Remembering

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In my last post, I talked about “feeling small” and how I needed to be reminded of my amazingness, pretty much.

So I decided to do a little project for myself, if you will.

Honestly, it started as just a chore that had been put off for way too long, anyway…

I decided to clean out the guest room and do some “remodeling,” so to speak.

Since being back home, I’ve claimed some rooms as my personal space for specific reasons.

For example, there’s a room that we like to call the “Red Room” (because the couches are red) and I’ve designated it as my reading and napping room.

I turned the guest room into my own personal sanctuary.

The only thing is that it had previously been just a place for my mom and sis to keep unwanted things that they didn’t really want to get rid of but didn’t have a better place to store them.

If you know anything about cleanliness and peace of mind, you know that a messy room can have an impact on how you experience the living space.

So, the fact that my “sanctuary” was also serving as a junk room wasn’t really something I wanted to continue accepting.

[This is super prophetic if you really dig deep into it.]

But it became my daily place of solace for a number of reasons.

First, I wasn’t sleeping through the night, so I decided to go across the hall and use that as time to pray, read the Word and calm my mind down. I also used it as a private place to take personal phone calls.

[My cousin suggested to me that, in order to help train my body for sleep, I should keep my bedroom as a place to simply sleep. No watching tv, talking on the phone, etc.]

It’s also the place I go to just decompress when I need some minutes to myself during the day. It’s my meditation room.

But, again, it didn’t quite have the feel that I needed.

So, one day a couple of weeks ago, I decided to go through everything, throw out old stuff (which really equated to stuffing some things in various closets and moving junk from one room to the next, if I’m honest).

But the best part about this “project” was the bookshelf.

And this is where the meat of this post really begins.

As I was journeying through the various books that we had collected in the room, I took notice of a few things. One being that I had several novels from my high school and college classes lying around.

Oh, I also need to mention that this room had also always served as an “accomplishment room.” My and my sister’s awards that we collected over the years had been displayed throughout the room.

I came across an award that I didn’t even remember receiving! [Remember, guys, I’ve always been a Superwoman. I received so many awards growing up that it’s hard to keep up!]

So, yeah, I found an award from the English Department that I received at my high school graduation. This is what it reads, “The English Department Award is presented to Jessica Smith for her high academic achievement in Honors English courses and her love of literature.”

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The phrase “love of literature” stuck out to me the most because I’m remembering how much I really do enjoy it. Of course I’ve always loved writing and even reading, but I never thought of it in those terms. Love of literature.

Hey, maybe that’s why I went on to major in Communication and Philosophy in college.

Continuing with the story…

So I noticed all of those books. Most of them I threw into a box because they were irrelevant to where I am right now. But some of them were worth keeping on display.

I reorganized the bookshelf into different sections. The top of the shelf displayed some of my proudest accomplishments, to include my bachelor’s degree, my academic achievement awards in both majors, my graduation cap, and even a few awards I received at the regional level from my sorority.

The first shelf displayed books that I would categorize as “Calling.” They are faith/church-based books and books related to business. I also added my English Department award to this area.

The second shelf is my “Women’s Empowerment” shelf. It contains books written by all female authors. I also included works from women around my age, who might have self-published one or two of their own books. (If you’re into poetry, check out “The Girl with the Pen” by Canden Webb!)

And then the third shelf is all of the awards I received senior year in high school. They’re separated into traditionally academic awards, like the one I received from the Marine Corps and the Arch Diocese of Baltimore, and then awards I received during my track career, such as the Coaches Award and Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Now, in no means am I writing any of this to brag.

I just think it helps paint a fuller picture of 1.) how all of this constant praise and validation through awards fed the flame of Superwoman Syndrome at a young age and 2.) how amazing I am and how that spirit of excellence will always be in me, whether I’m working full time or not!

But I needed to remember.

I needed to build something with my hands, to remember.

I needed to organize all of the junk until it became something beautiful and meaningful.

And I’d say that this is a metaphor, a prophetic picture, of what’s happening in my life in this season.

We’re not sure where we’re going yet, but we’re exploring. We’re uncovering some old things and rediscovering the newness of meaning in them. And we’re expectant to unveil the greater themes and purposes that have been there all along.

And then we’ll look back and have this beautiful “altar” as a place of remembrance.

The Bible is filled with stories of people building memorial altars as a tribute to what God did in that particular place.

One specific story about Jacob is coming to mind.

Then God said to Jacob, ‘Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.’

So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.’ So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. Then they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.

Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed Himself to him when he was feeling from His brother. (Genesis 35:1-7)

Pretty deep, right?

Sometimes I don’t realize how in tune I am to the Spirit of God until I look back and find deeper meaning in why I’m doing what I’m doing. Just like Jacob, I threw out the junk and made space to lift up what God had done in my life.

I want to follow up this post with one that I actually wrote prior to this one. I guess you could call it a short story. I wrote it after having reread a book that I was first introduced to in 9th grade Honors English class. (Go figure!) But releasing it beforehand would’ve been a little confusing to you as readers. It didn’t necessarily fit with the theme I’ve been going with. Yet, now that I’ve done this reflection, there’s clearly so much meaning behind it!

Look in your inbox soon for that post! And please subscribe if you haven’t already!

I guess some final thoughts are for you all to consider taking a stroll down memory lane. Maybe you need to do some soul cleansing. Maybe it’s more basic than that and you actually have chores to do (lol).

But I’ve found that I need to touch things for it to be real to me. I’m a kinesthetic learner. People talk all of the time about vision boards and looking to the future. I’m here to say that there are still treasures in the past if you look closely enough!

God will work with what you’ve got!

And then hopefully that will cast a clearer vision for the future.

As you’re reading this, (if you’re one to read emails as soon as you get them), I’m probably finishing up my quick girls trip to New Orleans!

Stay tuned for a follow-up post on those adventures!

Until Next Time,

Jess

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