From the onset of my thirties, I have been undergoing what i’m going to refer to as my “Second Call,” that has come about really naturally and instinctively. It’s a new chapter of life that I’m opening with a new and more seasoned perspective than I was able to have in my youth. Maybe we can refer to it more easily as that I am ‘coming into my womanhood.’ I don’t know what else to call it, but it’s been rad.
It’s been this internal place of being fully present in each moment, and leaning into and syphoning through the most honest and ugly parts of myself that now feel too ill-fitting not to address and douse in grace. This sort of self-assessment has proven to be drastically important in my life’s journey, particularly as a wife and as a mother. This Second Call has enabled me to see so much beauty in what I had previously viewed as so dark and ugly within myself for many years. For that reason, I figured I would share with you where this experience has taken me.
Transitioning out of the traditional work force and into being home with Emery and Daniel each day is a perfect mixture of chaos and beauty. I have learned to be so content in these amazing moments of unbridled laughter, silence while they play, stillness while they sleep, or moments that may even be obnoxious and loud, but they are still innocent and pure. These otherwise typical moments have proven to be much more weighty in the shaping of my future than I had ever imagined.
By nature of this season of life that I am in at the moment, there is no other option than to settle into the day to day, ordinary life stuff, and take in all that has to offer. The day to day stuff, the little stuff, the small silly moments, the constant teaching and the explaining, the feeding and caring, the up-all-night, the changing of diapers, the caring for another person while putting your own needs last, has in fact become the greatest and most influential time of my life. In a way, my children have become my teachers. And myhusband Bryan has become the catalyst by which I have the opportunity to live out what love actually means. It’s such a craft, because we have to be so intentional if we want to love in a way that sets the tone for their understanding of loving another human with grace, gentleness, and honor. As you ladies know, that is so hard, and it is also so good!
Until all of the distractions that I had created for myself for so many years had faded away, and after all of the drama of college and dating and careers had been settled (thank God!), I realized that I simply had never made the space or the time to face all of who I am in totality, in gut-wrenching honesty. Part of this awakening journey in these last two years or so is just called growing up and maturing. But the other aspect is a ripening and a deepening that cannot happen outside of training and experience.
As I am experiencing, the wisdom that comes with a second call is a wisdom that gives some things up, lets some things die, and accepts human limitations. It is a wisdom that realizes that “I cannot expect anyone to understand me fully, and that is okay.” It is a wisdom that accepts the inevitability of old age and death. It is ‘wisdom that has faced the pain caused by parents, spouse, family, friends, colleagues, business associates, and has truly forgiven them and acknowledged with unexpected compassion that these people are neither angels nor devils, but only human.’ (Brennan Manning)
For me, the second call invited me into serious reflection on the nature and quality of my faith in the gospel of grace, my hope in the new and the not yet, and my love for God and people. It has been a summons to a deeper, more mature commitment to faith where the naïveté, first fervor, untested idealism, and the first commitment as a child have now been seasoned with pain, rejection, loneliness, and self-knowledge. Doing so has been really harsh, really ugly, and really hard. But it has also been the source of the most humbling, and most beautiful season i’ve ever experienced in life yet.
What I had been missing in all of the noise for all those years, in the clubs, in the selfishness, in the addictions (you can be addicted to anything), my insecurities, in the busyness, is what I have found now: its the gravity and the weight of the gentleness of Christ in my life. I have never experienced God in the ways I do now. Experientially what I mean is that I have found gentleness and tenderness in the quiet moments here at home where heaven has met me here on earth in the tangible form of my children, my husband, and in being present in moments with them in order to sense everything…
There is no place for my once acquired numbness, my know-it-all approach, or my ‘I can fix anything’ mentality. Here, is where I finally made room and time to hear Him speaking into those really hard and unpretty parts of my life (memories, responses, choices that had still haunted me) that I shoved into a closet so long ago as to avoid how ugly they made me appear to myself and others, or how awful they made me feel.
This does not mean that we, all of us, do not have areas of life that rock us to our core. The point is that now I have learned that unless you make room to hear the Lord’s voice in the details of everyday life, we (humans) get caught up in the crazy cycle and end up operating out of survival and instinct, which is typically at odds with real connection, forgiveness, presence, gentleness, and grace- the ingredients for a meaningful relationship/life.
By always trying to fill the void, fill the silence, fix it, risk it, jump off, and succeed, I had been missing some of the most intricate, and necessary life-giving words and affirmations from the One who made me for so much more than the mediocre self I had created. My ravenous insecurities made my sense of self-worth rise and fall like sail boat on the winds of another approval or disapproval. It’s a supreme moment of liberation to say, my name is Jenna and I’ve been quite the moron and quite the hypocrite. A few years ago, this you probably have been embarrassing to admit. But today, I am more whole because of my vulnerability to get more honest and get more real, so that my life has weight to offer to others on similar journeys.
By digging deep, and leaning in really close, I have found the peace and the value of being present in the moment, creating space and making time for the people and the things that matter most. Including and perhaps most importantly, gentleness with myself in those areas where I have failed or hurt others… The extremes, the success, the adrenaline, and the risks will always have their appeal to me. But what has ended up mattering much more than what I want or what appeals to me, is what I’ve really been needing all along. I’ve needed to experience the steady, gentle hand of my creator speaking grace & truth into the details of my life, weaving meaning and purpose into little things that had never otherwise had a chance to matter, to be redeemed and recovered.
He used a little girl, and a little boy to teach me about what selfless, unbridled love and tenderness is in real life, where it matters most. For a lot of us, it takes a long time for the spirit of freedom to cleanse us from the subtle urges to people-please, to lower ourselves to our culture’s definition of beauty or success, or to be admired for our studied goodness, our achievements, our statuses, or to be free from self-inflicted shame or self-consciousness. This freedom in Christ enables us to move freely in the mystery of who we are at our core-in our deepest, most vulnerable, true self. That freedom happens when we are raw, and believe Him at His word that His grace is sufficient… and that ‘it is finished’.
That is the whole point. It is always unpleasant, and usually painful to open that wide and be that transparent with ourselves and others, and that is why we aren’t very good at it. But to stand in the truth before God and each other has a unique reward. It is the reward which a sense of reality always brings: I know something extremely precious. I am in touch with myself as I am. It required the removal of all of my facades for me to take a good, long, hard look at myself in areas that needed to be heard, sorted out, validated, and most importantly, loved.
I needed to experience the love of Christ in my own life and in my own wounds and messes in the same way that my faith always knew it would for others. I feel like I finally believed Him that I am forgiven, and that my story matters. My experience has been that the moment the focus of your life shifts from your badness to His goodness, and the question becomes not “what have I done,” but “what can He do?” you can never remain the same.