All through school, and even after college, I was a strong, confident young woman. I was known for public speaking and theatre. Once after college, I coached high school kids in drama and storytelling for state and national competitions.
I was a strong communicator in person and in writing. I prided myself for these talents. I drew life from being able to get up in front of hundreds of people and make stories come to life. I loved the challenge of memorizing scripts in a short amount of time. As far as I was concerned, this is who I was and always would be. I'd continue being on the front lines, entertaining my audience and teaching others how to do the same. I was on top of the world. If anyone had warned me of my over-confidence, I would have replied, "These are talents God gave me and I'm just using them to their full potential."
Looking back, I realize I was putting my full identity in the talents God had given me, instead of allowing them to draw me closer to God and using them as an act of worship.
Little did I know that throughout the following 11 years, I would have some talents taken and some altered dramatically. My hold on what I thought was my identity would be shaken violently, and God would start to slowly show His daughter where her true identity rested.
Throughout these past 11 years, I've started treatment for infertility (7 years ago), have had 4 surgeries (one being a breast cancer scare), and watched my husband heal from a horrible accident that took months of physical therapy. Medications and hormone treatments took my ability to focus and communicate thoughts in the moment, making personal and group conversations unsettling and my verbal communication struggled/struggles immensely. I keep having to trust God that He will help me, and am learning to be patient with myself...and not "beat" myself up after thinking about the things I should have said or things I should have responded to. It also left me disoriented in crowds where once I used to thrive. I felt like the shell of the woman I once was.
In reality, God was forming me with gentle hands into the woman He wants me to become. I know it's a lifelong process, but the last 11 years, and especially the last 7 married years, have been amazing. How? God has reminded me that He wrote my story, He adores me, and He is walking me through it. With each shattering event, He has been there with open arms to fill and show me where my true identity lies. In Him, I'm His daughter and I'm to follow, trust, and obey Him. No matter my circumstances, that fact never changes.
Some of my talents/confidences are slowly being restored, but even if God withheld them I can still go on living a full and confident life in Him knowing this...'very thing, that He who started a good work in me will continue it until the return of Jesus Christ.'
- Valerie Gutschow, Preschool Big Group and Quest Coordinator