I am a woman of limited insight.
...I like it better that way.
About a decade ago (and maybe even as recently as a few years), I would have bitten your head off for even suggesting such a thing. I was a teenager, then a young adult, and by virtue of my vast experience alone, I was an expert in life. Yes, life. As broad, generic, and incredibly varied as that is. I was the expert, and I wasn't afraid to tell you as much (and while I was at it, tell you how to fix your life, because you obviously weren't living it right).
In my college years, my particular life took me into the office of a board-certified psychiatrist for a full psychological evaluation. When I've mentioned my post-traumatic stress disorder in the past, I was not exaggerating, and the conditions of such condition made a lot of upper-level administrators at my nice, clean-cut Christian college more than a little nervous. Had I not put a name on it for them, they would have thought me simply quirky. When I named it, they got scared. So here I was for the sake of their comfort telling my story to some shrink.
He concluded, as I had fully anticipated, that I was functioning remarkably, that I had an incredible story that I was working out with some growing measure of grace, and that I was absolutely nothing to be afraid of. (A few years later, I got his notes as part of a completely separate mission I was on. What he also concluded, though, was that for as much as I thought I knew, I was a young woman of "limited insight." It didn't detract from his praise of the journey I was on and my overall handling of life and circumstance; but I wanted to track him down and smack him upside the face nonetheless.
These words haunted me for years. Limited insight? My entire worldview, self-esteem, position, and well...my everything...were centered on the one simple fact that I was an expert at life and therefore knew everything.
But I am so glad he was right.
These words that so haunted and offended me for so long now encourage and humble me. They help me keep my head on straight, among other things. And were it not for these words, when praise starts flooding in for something I've written or something I've said or something I've created, I might be tempted to believe you.
And I wouldn't be good any more.
The truth is that being a woman of limited insight fuels what I'm doing. It's showing in the way I'm locking into my own voice, and I laugh at myself quite a bit when I read the sort of things I used to write. Stuff in my personal archives. Rough copies of my first two manuscripts, which I do not intend to publish. Early drafts of my first book. Notes for upcoming books that have been sitting in their various folders for five years or more in some cases.
Because when I started writing, I was an expert and I wrote as such. I laid down literature as law and condemned those who couldn't see it. It was exactly the kind of attitude I resent in other writers, and I read a lot more than I write (and I write a lot). I get ruffled when I see somebody else trying to tell me how to do things. When I read their words and maybe it worked fantastically for them, but I'm at a point in my life where I'm practically screaming at the pages, "That's nice, but that's not my journey!" I think once these men and women started to think they were on to something, and others encouraged them that they were, they kind of lost that ability to relate to me. At least to me. Maybe to you, too.
The longer I write and, in general, the longer I live, the more I'm coming to know how much I don't know. And the more beautiful I'm finding that. People sometimes want to talk to me about my style of writing, what I'm writing, what I'm saying, or where I'm getting my ideas. The truth is that I'm learning out loud.
As God has broken me and put my story in perspective, as I have ventured to grow into the gift He's put in me, as I have spent more hours with Him than anywhere else in the world, what I'm coming to value is not all of the answers but the real questions. The honest questions. The seeking, more than the finding. Everyone has an answer, but they aren't my answer and they aren't His. There is Truth and God has it and if I - or you - ever want to find more of it, we have to learn the asking.
This has revolutionized what I now have the opportunity to do - which is, ironically, to share a message when I now feel so radically inadequate to have anything to say. But allowing myself the questions, embarking on the journey, embracing the mess is giving me that one thing that I always longed for as a storyteller and am now honing every day - authenticity. I am telling my story better, hopefully enabling you to tell your story better as we all tell His story better, by simply learning to live it and share how that's going.
I love authors that make me think. It's hard to believe, but I'm becoming one of them. An author who makes me think, and I don't think that's a detriment to crafting a message or putting a word out there. There's a lot I need to think about.
Because I'm a woman of limited insight. And I like it better this way.