Faith in the Gift

amywink February 2nd, 2018

Faith in the Gift

My mother used to tell the story of how, after she married my father in 1960 and enrolled in art classes at SMU, she had had to quit because married student housing required a fee of $70. When she told one of her art professors about the fee, he had offered her $70, which she refused to take. She told the story with a mix of pride and anger: Pride at her refusal to accept charity, pride at her choice to stop because of expense and also anger at her refusal to take the money, anger at her pride. But she favored the pride and often the story turned on how her pride had kept her from making a financial mistake. She told the story often, mostly when there was some choice to be made between money and creativity. Often when the choice was mine to make, my mother proudly spun her story out as a reason for quitting the pursuit of creativity because of the cost was too great, too foolish.

I did not hear the story like she wanted, though perhaps I actually did because I decided very early not to be a quitter if I could find the money: that money would not be the thing that stopped me in my pursuit of what I truly wanted. And yet, the story seeped into my consciousness and the voice of the adversary rises to grind me to a halt, reminding me that I will likely have to quit, that I will likely lose all I have worked for, that the pursuit of my creative happiness is useless and financially irresponsible and that I should give up my foolishness and accept a more conventional life. She is mean.

My adversary reappeared recently and I am not exactly sure what allowed that voice to start speaking, but speak she did and it was with hard talk that can give crippling self-doubt an overwhelming edge. And that crippling self-doubt seeps into everything to reinterpret my experiences and push me toward the darkness.

But I fight her. I push back against the dark. My friends push back against it and I know at these moments that their voices are far more accurate than the one in my head, she’s just closer, louder, with round-the-clock access and I have to take more decisive action to leave the argument, to turn from the devilish voice.
This week, I decided to take a leap for my writing, to take a chance for my work, to pay attention to the direction I am now pointed. My 2018 “intentions” include “Keep Creating” and “Seek Peace” and when I am writing, I am most at peace and am faithful to my gifts. When I am writing, I turn from the adversary.

But she can whisper.

As I prepared two brief selections for a manuscript contest–one from a completed manuscript, one I only just started– which I don’t usually enter because I understand the politics and marketing behind final selections, my adversary whispered, “You don’t have the money. How can you spend the money? You will not win. This chance you are taking useless. It’s money you are throwing away.” Still I worked while she whispered. My friends worked against her too. I knew that the entry was the risk. I didn’t need to know the final outcome. If I entered, I’d have taken the right risk, so that was my only goal: do not talk yourself out of entering. I pushed forward, until I added up the cost of the entry: $70. It might not seem like much but it seemed like a dangerous amount to risk. The adversary whispered.
Then, my mother’s story came back to me: “Married student housing cost $70 more. My professor offered and I didn’t take the money. I quit.” I shuddered and breathed, slow and deep.

When I asked her once why she hadn’t taken the money, she replied that she didn’t know how she’d pay it back. She hadn’t seen the gift that he offered with the money. My mother had turned down the $70 and with it, the gift her professor gave her, the gift of his faith in her art.

I paid the money. I let go of fear. I decided to have faith in my gift.

One Response to “Faith in the Gift”

  1. Brendaon 03 Feb 2018 at 8:00 am

    And, somewhere, Winkyn cheers!!

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