Musings

Sawdust and Souls

What do you smell when you pass a construction site? Specifically, one where they are right in the middle of building a new house? You can see straight to the insides of the house. You can see the beams that form a structure for that room that will one day be filled with memories. And you can smell sawdust. That earthy, yet somehow fresh, woodsy, kind of welcoming scent. Or maybe that’s just me. Every time I smell sawdust at a construction site, I’m back in my teens, either watching someone build a house, or helping someone build a house.

One of my favorite memories, which, granted, is pretty vague by this point, is once when we girls visited friends down the dirt road who were also building a house (not the goat people). Unlike our little almost-one-room cabin, however, they were building this giant mansion of a place, in preparation for Y2K, of course. There were some rooms put in, but mostly it was just the structure of rooms in the form of beams and 2x4s (or it could have been 2×6 – who knows? Give me a break, I was like 13). I remember sitting on some of that rudimentary flooring, playing games, and being in awe over the fact that one day, in that very place where we were trying not to get splinters, there would be walls and flooring and furniture—all the trimmings that take a structure, and give it a soul.

Do you ever feel like that? Like you are just a structure awaiting a soul?

I went to a Writer’s Conference last week, as mentioned in my previous post, and. . .oh, I learned so much. About writing, about editing, about publishing, even about other writers. And I’ll probably be sharing bits and pieces throughout the next few weeks. But the one treasure, worth so much more than any of that, was the reminder that I have a soul filling this structure.

Not that I ever doubted it, of course, but it has been an almost strange sensation these past few months. I have been stepping out in faith, in possibly the most drastic way of my life since the time I moved halfway across the country to go to college in a state where I knew no one. And yet, somehow, despite prayers and pleadings and soul-searchings, I felt like God was so far away, and I couldn’t get Him back.

So much doubt and angst permeated my entire being—as I’ve no doubt you could tell from my almost repetitive blog posts. But every single morning last week, my day was started with 15 minutes of meditation and 15 minutes of worship, and then, just to follow it up, messages in which speakers would point at me—well, everyone, really, but it felt like me—and say, “God has placed a calling on you, and you must answer it. He has a reason for your writing, and no one can give that message but you. So, first, do it. And second, do it well.” That mediation, worship, and constant reminder was like a balm to my structure. Like I really wasn’t just being selfish by pursuing something I love, but I was fulfilling something God wanted me to do. And my burden slowly started to lighten.

And then, Wednesday, one of the speakers—a joyful, bubbly, lovely author named Jeanette Levellie, sat next to me at lunch, and, completely randomly, got up, gave me a hug, and said, “You are so beautiful.” And then she leaned down, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You have the spirit of the Lord just radiating from you.”

I almost started crying. Because I felt like God was saying, “Even when you can’t sense me, I am still in you. You are still good.” And in that moment, I felt my soul begin to seep back into my structure.

Because you know what? God has a purpose for me, just like He has one for you. He has put specific callings and desires in our hearts so that He is glorified. Even when we feel like we are fumbling our way around a dark structure, His light can shine through our eyes. This morning*, my scripture reading included this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55: 8-11

He will accomplish His purpose. Don’t be afraid to let Him light your soul.

*Written July 20, 2020

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