I am a writer. I am a cheerleader. I write, I cheer people on, and I inspire others to stay positive. Those are my gifts. There, I said it. I mean I wrote it. Oh, how I’ve resisted my gifts. I really wanted more traditional gifts, but God had other plans for me. I know this now. I am actually just starting to believe it.
I so wanted to be an athlete. I had visions of greatness that were shattered the day my only basket for my 7th grade team went in for the opposing team. In my defense, it is confusing when you switch sides at half-time. I must say, the fast break with no one guarding me felt so good! In my 15 seconds of imagined glory, I must have drowned out the yells of, “NOOOOO CARLI… YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!” Details have never been my strong suit. That season, I won the team spirit award. REALLY!? Yes, the award they give to the kid who really did not earn any actual recognition!? That was my “award.” I was recognized for staying positive and cheering the team on. I was a good team player- ho hum! I wanted to have the most points, the most rebounds, NOT the most spirit!
I tried again in track, and will never forget the crushing feeling of defeat when I came in dead last in the mile- by ALOT. I wanted to be fast. I still remember listening to the names of the track and field day winners announced over the loudspeaker of my middle school. Kris Zupfer and Nate McClellan, always had their names announced! They are classmates of mine from New Ulm, MN High School and they married each other and have three boys. No doubt those lucky kids get all of the field day ribbons! I am not sure why I listened in anticipation because I never heard Carli Besse over the loudspeaker on track and field day. Not once.
I also thought if I had the gift of a beautiful voice all my problems would be solved. Like Lenae Larson, like Jill Hendricks. That would be the life. I stood in the chorus and watched, green with envy as the musically gifted received all the praise for their solos. Now that is a true talent, I thought. I tried to pursue that dream in Junior High too- in a program called SOUP (Students of Unlimited Potential). I croaked my way through a duet with a boy who was an even worse singer than me, and the looks of pity in the audience sealed my fate. I was completely talentless. SOUP was a program in which teachers handpicked students they thought had unlimited potential for a bright future. They were obviously wrong. I couldn’t play sports, I couldn’t sing. What kind of unlimited potential could I possibly have?
In high school, I settled for being a cheerleader- cheering the athletes on, singing in the chorus, and writing a column in my school newspaper called, Carli’s Corner. I LOVED being a cheerleader, and writing my columns in the newspaper, but I resigned myself to the idea this is what a person does without ANY talent.
Fast forward to almost 25 years later, I have recently realized, those ARE talents, those are the gifts God blessed me with and I am just now starting to embrace them. I LOVE to write and I LOVE to cheer people on! And I do have the uncanny (annoying to some) ability to stay positive despite significant “failures”. So here I am in a full circle moment writing Carli’s Corner again.
As soon as I admitted to myself I am a writer, and starting speaking this truth out loud, the words have been coming to me fast and furious. It’s as if I am making up for lost time. Usually this occurs when I am in the shower or on a walk. I am nowhere near a pen or paper and after the shower or the walk, I have no space in my life to put pen to paper. I am writing this at 1:30 a.m. on a Friday night.
Instead, I hit the ground running with my responsibilities- being a Mother, an Administrator of Senior Housing buildings, a girlfriend, a dog owner, a friend, and a volunteer. I have created a life that allows very limited room for my frivolous notion that I am a writer.
Lately, I have pondered if I have created this life for the express purpose of avoiding my true calling. Why would I do that? I think the answer is- complete and total fear of judgment. Fear of the people who may say, “Who does she think she is?” Perhaps they may even say, “that work is no good.” When those thoughts creep into my head first as a whisper, then a drum beat, then a full blown YELL, I hear Brene’ Brown’s voice telling Oprah the story of the time when she started reading the mean and spiteful comments after her viral TED talk. In a moment of utter despair, she found the following quote by President Teddy Roosevelt when he said. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
I LOVE quotes! I LOVE inspirational words. I collect them, I surround myself with them. There is truly nothing more exciting than when you are experiencing a difficult situation, and you read a quote that completely puts your experience into perspective as if God has the audacity to know exactly what you are going through and is speaking right to your soul. Nothing better than that.
I asked myself the question recently, “Carli, why did you stop writing?” And then I remembered a story. The first time I recall a teacher telling me I was a good writer was my English Teacher when I was in high school. Thank you Mrs. Aufderheide! She was impressed by my skill and asked if I would allow her to submit an essay I had written to be considered in a contest. The chosen essays would be published. I was very flattered she believed in my work, and I told her she could submit it. I remember very distinctly going home and basking in the compliment when I was overcome by a wave of complete and utter fear and panic.I realized if my name was on the piece, everyone in my high school (my whole world at the time) would see what I wrote. My thoughts would be in print. My name would be on it. There was no turning back! It was a personal essay about my boyfriend at the time. God forbid my classmates see my true feelings. I bolted to her class the next day and asked that she please submit it as “anonymous.” She did, and it was published- without my name. I no longer have the essay, likely because I didn’t want anyone to really see my vulnerable side. I have a hunch I didn’t even show my Mom, a writer herself. After that, I stuck to my safety zone, “Carli’s Corner” in the school newspaper. I wrote about safe topics- like fashion- real Hemingway material!
After high school, I essentially stopped writing- publicly at least. I did what was expected of me. I went to college, met a boy, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration and a minor in Gerontology, got a full-time job in my field, got married, bought a house, had three children in four and ½ years, and sent out my annual Christmas cards that showed my friends and family what a “perfect” family looks like. There. All the i’s are dotted, and the t’s crossed. Who has time to write? I had a real life to live. I did submit a couple of letters to the editor in my local paper, as part of my job as the Administrator at my hometown nursing home and assisted living. Other than that, that part of me was neatly tucked away. My life was on track. I had it figured out. Or so I thought.
Then bam! I had what I recently heard described by Mastin Kipp, as a divine storm! This is where God shakes you to awaken you. I had a significant spiritual experience that changed the trajectory of my life- more on that later. This experience was exactly 10 years ago, and I started feeling compelled to write. It was the first inkling that God may have different plans for my life. Perhaps I did not have, to quote Prince, “this thing called life,” figured out. And let me tell you it has been a wild ride. Here is my first Carli’s Corner in 25 years in my effort to dare greatly! The time has come for me to set aside my fear of judgment and get in the arena! I am ready…. I think. Actually, maybe no one will read it. Okay, I guess I am sort of ready!? For anyone who is only reading this because I used the word sexuality with spirituality in my blog description-stay tuned.
By: Anonymous… I mean: Carli Besse Lindemann
I am curious to hear if you have ever resisted your gifts? God gave you some- TRUST ME! I also want to hear from those of you who whole heartedly embraced your gifts from the moment you recognized them!? Let me guess… you are an athlete or a singer- of course you did. I would have too.