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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Calling, Day 5: Ruby Slippers of Courage

Thank you, friends, readers, for your loving and kind response to my most recent entry. I realize how raw and acutely painful that post must have sounded to you. I had one worried phone call last night from a friend who was “just checking up” to make sure that I was OK. The real truth is that post has been percolating for some time now, many months in fact. When I attended a writers’ retreat this past February, there was unimaginable emotional distance that I covered in the span of five solid days of writing. I got up at 5 a.m., went downstairs for a cup of coffee, and began writing until we gathered for breakfast at 8. I wrote until lunch, wrote until dinner, sometimes even wrote after we had all said our goodnights. That week of focused writing propelled me over some of my own walls of safety. I cleared some boundaries of what I would and would not write about, what I would and would not think about. It was where I began to recognize the real stories that needed to be told.

Something happened to me there, and I think it may be been a molting. In fact, it has taken this entire year to of blogging to lose some of the dead skin of fear and self-doubt, and put on the new skin of courage and willingness. I have no doubt this process takes a lifetime.

There was, last fall, the period of days that I could not release the nagging idea that I should do this thing. Blogging. And like many other decisions in my life, once I’d settled on the yes, there was an inner momentum with the force of fierce tornado winds. A house was lifted from its foundations, and when it landed, I was somewhere unexpected and unexplored.

It was Technicolor, and there was no way out but forward.

I have often wished for the magic of Dorothy’s ruby shoes.

Or maybe I have them. Maybe there’s something about calling that is like a pair of ruby shoes that God slips on our feet. It’s just that we don’t ever know how to wear them at first or what purpose they are meant to serve.

If there’s something that I believe now about calling, which I may not have known a year ago, is that you never, never wait till you’ve got the steps of the dance mastered before taking the floor. No, you are as stiff and clumsy as any has-been celebrity on Dancing with the Stars when you wave your flag of readiness, the surrendering “Here I am, Lord.”

Your knees knock to think that He might really take you up on this.

And this is terrific news. Courage for your calling happens on your feet in your street clothes, not on the couch in your pajamas. Let me tell you how completely terrified I am many days to do this. Why had it taken me so long, really? I mean, it has been TEN years that I sensed God calling me to write.

And I have been writing. But the courage to do this here has taken a bit more incubation time. Which is another reminder: nothing needs to be hurried with God. How mercifully patient He is with us. You don’t step into courage like the boots of a firefighter, and you don’t take it off at the end of a day’s long work. That would make courage external and outside of your skin.

The way of calling is interior travel. It is God inside of you, willing and working. You wear it like ruby slippers that you’ve awoken to, surprised at the sparkle at your feet. You figure out just what it means along the way with the help of your Tin Man and Lion and Scarecrow, those fellow travelers God has granted for your journey. Sometimes you are seized by terror but you press ahead, moving with the steady reassurance that your yellow brick road is meant for travel and your slippers made for wear.

You, too, Ferdinand.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7