Here’s what I learned in New York: You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you just can’t take the trailer out of the girl!
I had the time of my life in New York during my writing training for Guideposts. It really was a dream come true, as my last post declared.
But it didn’t start out that way. Naturally, I was a bundle of knotted nerves as I walked into the New York mansion where we were to stay and train all week. I’d quickly bonded with those who had arrived with me, but then it was time to meet and greet with everyone, including the Guideposts staff who would teach us all week.
I’ve always had this slight teacher/student intimidation. Silly, but true. And I kinda felt like a little leaguer amidst all the Ivy Leaguers.
So it sent me right back to the age I was in the story I submitted. Still just a kid at eighteen. Back when we were ousted from the four bedroom family home straight into a trailer with my newly single mom.
The coming of age story, Guideposts called it. And as I recall it, the coming of faith story.
Just like then, I carried in uncertainty and timidity, but then fully covered them up by plopping a big ‘ole Louisiana smile on top.
And picture this. I’m standing on wobbly legs in a formal library, the kind right out of a movie set—or a real live game of Who Done It. Complete with dimmed lights, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and brooding portraits staring down upon us.
There’s light and jovial talk, including, “Did you bring us some beignets and coffee? We sure thought you would,” to which I inwardly sighed and then mentally chastised myself, “Dang! I knew I should’ve brought ‘em with me!”
Then the sinking feeling travels up to my brain and then flips up the switch of revelation. “So thaaat’s why they picked me. For the coffee. It all makes sense now.”
So there I stood, knees locked, fighting with my indecisive, fumbling fingers. Do I keep them clasped, or stuff them in my pocket? In and out they went, as I clumsily stepped in and out of polite conversations and listened to commonalities of our stories being tossed about.
I can’t remember them all, but there’s one I won’t forget. It was innocently lobbed right at me, no time to duck, so I turned and caught it quick with my right ear, before it lodged in deep.
“Oh yeah, your story had the trailer park in it. I remember now.” I forced the super-glued smile to stay put, and then tried to soothe the red on my cheeks and the embarrassed kid within me, thinking, so it was the trailer park that was memorable?
Isn’t it something how a simple, harmless observation can still create a not-so-simple internal response? And it wasn’t them. It was me. Twenty years later, cloaked in a grown-up’s grin on the outside, but lugging around a fear-fighting kid on the inside.
At least for a while. Until I slipped into the comfort of the crisp night air, and called home like a blubbering teenager, stammering between breaths, “I don’t know why I’m here. I have no idea why in the world they picked me. Well, I do, it’s ‘cause I’m the trailer park girl. And I hail from the land of Duck Dynasty. That’s gotta be why…and because they just knew I’d bring chicory coffee, but I didn’t, and I should’ve…”
“Christie, do you hear yourself?” my husband said as he cut me off and hushed me up.
“Calm down. You know that’s not true. And you need to remember who picked you first. God chose you long before you ever made this trip. He has a purpose for you and this. Don’t forget that. Now go be you.”
So I hung up the phone, muzzled my inner critic, and then fell in love with every single soul all week. Time and again, the Holy Spirit reminded me of who I was—who we are—to Him. Chosen and loved.
And really, we’re all just insecure kids walking around in big people’s britches. All longing for love and assurance, as a Heavenly father longs to hear us cry out to him so that He can lift us up. And cover us in confidence and grace that could only come from Him.
Throughout the week, we spent hours (and hours) transparently sharing our stories—and our stuff—and laughing so hard I cried a couples times, and yep, even snort-laughed. Which I normally exclusively reserve for just close friends and family.
On the last day, the nerves and locked knees were long gone, although I still had tears and was still standing. But this time, I stood amazed that I could come so far, across the country, to meet so many authentic, down-home writing friends who felt just like family. And I’m still smiling—for real—about the fact that I could so quickly love so many—so much.
That’s God y’all, and my week with Guideposts was a blessing straight from Heaven. I’m still unpacking and processing what God did in the Big Apple after I left the big mansion, so stay tuned for Part 2.
Thank you for walking and flying along with me in faith. It would sure bless me if you’d subscribe to my weekly emailed blog posts, and I’ll bless you right back with a free printable, free encouragement, and possibly a few free giggles. (Just scroll to the bottom or hop over to the sidebar to subscribe. The free printable for a Sonshine Box will be in the confirmation email.)