Collide blog two pictures of the same woman side by side smiling and then making a silly face

Out of the Shadows

The Your Stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…

I have spent my entire life making myself small. I don’t want to stand out. I don’t want to look stupid. I want to be below the radar. Depending on who I am talking to, what I share and who I am shifts. I have gotten really good at muting parts of myself for some people and letting other parts stand out because I don’t know how others will receive me. As a result, I haven’t been completely honest about who I am with anyone. Bottom line, I am terrified of being rejected. The truth is God has freed me from many things. For the most part, though, I have kept myself and those things hidden from the world because of that fear.

Pastor Bill Giovannetti said, “Jesus came to un-change me, not to change me.” He strips away all the things getting in the way of who He created us to be and invites us to follow Him; to step out from behind our insecurities, fears, mistakes, troubled pasts, addictions, and distractions. He beckons us out of the shadows and into the light. He invites us to come on an amazing adventure. The gift of it is overwhelming because like a diamond in the rough, who we really are is still there under the layers God strips away.

He is so good. We don’t trust Him. We fight Him. We run from Him then, when we stop and begin to trust Him, He “un-changes us.” The crazy thing is none of that stops God from wanting to give us the gifts He has for us. He wants us to use them for Him and others but they are for us as well.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (NIV)

All gifts are good but especially the gifts from God because He is good. I used to have the misconception that a gift from God would be boring and stodgy or would lead to me to becoming some kind of missionary in the Amazon jungle. While that may be a good gift to some people, it isn’t a good gift to me. I hate snakes… ew.  

God knows us because He created us. Every part of us, including our personality, likes and dislikes, are wonderfully made. I can’t imagine a God who so lovingly created us would give us gifts that are bad or boring to us.  

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

For as long as I can remember, I have been a writer. When I was a kid, I wrote in a red diary covered in teddy bears. As I grew up, I transitioned from journals decked with flowers to a laptop. Writing has been one of the constants in my life. For many years I buried it, thinking it a waste of my time. Recently, God reminded me that it is part of who I am; the person He created. I am a writer. It’s hard for me to even write those words because I am not very good at it yet. I haven’t been practicing so I have a lot to learn. I have recently accepted that it’s part of who I am though. It is how God wired me. Because I love Him and He loves me, I want to allow Him to restore this piece of me that was lost over the years. My favorite section of the Bible is Isaiah 61, which is a prophecy about Jesus. Verses 1-4 state:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because he the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (NIV)

I am in the process of letting God rebuild, restore, and renew my life. I am going to let Him do that with writing too. I love doing it and am going to choose to receive the gift of it. I have to choose to receive it because it’s hard. It feels selfish at times, like I shouldn’t enjoy it. Part of me also feels like I don’t deserve it. I have struggled with trusting Him with so many things and yet He preserved in me the desire to write. It was waiting. He freed me and is refining me and is now helping me to stand and step into what He has for me. I am crying as I am writing this because writing was a big part of my childhood. It was in my journal where I first met God and where I processed the pain and joy in my life. I am the one who didn’t trust Him and yet He has good gifts for me. His goodness is overwhelming. What a joy it is deep in my soul to be able to write these words. It’s like a part of me has come back together.

Being freed by Jesus is incredible, life changing, and honestly is enough. The reason I love Isaiah 61 is because it is true for me. Every time I read those words I am reminded of how far He has brought me. Unbelievably, He has more for me. He freed me for something good and He frees you for something good too; the something you were created to do.  

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

He brings beauty from the ashes of our lack of trust in Him which, at its core, is what sin really is. To have the privilege of doing what God created you to do brings a deep soul satisfaction unlike anything else. It’s almost like coming home. I don’t deserve the overwhelming gift of it but am going to choose to accept it and to push past the fear and insecurity. God calls us out of the darkness and into His light and He promises to be with us every step of the way.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

He has saved me from so much but I don’t have much to give back to Him. All I have to offer is my life with its failures, weaknesses, struggles, and successes. I will give them all back to Him through writing. This post is my first step into the light. I am putting a piece of the real me into the world, using the gift He has given me. I am not scared to take this step anymore because Jesus is with me.  

What is that thing buried deep within you? The old thing that you thought was dead? What is holding you back from stepping out of the shadows and into the light? He created you for something good; something that will bless others as well as yourself. No, you aren’t perfect. None of us are. God does His best work with people in process; people who struggle and fail but who are dependent on Him. He uses those people because they point to His power to rebuild, restore, and renew. He is with you and only He has the power to restore you to His original design. Let Him pull you out of the shadows and into His wonderful light.

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  • Joyce Siden says:

    Wonderful and inspiring. Thank you.

  • Jenine says:

    Your words spoken right to my heart. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jeanne says:

    WOW. I am in awe. Humbled and inspired by your words. You are a giant in my eyes for how I view you and your faith. The Lord has blessed you with an author’s touch. Thank you for being brave and sharing under His authority and protection.

  • Stefany says:

    That is really beautiful. You did an amazing job…. and look Ms. Mia has this amazing gift too…

  • Joanna Smith says:

    Meaningful writing. I like the phrase “unchanging “, even at my age, he is still “unchanging “ me. Enjoy your change, you are beautiful!

  • Glenda says:

    What a blessing to see inside your ongoing journey. I am so excited that you are choosing to continue your growth journey with writing. It is absolutely brave and wonderful! Thank you for sharing both the struggle and your strength while highlighting God’s gift to you. I look forward to reading much more from your heart and mind.

  • Phyllis says:

    Very encouraging and all so very true. Thank you for your story and sharing your heart. It is hard to trust God at any age, and yet He is so faithful and patient and we are all on a spiritual journey our Pastor tells us every weekend. It just seems strange though that we really are. Lord bless you for your courage.

  • Kristen Mattila says:

    Very inspiring blog post! Thank you for sharing your heart 🙂

  • Debra Dawn Kendall says:

    Hi Anna! I attended the Collide event “Out of Hiding” last night and was truly inspired. After Willow read a part of your blog post I told myself to remember, so in the morning I could read it.
    You are a Writer Anna! This is the gift that God has so graciously given you – use it! I cannot even begin to tell you how much this blog of yours has touched me.
    I don’t know you, but I am excited for you, to see your next writing, and the next , and the next!! You go girlfriend!!
    I have that fear also, of not being gifted enough, smart enough, witty enough, brave enough, to step out and write. I used to write all the time, have have a plastic bin full of journals. I am even a published writer with Chicken Soup for Soul, a story I wrote in 1999. It was published in 2000 in their book Chicken Soup for the Parents Soul.
    I have not written anything since then. Fear. Life. Broken heart. Failures. Not worthy, and on and on.
    You have inspired me Anna. I feel the flickering of a little flame inside of me.
    Thank you for Coming out of Hiding, being Brave, and writing your story.
    With Gratefulness, Debra

    • Kenna Kloes says:

      We’re so glad you joined us at the event and were moved by Michel’s story and blog. She is an incredible writer.