One Year In - jennwhitmer.com

Feb 6, 2020

One Year In

In my deepest of hearts, if I learn something, I want to help you learn it too. It just bubbles out in excitement or pours out from pain. I really can’t get away from that calling. I don’t know how to be any other way.

Also ever-present in my life: more-is-always-better!!! So let’s help more people! I’ve always dreamed of helping lots of people, people I love and people I hadn’t met yet. I mean, that’s what teachers do, right? We help groups of people learn new skills that change how they live, how they feel, and what they believe is possible.

Not everyone was so on board with my dream. Or I should say with my calling looking different than the expected, contained, manageable picture they held. 

I spent a long time listening to some voices that offered help that actually harmed over time— You shouldn’t want to teach. That is too big. Just do this type of teaching. You shouldn’t want more. You should just be content where you are. You just want this to be about you. You can’t because you’re a woman. Know-it-all. Who are you to think this is for you?

After years, they didn’t even have to say it anymore. I had already swallowed the lies. They were just scripts in my mind. I had allowed well-intentioned, yet misguided, advice squash my calling.

Have you been there? Wanting to be wise and getting the advice of Job’s friends? Meant in love, but functioning as shame?

Teachers help groups of people learn new skills that change how they live, how they feel, and what they believe is possible.

I’ve laid down the calling a thousand times. I tried to stay quiet, intentionally holding back the effervescence of teaching and learning. But it just keeps coming back, a bit like Groundhog’s Day.

It came back when near-strangers would ask me how to give them advice. When colleagues encouraged me to write more. When friends would ask me to teach their friends. When people would say, “I never understood that before.” When I held the mic, I could see the faces laughing and the heads nodding and the hands writing. People were learning and growing right before my eyes. And I would know deep in my soul, this is what God designed me for.

Believing the scripts in my head, I also thought this calling had to have a small, specific expression. Just one way this teaching could play out in my life.

Phew…I had made a cozy home in my smallness. I could blame the lies and the shoulds and my limited vision for my discontentment and never try. To never be obedient to fully investigate the calling God planted in my heart.

Annie F. Downs wrote, “One calling. Multiple expressions. Be brave and explore them.” 

So a choice was before me: restrict the calling or reject the lies. Rejecting the lies required courage. Releasing the calling required bravery. 

What could this calling look like? Helping people through the types of joy and pain I walked through. Arthur Ashe was right—“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” 

Where are you? What do you have? Who is right in front of you to help?

I mentioned to a colleague I wanted to explore this idea of teaching in a new way. She jumped at the chance to have me train at a conference. I sat stunned. Really?

I had spent so many years listening to the fear, I almost missed the joy. 

I had made a cozy home in my smallness.

I started to dream again and got to work. A year ago, I built a website, started a business Facebook page, and opened a business account on Instagram. It was not gorgeous. But it was me, and it was the next right thing.

  • I made my first post. I didn’t really know all the rules of “How to Make the Most Amazing Post Ever on Instagram!” (I still don’t, but here we are!).
  • I timidly asked a few people to follow me. A couple of them did.
  • I started writing and sharing and teaching anyway.
  • Mostly, I just kept showing up. Writing for people. Speaking to audiences. Helping people work through conflict, communicate clearly, ask questions, use the Enneagram.
  • I just kept showing up, and some other people started hanging out here too.
  • I kept showing up. To make people laugh. To make people think.
  • I kept showing up. Asking if I could help in this way.
  • Showing up to teach people.
  • Exploring my calling.

This doesn’t look like what I thought it would. And it’s definitely the right path. All at the same time, it’s what I’ve always dreamed and never what I imagined.

I had spent so many years listening to the fear, I almost missed the joy. 

It’s still a little raw, this healing wound of shame and fear. I still work to squash the scribbles running in my mind that feed the fear. I’ve learned to capture, observe, and label the thoughts. Allowing them to caution me from pride and rejecting the fear they want to replant in my heart. 

Here we are, one year in and many years in. One year into this expression and a lifetime of living out this calling.

It’s what I’ve always dreamed and never what I imagined.

I’ll be back on Monday with regularly scheduled programming. Conflict Resolution, Enneagram, Leadership Skills: all the things to help you.

But for today, on this anniversary. One year into this particular expression of my calling, I’m nudging you to ponder…What about you? Are you exploring your calling? Are you living your calling? Are you just making it through the day, unsure of where to begin? Let me know. We can work on it together.

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