Learning to Be All the Things

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve taken a break from Beyond Waiting for a season. I had been pursuing other things for a while, and this just seemed to be taking up more time I didn’t feel I had to spend. And, to be honest, there was always The Fear.

The Fear has been there since the idea for Beyond Waiting first sprouted in my mind. The Fear that nonfiction was out of my comfort zone. The Fear that my voice would just be adding to the noise (because there is a lot of noise when it comes to singleness and praying God will bring the right man along soon). The Fear of branding.

That was one thing I had learned about the publishing industry. You had to be branded, like cattle, which sounds like a painful and demeaning exercise to me. I was scared of it anyway—to be crammed so precisely inside a box and confined to writing in a way my readers would expect. I had bigger dreams than that. I read all the things and I wanted to write all the things.

Except this thing. Because if there was one thing I knew for certain, even at eighteen years old, it was that I did not want to be branded as the Singleness Guru.

Still, in obedience—often begrudging obedience—I wrote the book, published it through ANM Press, and left God to do the rest. That was part of the deal. I would write it and He would market it, and I wouldn’t have to worry my pretty little head about what became of Beyond Waiting.

I moved on with my life, trying to leave that book in the past as much as conviction would deem possible. I started writing what I always wanted to write. It was only fair, I reasoned.

In writing fiction, I’ve managed to push everything else aside. I told myself my moments were better sent ironing the wrinkles out of this novel I’ve created. I blamed Time. I blamed Priorities and Calling and a handful of fictional characters who pop into my thoughts at any given moment.

But I never blamed The Fear. And I certainly never blamed Resentment.

Yes, in many ways, I resent writing Beyond Waiting. I resent that this is the work that declared me “published.” I resent that I’m going to have to try explaining it to a secular publisher some day. I resent that it might make the marketing people want to publish me under a pen name. You guys had better believe I’ve spent the last month praying I’m married or at least engaged before my first novel comes out… just in case I need an alternate name that is, in fact, my own.

That’s how much I resent Beyond Waiting.

But this morning… This morning I got online and I thought to myself, “I really should check the Beyond Waiting email. It probably has tons of junk that needs cleaned out.”

And it did. I deleted no fewer than forty-three emails. But there were also a rare couple of gems in there. Two people had popped in to tell me how they had just become acquainted with my words.

I turned my rolling eyes heavenward. “You would work like that. You would wait until I have nothing new to say. You would introduce someone to an article I wrote four years ago and then have her tell me it was still fresh and relevant to her today.”

God laughed, because sometimes He’s a little too pleased with His clever ways. But then He said something serious, a hint of that smile still tugging at His lips. “Rebekah, you try so hard to compartmentalize your life. I want you to be all the things.”

I know there’s a verse in 1 Corinthians about being all things to all people, but I thought that was about meeting people where they are at. So here I am, arguing with God about the proper interpretation of that verse—okay, whatever, God, just change the meaning as You see fit—and finally concluding with: “I’m not big enough!”

“But I AM.”

I AM. It’s a name, it’s a statement, it’s a fragment for crying out loud. I AM… what? What exactly are You? God’s the only person I know who can perfectly sum Himself up without even bothering to finish that sentence.

I AM.

You are. You are, You are, You are.

And because He is, I have far more power than I ever gave myself credit for. But then, I don’t deserve the credit anyway.

Lately, I’ve been writing for myself. I mean, I hope one day the words I’ve been painstakingly crafting will be shared with the world, but for the moment, they’re mine alone. And I’ve gotten pretty selfish in my unsharing.

But if there’s one thing I agree with God on this morning, it’s that He didn’t give me words so I could lock them away. As this stunning article I read just yesterday informed me, “Nothing beautiful belongs behind barbs.”

So I’ll be back, dear ones, with the words I’ve been so hesitant to say. And Katie and Rebekah, I fully intend to respond to your emails personally, because they are beautiful, and you are beautiful, and you’ve reminded me of  the reason I’m on this earth.

I’m truly and finally thankful for this space and the people who make it worth coming home to. See you soon, lovelies.

Letting Down My Hair

Last night did not go according to plan. I walked into Bible Study intending to reinvent myself. To be a louder, bolder version of Rebekah Snyder. To finally carve a little space for myself in the midst of this community. This didn’t happen for a couple reasons. One: an old friend showed up, so of course we spent the evening catching up on life. Two: I looked around the houseful of thirty-some people and could practically feel myself shrinking, wallflower that I am.

When I woke up this morning, I had no intention to write a blog post, at least not on Beyond Waiting. I was going to write something very poetic about wallflowers on my other blog.

Wait, what? Rebekah has another blog?

I first started rebekahsnyder.wordpress.com so I could play around with formats without completely ruining this blog. I threw the first three posts up there just so I could get a feel for the layout. And then I wrote something else. Something that was probably the most vulnerable piece I have ever written, but I couldn’t post it here. Mostly because I didn’t want to risk the subject seeing it, but also because it didn’t fit the style I had created for this blog. And that is how Vagabond became the home for all the words that haunt me.

The ones that aren’t safe. The ones that aren’t pretty. The ones that don’t fit the image I have crafted for this space.

So why would I mention it now?

Here of late, I’ve become painfully aware that I’ve lived the majority of my life on a pedestal of sorts, and it’s getting really old. When I wrote a friend about how I feel like Rapunzel alone in her tower, longing to commit pedestal suicide, she asked me a very pointed and troubling question:

“Who are you, sweet girl? Who are you when the perfectionism falls to the ground and all that is left is you? Who is that girl? Does she come out to other people? Or, is she all alone in the tower?”

tower prison

I realize my pedestal is something I have crafted with my own two hands, and this morning, as I started dreaming up a post for Vagabond, I realized it was just another way of hiding. And I heard That Voice, clear and strong: “Rebekah, Rebekah, let down your hair.”

So I’ve decided to stop hiding. I’ve decided to come out right here on this blog and confess that, yes, perfectionism has clung to me like a second skin, but I am oh so tired of not wearing my own.

While this blog has shifted and grown so much over the years, it has never been completely real. Although everything I have shared has been truth, I’ve never been fully honest. I’ve tried to be strong. I’ve tried to be the encourager. I have tried to be light in this world.

But I’ve never let down my hair. I’ve never come out of the tower. I’ve never told you that I might actually be Rapunzel. Oh yes, I Rapunzel so hard these days.

So I want to invite you to read the post that I first protected like a secret. Oddly enough, it, too, is about Rapunzel. I think it’s pretty beautiful. In fact, there are a few posts on that blog of which I am truly proud.

I just wanted to let you all know that I am coming out, at least, on the days I feel brave enough. Thank you so much for continuing to return and make me feel like my voice matters. Until next time…

let down your hair