Three years ago this month I decided to put permanent ink on my body. What I didn’t know back in 2012 was that those eight little letters inscribed on my wrist would become the anthem of my life and spark something remarkable in those around me as well.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted everything to be perfect. My hair just right. My childhood ballet routines beautifully performed down to the last move. My high school backstroke technique flawless. Perfect A+ grades, never missing an assignment, not even thinking twice about getting a detention. Getting into the right colleges. Choosing the right career. Finding the perfect guy. Making the best of friends. Showing the world I’ve got it. You know, that it factor that everyone seems to want. But, in tear-filled frustration, I always seem to come up short in comparison to the world’s standards. Not pretty enough. Not the star swimmer on the high school swim team. Not the valedictorian of my class. No handsome stud on my side. No group of BFFs I share all of my deepest, darkest secrets with. It’s like perfection just wouldn’t come—no matter how hard I tried.
And that’s when it hit me. I will never be perfect. I wasn’t created to reach perfection. God created me exactly as He wants me to be—and in His eyes, I am perfectly made. Psalm 139 confirms that. He created me to love and embrace this grand adventure called life; the problem was—and is—that when I was striving so hard to reach what I deemed as “perfection,” I couldn’t truly live.
The words of Deuteron0my 30:11-14 are empowering me with the truth that I CAN do what God commands me to do. I don’t need to have anyone else explain it to me, teach it to me, or tell me to do it. Obeying God is up to me. I just have to do it. Following verse 14, God lays out some life-altering, eye-opening words that can’t help but grip me:
“Look at what I’ve done for you today: I’ve placed in front of you Life and Good, Death and Evil. And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16, the Message)
Live exuberantly. Really live.
I want that. I want to live free of the distractions of wanting to win popularity contests. Free from fighting so hard to be perfect. Free from avoiding messy, real, authentic relationships. Free from being so afraid of getting hurt. Free from trying to avoid failure so intensely. Free from striving to win the approval of others. Free from the icy grip of shame. Free. Free to LIVE.
Each of us are on a journey. Our stories are being written day by day and I believe our stories have the potential to really do something, to change the world. But only if we let them.
It really boils down to one thing: who will I trust to write my story? Me or God? Perfection screams, “Choose me! Choose me! Only I can control how everything turns out.” But the kind of living Deuteronomy 30 shares whispers the truth, “Choose God. He IS life. If you choose Him, you choose life.” When I choose to open my hands and release my grip on false control, I’m no longer striving to “do” anything; I’m simply “being” in His presence, trusting Him to “do” for me that which only He can do.
I am becoming, becoming who God made me to be. Each day a page of my story is being written into the threads of time and being woven into the very fabric of who I am. As I stand looking at the pages before me, I’m making a daily decision to choose to embrace this grand adventure called life and to trust the God who created me in the first place to continue to write the story of Emily.
One of my favorite quotes from Shauna Niequist explains it this way:
“This season is about becoming…walk closely with people you love, and with people who believe God is good & life is a grand adventure. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.” (Shauna Niequest, Bittersweet)
And that is why I chose to have “becoming” tattooed to my wrist. Every single time I look at my left hand, I’m reminded that life is a grand adventure. I’m reminded that the pursuit of perfection isn’t what God created me for. I’m reminded that I am made perfectly in Christ. I’m reminded to trust Him to write my story. I’m reminded to live exuberantly. But, most importantly, I’m reminded to embrace becoming me.
And from where I stand today in 2015, this idea of “becoming” is permeating everything I do. It’s embedded in my writing, engrained in my thoughts, and interwoven in my conversations with those around me. It’s taken root in the reason why I get out of bed every morning and the hope I hang on to when the rain clouds come. Its my passion, my heart’s cry, my word.
I see women around me becoming who God made them to be too. I see them courageously battling life’s struggles and risking loving people who just might not love them back. I see them trying, setting aside the fear of failure and running towards incredible victory. I see life change. I see redemption. I see courage. I see becoming.
This past Fall, I attended a Writer’s Bootcamp with Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt. One of the first challenges they posed to their trainees was simply this: what’s your mission statement? That’s a question I’ve been asked before and tried countless times to define, but in October the words came together like magic in a way only God could orchestrate. You see, that eight-letter word I tattooed on my wrist three years ago has become my mission and I believe the reason God puts air in my lungs.
My battle cry is to invite women on the personal and courageous journey of becoming who God made them to be. That’s why I turn off my alarm clock and get out of bed each morning. That’s why I write. That’s why I dream. In becoming me, I see those around me becoming too and can’t help but be inspired and encouraged on the journey.
This journey isn’t just mine. We are all becoming and I want to invite you to join me. It’s time we lace up our boots, throw fear and perfection into the wind and live fully. Let’s be who God made us to be. Together, let’s become.