How God made art from my mess
“I felt as if
I were walking with destiny
and that all my past life
had been but a preparation
for this hour
and for this trial…
I was sure I should not fail.”
– Winston Churchill
Sometimes I wonder what God is up to. His timing is never mine. His methods—suffering, waiting, and heartache—are not mine. His plan is not mine.
But in glimpses, I see what He’s up to. I step back from the dailiness and notice how He’s incrementally moved me all along, without my awareness, to the future He pre-planned. My past life informs my right-now life to impact my future life.
This is the story of how God’s faithfulness, grace, and redemptive power have merged with my mess to create a beautiful design of God-art.
God is faithful.
I’m a writer and speaker, and while that’s a natural statement now, it wasn’t always.
“Veterinarian” was the answer I gave as a child when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s why I chose Texas A&M: to pursue veterinary medicine. Then I worked at a vet clinic and realized that the animals didn’t talk back. So I switched plans and majored in journalism even though I didn’t want to be a reporter. I simply wanted to know how to communicate with people because that’s a skill employers don’t teach.
Unbeknownst to me, God planted a desire in my heart to use words to share truth with others.
He orchestrated my past experiences and skills to lead me to today. As a little girl, I taught my dolls instead of mothering them. In high school, I was a yearbook staffer. In college, I joined organizations that focused on teaching through public speaking. And in my career, every job had a teaching, speaking, and communicating component.
God’s been faithful when I’ve been faithless. He’s pursued my heart’s desire for me before I even knew what it was.
He’s never failed me. Never walked away. Never turned His back. He is faithful.
God is gracious.
The Jill you read on the screen seems organized, complete with headlines and headshots and real-life examples, but I have stories for my intros because my life is less than picture perfect. Yet, God, in His grace, has given me so many gifts.
The friends I have, the parents who raised me, and the husband who loves me are skilled and patient to handle my mess and love me anyway… that’s grace.
The words He gives me to write and speak… that’s grace.
Having readers and encouragers of my work… that’s grace.
Grace, grace, everything is grace.
He’s also given me two far greater, invisible grace gifts: my salvation and my freedom. He pursued and rescued me when I wanted nothing to do with Him. And God set me free from my need to perform, to please all the people, and to push myself when it wasn’t healthy.
Grace, grace, amazing grace. He is gracious.
God redeems our messy past to bring Him glory.
I agree with Churchill—all my past life has been but a preparation for today. All those years of writing, teaching, and communicating have prepared me to share God’s truth with women.
Had I not been an Achiever, I could never help others through it.
Had I not struggled with baby weight (a.k.a. my desperate need to be in control), I could never relate with those who hurt.
Had I not co-opted perfectionism, I could never write about a God who is perfect but not a perfectionist.
Had I not wrestled with grace, I never could have studied it, accepted it, and given it to others.
I would never know what I know about God, you – my sweet reader, and myself if I hadn’t struggled the way I’ve struggled. For this I know to be true:
All my sin and shame has led me to Him, and He has led me to write.
We are each called to testify to the gospel of grace and to share how God has led us through our hurt, fear, and sin. And while I wish I could’ve avoided the hurt that my misunderstandings and strict standards inflicted on my heart, God has repurposed it for good.
God is in the business of taking mess and making it art. He redeems.
My life won’t involve saving people from a maniacal dictator like Churchill’s did. But I do know this: my past has been a preparation for this calling, and I’m grateful that a faithful, gracious, and redeeming God will never fail. I have been the recipient of God’s mercy and kindness, a girl who’s had her life of mess turned into a work of art.