A few years ago, I almost met Maya Angelou.
Some friends had gone to see if they could catch her, and me being the shy and reserved and I just don't want to get in trouble girl, said "you guys have fun."
They stood on the side of the road, waiting for her to show, holding signs asking her to join us at the demonstration we were part of that weekend.
She got out of her car and tilted her head, a small smile curving her lips. "There's two places to be in this world." she told them, taking in their signs. "Behind the protest-lines or behind the jailhouse door. You guys got it right. Keep this gumption."
And they took a picture with her, my friends on either side, leaning in as if they were resting in the arms of their mother.
Angelou says in order to be a writer, you need three things:
- something to say
- the ability to express it
- the courage to express it all
I've never lacked the first two. I struggle daily with the third. Almost ten years ago, on a dusty back road driving home, I heard God with more clarity than I've ever experienced:
you are my speaker-of-Truth.
I've been fighting this label ever since.
Maybe it's because I experience this inherent fear of authority. More than a few times I wonder will this get me in trouble?
When, let's be real: I'm a grown ass woman writing my thoughts and my opinions on my website. There's something rooted in fear when a 30 year old woman questions whether or not she can write about something she's experienced.
When I share pieces of my story, something shifts inside. More than a few times, I've had people push back and ask me to recant what I've said or reconsider the stories I share. I've been accused of writing too dark, relying on pithy statements, attempting to tear down ministries and gossiping from a megaphone.
And every single one of these posts made no mention of specifics.
Meaning, the words in my posts made their way into the hearts of those reading and they were bothered by what they knew to be true.
I'm not saying I'm always right. I'm not saying I don't screw up and I don't hit publish before thinking about repercussions. There's more than my fair share of posts-I-wish-I-didn't-write in the archives. But those posts are just as much a part of my story as the experiences I share. I won't ever take down a post because in this messy middle I find myself in, sometimes those posts are the red flags pointing me back home.
These posts and these words? They uncover the volcano within me. I realize what it is He's wanting me to say through words. I find the courage to express it through words. And after it's all said and done and I've hit publish or sent off the manuscript or article, I am reminded I am His Daughter and He is Proud.
Those are my sacred moments. Those are the words I often share with no one.
Here's what I've learned: often times we fail to remember the power within us. The power we possess is so much more than what we experience when we come up against critics and those trying to silence us. It's so much more because it's other - the fire of the Spirit - burning away those lies.
And what's left is the strength to move forward - word by word, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter - the heart of the Lion roaring to life inside.