A Backpack of Puzzle Pieces
At many junctures, as we walk the long road between the inception and realization of a dream, we pause. We ask hard questions, have conversations with our Creator, and lean into new themes that seem to emerge from the voices, dreams, and truths that swirl in our minds and infiltrate our hearts. It’s as if we have a backpack of puzzle pieces we’ve collected along the path as we pursue what God, our hearts, and our world have asked of us.
These pieces are glimpses of insight, breath-catching joy, profound concern, and affirmed calling we often do not fully understand when we stumble across them, but we know, somehow, they are significant and we must take note of them.
Moving Forward in Uncertainty
Frequently, I splay my puzzle pieces out across the trail, consult my co-dreamers, and attempt to work out possible configurations.
What images are taking shape? What is becoming clearer than before? What echoes the truth of Christ and connects to the story he’s writing in my life so far?
A simple and clear vision for my life and work with Voice of Courage has been my prayer.
Intense clarity seeking is my natural default, and I typically don’t receive it in the timeline or ways I expect or desire. Not surprisingly, “living in the messy middle” and “perfection is the enemy of done” have become well worn mantras in my life of late, as I know my tendency to get paralyzed and defeated in the midst of the unknown.
Maybe, like me, you find yourself in the uncertain middle passage between your initial dreams and the realization of living those dreams to the full. Do you feel part blessed, part burdened with a backpack of puzzle pieces you are longing to make sense of with the Spirit’s guidance?
I have many unanswered questions that, like puzzle pieces, have yet to find their place in the larger picture. But I also know that because my God is so gracious, he’s inviting me to handle, participate in, and steward his mysteries.
I see in part, but he already sees in full. I can only identify a few unifying passions, while the rest is a bit fuzzy. Here, I rest in the truth that he perfectly understands the nuances yet unknown to me.
Earlier this week, as I let the hot shower run and my thoughts flow, the Lord began to draw connections like bullet points between a few of the puzzle pieces I’ve treasured in my heart over the past few years.
Some of those pieces: God’s heartbeat in me for creating connection. My passion to build healthy relationships and justice in my world and the communities around me. The need for creative collaboration, celebration, and mutual support among women change-makers. The importance of emotional awareness, the love of Christ, and Spirit-infused discernment, vision, and focus in our work, which equip us to transform the world around us with love.
These are the driving and sustaining motivators that propel me forward into the mysteries of all God has in mind for the women we will intersect through Voice of Courage.
The Soul that Drives Our Influence
For years now, as we’ve dreamed about and created resources for Jesus-following women in leadership, Jan and I have often borrowed from the book The Spiritual Formation of Leaders in its powerful metaphor of two interactive rooms within each Christian leader: the soul room and the leadership room.
The soul room is always at work within us. And it always guides and influences what we see on the surface, even if we ignore its existence altogether.
To borrow from authors Corbett and Fikkert in When Helping Hurts, the soul room is the place of our relationships with self, creation, God, and others. Our poverty or wholeness of soul stems from the degree of life-giving ways we’re experiencing these fundamental relationships.
As we follow God into the mystery of all he has for Voice of Courage, I’m getting the hint that it will often involve the Back Story, the behind the scenes collaboration and soul care for and among women in leadership that is so often ignored and denied leaders of any gender or background. Western society loves to create a mythical wall between the quality of our feelings and relationships and the real grit of intellect, action, and influence.
The reality—these two poles of the human makeup are beautifully intertwined and best understood as a system, much like the organs and functions of the body. God cares so much about both our soul room and our leadership room, and his word especially advocates for the soul side, as he knows it is so often discounted and ignored.
I think this is why God is growing in Jan and I such a deep passion for the caretaking of our fellow friends and changemakers’ souls. Whether we’ve known you decades or minutes, we feel for your soul, and whether you are a leader, a minister, an artist, a writer, a mom, or (fill in the blank), your soul matters to God and to us.
Relationships Shape our Souls, Souls Our Leadership
As women leaders on a mission to bless women leaders, we say enough. No longer will we treat the soul and the quality of our relationships in the soul room as disconnected from our skills in any arena—from the writer’s nook to the boardroom—your soul matters for your sake and for the sake of your time and place in this world.
You’ll notice a theme in the coming blogs and to a new aspect of our organization—a podcast we’ll officially release later this month (We’re thrilled!).
The theme we see unfolding for this early summer season is friendships: how they relate to our work, impact our growth, and matter for our souls and for the health of the world around us.
From coaching conversations to speaking invitations and the independent selection of guest bloggers, we’ve heard loud and clear that women who dream, create, lead, and–ultimately–change the world, care deeply about and need a faithful circle of friends by their side.
In The Power of the Other, Dr. Henry Cloud explains why human connection, friendship, and camaraderie are essential to unlocking human potential. The way we personally flourish and publically influence when we journey in isolation is a far cry from how we show up and experience the world when we are surrounded by people who know and love us deeply and listen, affirm, accept, and encourage us forward in our dreams.
We want to explore this essential connection between our relationships in the soul room and our social and creative impact from a variety of angles.
On this journey together, we fervently hope you will be met where you need an invitation in your own soul, perhaps to deepen, prioritize, reestablish or even pause to celebrate those people who make your leadership possible. Or maybe you’ll need a moment to grieve what has happened in your relationships, to seek healing and wisdom. Wherever you are, may you begin again the work of establishing a healthy support system, including your connection with God, yourself, creation, and others.
Without these soul-shaping relationships, your work, dreams, ministry, and impact cannot be all he wants. And more importantly, without ongoing growth in these relationships, we cannot be all he intended.
This isn’t about performance, it’s about healing, courageous unfolding. It’s about the support we need to bravely step into all he has for us.
And this isn’t about perfection, so come with your fears and your uncertainty, and show up anyway.
We need what you uniquely bring.
We pray Voice of Courage will continue to create live connection and virtual spaces for this glorious, God-inspired collaboration, discovery, and creative unfolding of each woman’s unique voice in the world.
Will you pause right now and allow God to draw connections inside you?
Will you look for the places of growth and the places of pain in the relationships that influence your soul?
And will you honor the importance of your soul, both its stand alone value and its impact on all you do outwardly in your places of leadership, art, ministry, and impact?
With these questions in mind, please welcome and celebrate a special guest writer you’ll meet on our blog next Friday. Also, be watching for the unveiling of my new podcast, Beautiful Brave, that was designed with the women of Voice of Courage in mind. It will be released later this month and will be available for free download on iTunes.
With an overflowing and expectant heart for all that lies ahead,
Cloud, H. (2016). The Power of the Other. Nashville, TN: Harpercollins.
Corbett, S., and Fikkert, B. (2009). When Helping Hurts. Chicago, IL: Moody.
Miller, C. (2007). The Spiritual Formation of Leaders. Maitland, FL: Xulon.