– Dana Smith, Women’s Equipping Coordinator
I knew where the battle for my heart was going before I began.
I saw the changes in my sister. I saw my friends’ head shakes of sentiments too deep to express. I knew the stories of men shedding armor or putting it on. I heard of the breaking of generational sin. So, I knew something about this experience was going to be extra deep and complex. But I was entering into battle with a secret. Let me go back.
It was a conscious decision God worked in me to start the battle for my heart “all in”
Before going through the Battle for the Heart process, I was discipled alongside a best friend by a godly elder’s wife in our church. For just shy of ten years, we spent hours each week drinking tea, sharing our hearts, and urging one another closer and closer to the Father. They loved me when I was genuinely unlovable, challenged me to repentance and deeper trust, pressed in close and urged me toward more grace, and called glory out of me before any of us knew that’s what we were doing. I had and knew true fellowship.
But in regard to my deepest desires, the voice of evil kept this fellowship from having any real chance of getting all of me. That voice shouted shame and condemnation, snarling and spitting that I was a phony, a wannabe, an imposter—and the only way to keep from being exposed as such was to keep my own voice quiet.
Problem was: God made me to be a writer.
Therefore I wanted to be a writer. And that writer wanted to get to writing. All my life words sang to me, syllables counting off in my head, characters bowing and introducing themselves with a wink and a knowing smile—books crept up inside and poured concrete encampment walls. And evil would have none of it. Writing was for others: for the smarter, wittier, more engaging, and how could I possibly think myself any of those things? There was no way evil was going to allow me to connect with God so personally through something I loved so deeply.
A college professor, handing out papers from the front of the room paused in the calling of names and looked me in the eye. “Never stop writing,” he said. He knew.
I wrote a novel and only my husband knew.
If a tree falls in a forest…
For better or worse, in our church there’s lots of talk about how the Battle for the Heart’s reputation precedes it. I’m so thankful it did. It’s reputation forced me into a decision—whether or not I was going to flip the switch. I knew what I was getting into; I knew I was conceding to being simultaneously armed and disarmed. I knew where we were heading and I couldn’t go along unless I let others see all of the real me. It was a conscious decision God worked in me to choose to start the battle for my heart “all in.” Before I knew the vocabulary, he was wooing me to own my desires for impact, contribution, and beauty. And he wasn’t just asking me to own these desires, but to also reveal them to the fellowship. He was calling me to worship him publically with my words.
Books are gifts to me. My knees would quake at a real life sighting of Abraham Verghese or Anne Lamott, and I would full on fan girl to meet Barbara Kingsolver. Those writers gave me a gift—they offered their full selves. They wrote for me, and we will never meet. They weren’t thinking of me when they drummed up the dusty devastation of Addis Ababa or concocted the perfect pairing of Appalachian coyote migration and star-crossed lovers. But someone else did, or rather, Someone Else did. Someone Else was thinking all about me when he breathed cosmic molecules into the palm of his hand and contrived his story. And that Someone Else wants me to participate in his plan; he wants the obedience of my full offering. And go figure, I am more connected with him when I write. My flying fingers commune with and honor the Creator God when they pick up the toddler-sized paintbrush of my meager metaphors. But my Daddy loves me crazy love. I look at a crystalline pink sunset and hear him say paint like this.
Oh how I want to return love to Him by fully stepping into my story…
What is at stake? I’m no Barbara Kingsolver. And they never let me into medical school, so I’m sure as heck no Abraham Verghese. But God made me, too. Like this. And he made me as a reflection of himself, with this voice, and these quirks, and these successes and failings, and this domain to love. Oh how I want to return love to him by fully stepping into my story…experiencing my story in words…writing alongside my story…sometimes writing my way through my story, and even more so, calling others to engage their story with a bit more courage.
God has allowed me to be at the helm of two collaborative projects, one finished and one in-process. Yes, I was the tip of the spear for both, but the meat, the weightiness of both spears has been and continues to be in the contributions of the women who collaborated with me. And oh how proud I am of what they’ve done. I asked them to write me something. And they said, “Ok.” And then they emailed me a piece that would wreck me for hours or give me the residual chuckles—you know the kind. Yes, I’m a writer, but I’m really a curator—a collector of the deep gospel reverb I hear in the lives of those I know or am introduced to. I ask for the translation of those low gongs into words capable of affecting others and their own relationships with Jesus. I ask them to step into a place of great potential for gospel impact. I ask them to step out in courage so they might urge others to do the same.
Can I really play my part? Me? This fearful, doubting, sin-rife, conflicted soul? I’m weird and wordy and I annoy even myself with great regularity… Eyes up, dear one. Maybe the question really is, is he big enough?
“Ok, God, here we go. All in.”
One Step Further:
- Where is God calling you to be “all in?”
- What is keeping you from entering in with strength and love? (i.e. What fear or lie is holding you back?)
- What could be the gain to you, to God, to your domain if you were to step out in faith where God is asking you to?