Happy first anniversary of blogging to me! The year has been filled to the brim with lessons that have taken me out of my comfort zone and pushed me beyond what I thought possible. I marvel at how God has taken my desire to share my journey with my sweet grandbabies and turned it into something so much more. In my thirty-three years of teaching, I was constantly telling my students to write about their lives because no one else could write their autobiographies. I journaled my pain, but I never found the courage to write my own story until a dear friend encouraged me to write for Lillyann. Audience makes all the difference when it comes to writing, and I was suddenly motivated to tell the truth with love so she, and now Mylah, could hear Gigi’s heart.
Life and love are about hearing one another’s heart, and that has been the biggest lesson I’ve learned as I’ve brought my story into the open. It’s a lot like taking off my clothes in front of a large group of people, and I almost didn’t do it. I put it off until God made it clear that I needed it even more than my little granddaughters. Telling my story has opened my heart in a way that I could never have imagined a year ago. I thought it would be easy to blog about my life, but that has not been the case at all. For those of you who write and share your stories, you know exactly what I mean. Writing takes a toll on the heart, and I’ve always known that. In my classroom, I had photos of famous authors all around the room. I thought it was important for my students to see the face of the person who wrote the literature we were reading.
One day, a middle school student asked me very seriously if all the authors on the wall had sad life stories. I was cautious how I answered that question because I wanted my students to be encouraged to write, but I also wanted to be honest. I told him that many of the authors did have tragic lives; I saw a teachable moment and knew I needed to be honest. I love middle school students because they are so very real and know the pain that brings into their own lives. I told my students that writing takes a willingness to let others see your pain and feel your hurt, and that takes a toll on the heart and the soul. It isn’t for the weak and takes more courage than anything else in this world. I didn’t tell them that was why I avoided real writing like the plague. I wasn’t ready to reveal that much to them. I wish I could have been a better example in that regard.
They understood as only middle schoolers can, and I’m sure many of them saw my own cowardice. They didn’t call me on it, so that means they either didn’t notice my fear or they understood and respected it. I do remember wishing I was as brave as those faces looking down from the wall that day. I have thought about that question many times and find great irony in the fact that I taught writing yet didn’t write. I see now that my passion came from the fact that I could not do what I so wanted them to be able to do. Like a prisoner pleading for those on the outside to enjoy the open air, I was pleading with them to do what I could not bring myself to do. I was fifty-seven before I found the courage to write as I knew I should and fifty-nine before I found the courage to share my writing with others. I would say late is better than never, but I know timing is much more complicated than that.
I know the importance of readiness when it comes to learning, and the teacher in me knows that my heart wasn’t ready to write or admit that I couldn’t in that classroom long ago. God used my passionate desire to write to encourage my students to write. He really does make all things work together for good. He was writing His story on my heart all along, but I wasn’t ready to hear it. The most difficult critic to get past when writing is self, and I imagine that’s true for all writers. A year ago today, I struggled with sending my first post. I know I read it a hundred times and cried almost as many times before finding the courage to take my clothes off in front of the world and say here I am. I smile when I read that now because my heart has truly come home, and I love myself in a way I never believed possible. I marvel at how God works, and I thank Him and all who have given me the courage to open my heart and be who He created me to be.
Here’s my first post. Lessons in Love