the planet has the brainpower or memory storage banks to remember everything that He has done for me in my short 21 years. In another 21 years I want to be able to look back and tell exactly when Christ showed up. I want to be able to brag about Him, just like I would of a friend, sibling, or parent. Families tend to make memory books and take photos of special events. Think of a journal entry as a snapshot of a moment with Christ.

I want my testimony to be so long that it would take a lifetime to tell. And the only way I’m going to remember the way Christ was patient with me, loved me unconditionally, took care of my emotional, spiritual and mental needs, and showed affection toward me, is if I write it all down. And so I write.