Today, I received some particularly inspiring words of wisdom from a woman named Maria who attends one of the churches where I volunteer here in New Orleans. Maria is someone who has God’s love shining through every crack and crevice. Despite all the struggles she has experienced (and there have been many), her faith in God remains the driving force in her life. Whenever I see her and ask how she is doing, each time, without fail, she simply smiles and says, “God is good. God is good.”
Maria sat down across from me while I was in the church office, and I assumed we were going to go through the normal, polite “get to know you” small talk. However, she began by saying that she admired me for being so willing to listen for God’s voice. She said that since Katrina, she hadn’t seen many young women like me devote their lives to service and God’s call. These words meant so much to me. Lately, I have been feeling frustratingly small in a big, big world. The little mundane tasks I do every day have made me restless and worry whether I am actually making a difference or doing anything right at all. But Maria’s words comforted me and made me remember why I came to New Orleans in the first place—to do God’s work, to share God’s love. And as long as this love remains the core of each task I perform, then that is all that matters.
She also looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Don’t let anyone else get in the way of you. Put God first but don't forget about yourself. Dream. Travel. I know you are taking some time to find yourself and that is confusing, but you will find who you are. If you remember anything, remember to choose a profession that you love, that makes you happy. Life is more than just about making a dollar. So many people out there think that life isn’t worth living, and that is a sad thing because God is good.”
That advice is priceless. And to think that she said it to me so frankly and unexpectedly, not knowing the profound impact this she has on me. It was a breath of fresh air, a reassurance that God works in mysterious ways, and I am here for a reason. I told her about my passion for writing, and I have always been scared of following it for fear it will produce no money or that I will never be good enough. However, I am starting to see the truth of this fear is only as true as I let it be. Being here in New Orleans and talking to such a beautiful person like Maria is making me realize how you have to stay connected to that place burrowed deep inside your heart that makes you truly happy. No matter what external forces are raging their wars against you. That's where God is. That's where the love is kept. That's where you are.
I've got about 6,000 words of my novel down. Not bad for 3 days. Trying to shut down the pestering internal editor and to just write freely, letting those words come no matter how insane they look on the page. As crazy as this whole novel in a month thing is I am loving it already. The characters are having strange impulses; thus creating subplots I didn't know imaginable. Awesome! Thank you NaNoWriMo, for opening up a door inside I have been unable to unhinge for most of my life. It's about to get tough in the next couple weeks as I crank out words left and right, but I am hanging in there!
My parents are coming to visit this weekend. So excited to see them! I need a taste from home. Overall, things are well. Laughing a TON, which is great. Getting busy yes. Starting a youth group from scratch for both of my churches is going to be hard, along with stepping outside of my comfort zone and juggling various other tasks, but Maria's presence and her words continually echo in my mind, tiny lanterns lighting my path. "God is good. God is good..."
"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude. "