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This place was my favorite place. The old house that told many stories through all its creaks, secret doors and peeling layers of wallpaper.
A little bit scary, but mostly awesome.
I'm affected by the visual, and I like to imagine.
This was a great house for me.
My favorite spot was the tree house. I'd always wanted a secret lair surrounded by branches. I'd try to keep my brothers out, and I'd retreat with my stack of books and get lost in other worlds. These were the years of Harriet the Spy, Famous Five, Encyclopedia Brown and the rest of my favorite childhood reading adventures.
My memories of home in that little town are so powerful and strong, it was my safe place and sanctuary. I still dream about that house. Yet that season was also a deep time of rejection. It's not easy to start over. It's hard to be new, and for my young heart it was a painful place when I had to go outside the brick walls and leave my beloved tree house behind.
I still remember the dagger-like words, what I was wearing and places I stood. Hate that was thrown.
So I created a mental escape. Every night in bed, I'd imagine this machine. It was like a slide. I'd start at the top as myself, then when I came out on the bottom I was whoever I wanted to be.
I'd imagine myself beautiful.
I'd imagine myself popular.
I'd imagine myself loved by everyone.
I'd imagine myself not as myself.
Those daydreams helped me cope.
Life went on. We moved again. I grew up. I worked years on overcoming hurts from the past, knowing there is healing for deep wounds. Yet, some days the past pops back in for a visit and tries to take over the future.
I'm back on that playground, the biggest misfit the world has ever seen.
Where is my slide?
Do you ever find that inadequacy can creep in slowly? Envy sneaks in and tries to rear its ugly face? Hurt slaps you in the face when you least expect it? If you're not careful, soon you've gone down a rabbit trail of perfectly filtered Instagram life that is unattainable. Or you look around in social settings with the inner observation that the whole world is so much better than you. You put on past pain like a pair of glasses that affects the lens through which you see.
You have missed out. Your endeavors have been a joke. You don't belong. Nothing good ever happens. Why do I even try?
This is the lie of our culture.
That we are not enough.
As a result, we waste time and energy on thoughts and feeling that rob us of joy and cause us to miss our own significant moments. We let our past experiences affect our future destinations.
Don't get stuck in that place.
I've have a little secret, one that I've trained myself to do over the last couple years. I don't do it naturally; I do it intentionally. It takes effort and commitment, but I have learned I can control the way I think. When I feel that sting or pang I can change the course of my thoughts, I can adjust my focus.
I look doubt and rejection in the eye. I know who I am.
Give inadequacy a swift kick. I can do all things.
Stomp my foot hard. I won't get stuck here.
I am exactly who I'm meant to be.
Fearfully and wonderfully made.
Living life where I'm called.
With purpose set out before me.
Trusting the one who gives me all things.
Pack the slide away and don't hide in the tree house. Instead, be all that you've been created to be. Learn to celebrate others in their journey, while at the same time embracing the places and spaces where you are.
There's room for all.
We are all enough.
Shelly Calcagno is a Toronto-based author and speaker.
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