Stories that Matter

Finding Your Place

This week I’ve been blessed to be attending the Books & Such retreat in beautiful Monterey, California.

I’ll be honest, these last twenty-four hours, as I find myself somehow surrounded by a bunch of best-selling authors, I’ve wondered on more than one occasion how I got here. I’m feeling a little out of place.

Ever felt that way?
The fact is, God has blessed me with a wonderful agent, who happens to be part of a wonderful literary agency, which I am now part of. I belong. I have the contract to prove it. šŸ™‚ Yet…there’s this nagging voice inside my head that wants me to believe I don’t. Maybe it’s got to do with the fact that I’ve always been pretty introverted, painfully shy as a kid. School days were not a fun part of my life. I was not included in the cool kids’ group. Matter of fact I was often the butt of their jokes. For whatever reason, I got picked on. Of course I never stood up to them. Instead, that wound festered inside me, created an anger and confusion I didn’t know what to do with. And now, years later, I feel like I’m sitting at the cool kids table, waiting for someone to come along and ask me to leave. Tell me I don’t belong.

Having a sense of belonging is so vital to the adopted child. I was fortunate to be an only child, even though I didn’t always see it that way. I had no doubt I was loved because my parents doted on me. To say I was spoiled might be a stretch, but I certainly never lacked for anything. Even though I used to say I longed for a brother or sister, I liked being an only child, and I’m not sure I would have coped well having to share my parents with a sibling. I remember when we started taking in exchange students. On the one hand, I was excited, but on the other, I resented that other person in my house, taking my parents time and attention away from me. Insecure? You bet.

As I matured and came to an understanding of the deep-rooted emotions I’d only skimmed over the surface of growing up, I began to see how vital it was for me to find my place in this world. I was a young woman trying to be a wife, a mother, a daughter…but none of that made sense because I didn’t really know who I was. I knew who people said I was, I knew who I believed I was, but I also knew there was so much more to my story. So much I didn’t know. So much I wanted to know. And, as the years went on, I discovered these were things I needed to know.

I needed to find my place. I needed to understand where I came from to know where I was headed. That’s something you’ll hear me say a lot, but it’s so true. Once those pieces of my puzzle began to click into place, things I hadn’t previously understood about my personality started to make sense.

Once I found my place, found the answers to questions I’d been asking since I could voice them, I found peace. When you grow up staring at a blank page and wondering how to fill it, only able to check n/a for years after questions like does cancer run in your family, does anyone in your family suffer from depression…it feels pretty good to know the answers. But it’s more than that too. It’s knowing the unknown. Accepting it for what it is, for better and for worse. They say knowledge is power. For me, knowledge is freedom.

Ultimately, I discovered my place is right in the lap of my Heavenly Father. Without Him, none of this would be understandable. Probably not acceptable. Even now, there are times when I’m still not sure where my place is. If I slip out of His lap and forge ahead on my own, the questions come hard and fast.

Do I belong with this group of amazingly talented authors? Do I dare to dream the big dreams we’ve been encouraged to? Will I one day step into that place of knowing I truly do belong here and I haven’t walked into the wrong room? I don’t know. Maybe I will. I hope I will. It’s where I want to be, and I think it’s where God wants me to be. Time will tell.

What I’m learning is this – life is a journey. It’s like that winding, coastal road along Highway 1 that we drove today on the way to Big Sur. Sometimes the road is smooth and you can speed along with confidence. Sometimes it gets rough, with hairpin turns that you can’t navigate at high speed. You have to slow down. Take a breath. Don’t stop, but don’t rush it. Pray. Proceed with caution, enjoy the scenery because it is truly breathtaking It is a gift from God. But when you’re on that road, whatever you do, don’t look down.

What about you? Do you feel you’ve found your place or are you still in process?Ā 

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6 Comments

  1. Sue Harrison on October 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Always in the process, Cathy. Always. I love this post so much. It really speaks to my heart. And by the way, I think you’re one of the cool kids.

    • Cathy West on October 9, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      I’m only cool if I get to hang out with YOU!! And you are not here. šŸ™ I am eagerly anticipating the day we get to meet in person, it’s gonna be so much fun!!

  2. Ian Acheson on October 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Lovely post, Cathy. Enjoy the journey and don’t think the other writers can’t learn something from you. Everyone’s story is a little different so we all have something to give to others.

    Enjoy your retreat! Bless.

    PS. Congratulations on cracking the 100 posts – a great achievement.

    • Cathy West on October 10, 2012 at 10:47 am

      Cheers, Ian! Glad to see you made the long journey back home safely! Hope you’ll be able to attend another ACFW conference – I know it is a LONG way to come but hope you felt it worthwhile. Great to meet you there.

  3. Beth Willis Miller on October 10, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Cathy, I LOVE your writing…as a fellow adoptee it feels like you are expressing the words of my heart…Spirit bearing witness to Spirit…thank you for helping me focus on the process this morning šŸ™‚

    • Cathy West on October 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Thank you, Beth! I’m so glad we are fellow sojourners on this journey!

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