By: Staci Stallings
The other night our parish school had a fund raiser. Many parents as well as general supporters of our school showed up. I knew many if not most of those in attendance either directly through the school, from the church, or through organizations I’m a part of. There were, however, many that I didn’t know by name or in person. A lot of these were new parents to our school, or parents of children from different grades other than my children’s.
Toward the end of the evening, a gentleman stepped up with these words, “Hi, Staci. I’ve known who you were for awhile, but I’ve never actually introduced myself. I’m a writer too.”
Now, I guess this is confession time or something, but I’m a terrible chicken. I would never have the courage this fellow parent displayed. You see, if there was another writer, I would watch them from afar, but I would not have the courage to go up and introduce myself. In fact, I’ve literally been dragged by my husband to go meet someone I greatly admired, the whole way saying, “They don’t want to talk to me. They don’t even know me!” (Of course, that’s the POINT of introducing yourself, but little things like logic rarely have much power in those situations for me.)
So I greatly admire this man who stepped up and introduced himself. We talked for a little while about writing, what he writes, what he’s published. It was an interesting conversation as I think writers are some of the most courageous people on the planet. Putting your heart and soul on paper for others to read and judge takes soul courage. Telling others that you put your heart and soul on paper also takes soul courage because then they say, “Oh, what do you write?” And whatever it is that you write is never what they like to read, or they think that’s somehow not a good thing to write what you write (I heard that for YEARS with Christian Romance… giggling, “What’s that?”). But I love to talk to fellow writers because I feel honored to be a space of encouragement for them, a fellow writer saying, “Way to go! Keep it up!”
But what struck me about this man was his opening statement, “I’ve known who you were for awhile now.” It just so happens that his son is in my son’s class. We’ve been at the Thanksgiving party, the Christmas party, the Valentine’s Day party… with our children. It’s quite possible that he’s seen me in other places too. Substituting perhaps in his other son’s class or at a school function. I’ve been at the school for a long time, and so has he.
In his words though, God showed me that I’m not living this life in a vacuum. Others see me… others know who I am, even if they don’t come up and introduce themselves to me. Others see me and how I treat my children and my husband. Others see me at church or at school. Others see me on the ‘net and in my books and living my life.
There was a time that would have made me worried about what they were taking away from my actions about me and about my commitment to God and His Kingdom, that they were judging me, and I was always coming up short. However, God and I got straight a long time ago that He’ll worry about the world’s judgments. I just have to take the steps He’s asking me to take and keep pointing others to Him in what ever way He leads me to.
Still, it is something important to remember that there are people who have “known who I was for awhile.” I’m not living in a vacuum, and my witness is not just about pretty words and nice phrases. It’s about how I’m living day to day, minute to minute. What I choose to make important, what I choose to spend my time, talents, and treasure on, what my heart says about who I really am, what my words and actions say about where I am with God. Those are the things others see in me… and in you.
Think for just a minute about what your life says about your relationship with God. If someone walked up to you today and said, “You know, I’ve known who you were for awhile…” would there be peace in your heart or fear about what they’ve been seeing? Now might be a good time to appraise how you are seen through others’ eyes–even others whom you’ve not yet met. Not so you can see how they are judging you, but to see if you are being the a witness to God’s grace and glory and love in your life and actions… not just in your pretty words and nice phrases.