What are you doing when your soul is deeply glad?

This is a post is part of a series based on questions from Steve Wiens' book Beginnings. To learn more, check out this post. I love for you to join me by linking up with your own post, or commenting below. 

Today's question comes from page 76, at the end of the chapter called "Seeds." It is a chapter that asks about what gifts within us are longing to be born.

Last year, my One Word 365 was TOV. That's what this chapter is all about.

what makes your soul glad

Questions about gifts and purpose and calling and "what is God's will for our lives" tend to loom large in Christian circles. Naming our gifts can feel like standing in the street naked... in the winter... with a crowd looking on. Is the vulnerability worth it? Meanwhile, the idea of God's will can feel like a frantic search for the x on a treasure map. If we don't get to just the right spot, will we miss it?

All this leads to a tension. On the one hand, we feel the pull to live a life of purpose and meaning. We long to use the gifts within us to bring good things to the world. On the other hand, we feel the pull to avoid the questions that feel too big and risky to answer.

Which is why I love turning questions of calling into questions of delight. We may not be able to articulate our best gifts, but we can often name what brings us joy. What if reflecting on the things that delight us is what opens the door to learn more about our truest selves? What if it shrinks the big questions into pieces we can move towards one step at a time? 

Here's my challenge for all of us today. Let's make a list- What are the big and small things we do that bring our souls gladness, joy, and fulfillment? Here are some of mine:

  • Engaging in deep, meandering conversations in which no one notices how much time has passed.
  • Eating delicious food.
  • Teaching the Scriptures and helping people see their relevance.
  • Helping people unlock their potential.
  • Listening to music I love.
  • Cooking.
  • Traveling.
  • Running through the woods on a beautiful day.
  • Watching people's eyes light up with the reality of learning something new at just the right moment.
  • Leading a meeting. (Seriously. I have so much fun leading engaging meetings, and I hate sitting through boring ones.)
  • Hosting people at my house.
  • Laughing with my children.
  • Snuggling with my husband.

Now, let's look through our lists- Are there any threads connecting pieces? How might those threads lead us? 

For me, the most noticeable thread is people. I am a people-person through and through. This tells me something important about how God has wired me and what kinds of seeds I may be designed to plant in this world.

Maybe with lists like these, the question of calling can feel a little less scary... and a lot more fun.

- Steph


Your turn: What are you doing when your soul is deeply glad?

If  you are a blogger, link up with your post below. If you are not a blogger, you can also link up to an Instagram post, how cool is that? Or, maybe now is the the time to step out of the shadows and respond with a comment. I promised I will reply to all comments left. 


Now it's time for next week's question, from page 109 of Beginnings, "How would you describe the season you find yourself in these days?"

Come back next week to link up and respond. 

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What are some things you may need to let go of?

This is a blog series with posts based on questions. I hope you respond to the questions as well, on your own blog, in the comments, or just in your journal at home. I hope it helps this blog become more of a conversation than a monologue. I also hope it helps us all wrestle through the important stuff of life and faith, the kind of stuff we might ignore if left to our own devices. You can read more background and hopes here.

The first set of questions will come from Steve Wien's book, Beginnings, which I highly recommend you buy and read. However, you are welcome to participate even if you haven't read it, just by tackling the questions.

Our first question comes from page 44, at the end of Day Two, when God creates an expanse between the waters, preparing the creation for the life that is coming next.

what do you need to let go of in order to expand into who you need to become?

What are some things you think you may need to let go of in order to expand into who you need to become?

I sat across from him on the couch, legs criss-cross applesauce, listening intently. He was talking about the future of some projects we were working on together. My eyes and ears were glued to the wisdom of this older man whom I respect beyond compare. Until the conversation turned, and he began to say something affirming about me. Then, I shifted in my seat and turned my gaze to the floor. When he asked me what I was thinking, my normal ability to put thoughts into words became a stammer of "ums and ahhs." Until I blurted out, 

"But who am I?"

I followed that statement with all sorts of rational objections to his affirmations. Who am I to do these things you think I can do? Who am I for God to call me forth in that kind of way? Who am I to.... 

He looked at me, and with a conviction beyond his normal tone said, "That question is the biggest thing holding you back right now. You have to let it go."

I veer down the "who am I" road of self-doubt without conscious thought on a regular basis. It's a well-worn road that seems to draw me away whenever I look down the less-predictable and uncleared ways of affirmation and calling. 

I'm in good company on the "who am I" road. Moses thought a better speaker would have been more qualified. Jeremiah thought he was much too young. Peter went back to fishing for awhile. Self-doubt is not a new development in our human condition. 

Sometimes we even mislabel self-doubt as humility. We don't think we are supposed to see and say what we are good at doing. We fear looking conceited. Yet, Jesus was clearly humble and clearly confident at the same time. He knew his calling, he knew his gifts, and he pursued them whole-heartedly. If he is our model of what it means to be fully-human, how can we follow him down that path?

I've had a few experiences recently in which I have used my gifts and thought afterwards, "That was good." Which, honestly, feels uncomfortable. I am getting scratched by some thorns on this less-cleared way of seeing my own potential. It feels so deeply vulnerable to name our gifts. So, the "Who am I" road starts pulling me back: What if it turns out I'm wrong? What if I fail, and I'm not good at this after all? What if I look foolish? What if...? 

I love this quote by Marianne Williamson (often misattributed to Nelson Mandela),

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I am learning to be free. I am learning to choose the path of confidence instead of the road of self-doubt. As I clear out the overgrowth, I'm discovering the surroundings are much more expansive than I realized. 

- Steph


Your turn: What are some things you think you may need to let go of in order to expand into who you need to become?

If  you are a blogger, link up with your post below. If you are not a blogger, you can also link up to an Instagram post, how cool is that? Or, maybe now is the the time to step out of the shadows and respond with a comment. I promised I will reply to all comments left. 

There is risk, but there is also great power, in sharing our longings out loud.


Now, it's time to reveal next week's question, from page 76 of Beginnings, "What are you doing when your soul is deeply glad?" 

That's going to be a vulnerable one, friends. But let's do it. Let's have the guts to say these things out loud.

What do you most long to hear from God these days?

Last week, I posted about a fresh new beginning for this blog, with posts based on questions. Questions I hope you respond to as well, on your own blog, in the comments, or just in your journal at home. I hope it helps this blog become more of a conversation than a monologue. I also hope it helps us all wrestle through the important stuff of life and faith, the kind of stuff we might ignore if left to our own devices. You can read more background and hopes here.

The first set of questions will come from Steve Wien's book, Beginnings, which I highly recommend you buy and read. However, you are welcome to participate even if you haven't read it, just by tackling the questions.

Our first question comes from page 25, at the end of Day One, when God says, "Let there be light." It is a chapter about God ushering us into new beginnings. 

long to hear from God

What do you most long to hear from God these days?

What do I think I should want to hear from God? What would it sound good to say I wanted to hear from God? What do I wish I wanted to hear from God? What do I  actually long to hear from God? 

If you're like me, you had to wrestle through the first few questions to get to the heart of the actual question for today. It's amazing how difficult it can be to stay in touch with our own desires and needs. We slip on people-pleasing and religious posturing like the comfortable sweatshirt from high school we can't bear to part with, even though it's full of holes and does nothing to keep us warm. Then, wrapped up in that, we convince ourselves that's what a sweatshirt is supposed to feel like, and it's truly what we want and need.

I'm taking off that tattered sweatshirt today. I'm not even taking it to Goodwill- I don't want anyone else to pick it up and think they are stuck with it, too. Nope, this baby is going straight to the trash.

What do I most long to hear from God these days? That I can be free.

Free from people-pleasing. Free from the swirling questions about what others are thinking about me that seem to be my constant companion. Free from using food as a drug to ease my pain, soothe my boredom, or reward me for my hard work. Free from answering questions about how I am doing with how everyone around me is feeling. Free from the shaming voice that instantly notices all the things I could have done better. Free from working to try to earn my belovedness. 

Free to be fully present to the present moment. Free to walk confidently in my calling without fear of how others will respond. Free to laugh and be ridiculous, even if people are looking. Free to embrace the strength of my vulnerability and the reality of my neediness. Free to love and be loved without trying so damn hard. Free to be me- the messed-up me, the extraordinary me, the regular-ole me, the creative me, the compassionate me, the whole me, the true me.

I long to hear God say that freedom is possible, freedom is coming, and freedom can be my new way of being. I long for affirmation that the hard emotional work I have done over the last few years has led me here, to the cultivated soil now ready to sprout with free and reckless life.  

"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand!" -Gal 5:1 (The Message)

I'm ready.

- Steph

P.S. I've been thinking about what my OneWord 365 should be. Sounds like I found one: FREE.

(Keep reading to enter the link-up, to see next week's question, and to find out who won the free book from the post on New Beginnings.)

Your turn: What are you longing to hear from God these days?

If  you are a blogger, link up with your post below. If you are not a blogger, you can also link up to an Instagram post, how cool is that? Or, maybe now is the the time to step out of the shadows and respond with a comment. I promised I will reply to all comments left. 

There is risk, but there is also great power, in sharing our longings out loud.


Now, it's time to reveal next week's question, from page 44 of Beginnings, "What are some things you think you may need to let go of in order to expand into who you need to become?"

Finally, the winner of a copy of Beginnings is... Crosby Kuehl! Congrats. I'll email to figure out details of getting you a copy. There were only 5 entries, so I went old school and literally wrote out names and picked from a hat. :)