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My Manifesto: stumbling on for the sake of Christ

I decided to join a hope*circle for the next seven weeks as I and other writers endeavor to fall in love with words… again

I’m a member of a community of writers called hope*writers. Every so often, hope*writers facilitates what are called “guided hope*circles” where a group of writers comes together to focus on a specific topic for seven weeks. 

Each guided hope*circle is led by a group leader as we meet once a week via Zoom to grow and collaborate alongside each other in the craft of writing. The hope*circle I decided to join this time around is called “Falling in Love (Again) with Words”. 

I chose this particular topic because amidst the chaos that has transfused my life in 2021, I forgot how simple and enjoyable writing ought to be. I’ve found that change has a way of making me feel like I’m behind in my writing life, and this group of fellow writers has reminded me why I began writing in the first place.

I write to infuse hope-filled light into darkened places and to spur others on in their relationship with Christ. 

What Am I Cultivating?

In last week’s guided hope*circle session, our group leader — Ronne Rock — talked about culture and how each of us gets to choose what we cultivate and tend to. Are we going to allow our culture and those around us to dictate what we tend to? Or are we going to be intentional in choosing what we cultivate as writers and as people?

We were given the task to contemplate and journal the following reflection questions:

  1. What does “cultivating the soil, and tending to the land” mean to you?
  2. Based upon what you know about yourself, your slant, and your passions – how do you want to be remembered?

I’m a word nerd, so before unpacking these questions, I immediately defined the words “cultivate” and “tend”:

Cultivate: to prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening; try to acquire or develop a quality, sentiment, or skill; pursue, nurture, till. 

Tend: to care for or look after; give one’s attention to; nurture, nurse, guard, maintain.

As I journaled my way through the first question, I wrote that to me, cultivating the soil means preparing my heart for what God wants to grow in me. It means naming the things in my life that I want to pay attention to. To tend the land to me means to nourish what God grows by staying connected to Him and being faithful to what He calls me to. 

When I think about cultivating and tending, I think about God pruning and refining my heart so I’m prepared to walk in the purpose He sets before me. And as I allow God’s Spirit to widen within, I’m able to share the messages He puts on my heart with others through my writing. 

How I Want to Be Remembered

As I mulled over the second reflection question — how I want to be remembered — my mind wandered back to what it is I cultivate. 

Aren’t they intertwined?

What I cultivate in my life is what I will be remembered for, because the things I cultivate are what I pay most attention to and live out of. The truth is, what I want to be remembered for most is my love for God and for the people He places in my path. 

I want my words to live on decades after I’m gone to encourage those like me, stumbling along and reaching for grace as they go. I want to be remembered as an imperfect woman loved perfectly by an unfailing, unchangeable, and mighty God. 

I want to be remembered as an imperfect woman loved perfectly by an unfailing, unchangeable, and mighty God. 

But, as I said earlier, it all begins with what I choose to cultivate and tend in my heart and in my life. So I decided to make a list in an effort to name a few things I want to cultivate:

  1. Faith 
  2. Love 
  3. Gentleness 
  4. Grace
  5. Being present to the moment
  6. Strength in weakness 
  7. Stillness and rest
  8. Humility 
  9. Compassion 
  10. Truth and honesty 

The final assignment that was given after our last guided hope*circle session was to take our musings and contemplations over what we want to cultivate in our lives and create our own manifesto

My Manifesto

A manifesto is a list of personal beliefs and core values. It’s a declaration to yourself and others of what’s most important to you. It’s not an end-all-be-all, and you aren’t expected to execute each declaration on your list perfectly — that would be impossible!

A manifesto is designed to act as a compass, a lighthouse that continually reminds you of what’s true and of what you value most. Creating a manifesto is a wonderful way to hold yourself accountable for what it is you want to cultivate, grow, and tend in your life. 

Based on my list of things I want to cultivate in my life, here is the manifesto I crafted for myself:

  1. I will remain firmly rooted in my identity as God’s Beloved
  2. I will be faithful to tend to what God gives me in each season of life 
  3. I will be gentle with myself and others and leave room for grace
  4. I will temper my reactions and speak gracious, life-giving words 
  5. I will rely on God’s strength and not my own
  6. I will be present to each moment as it comes rather than rushing ahead 
  7. I will make stillness and rest in God’s presence a natural rhythm of my life
  8. I will be brave in facing my feelings and name what I need in God’s presence
  9. I will not accept my feelings as absolute truth and pursue the voice and truth of God
  10. I will not allow the shame of yesterday muddle what God is doing in my life today 
  11. I will store up for myself treasures in heaven and remember my worth is in Christ alone
  12. I will not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind in God’s Word
  13. I will not fear my brokenness, for God’s power is made perfect in my weakness
  14. I accept that making mistakes is a part of life and refuse to hold myself to a standard of perfection 
  15. I will receive the love God has for me and love others as Christ calls me to 
  16. I will surrender my desire for control and trust God’s plan for my life
  17. I will use my gifts, skills, and passions to bring glory to Christ’s Name 

I wanted to share my manifesto with you, not to make you feel like you had to craft one for yourself or that my standard of life and spirituality is better than yours. Quite the opposite actually! I wanted to share these values I hold with you to show you what I struggle most with. 

Everything listed in this manifesto of mine does not come naturally to me. I struggle to show compassion and grace, I am terribly hard on myself and others, and I like to be in control. I struggle to temper my reactions to fit the mold of mercy in the face of my own anger while at the same time hiding from how I really feel altogether. 

Rooting my identity in the love of Christ and abandoning the shame of my past is something I battle against every day. I’m not perfect, although I’d rather portray that I am most of the time. 

These are my pitfalls, the obstacles within that threaten the healthy growth of the land that I seek to cultivate. 

And this manifesto is my way of pointing true north. It may change and transform with time and life experience. But ultimately, this manifesto is one way in which I remind myself that I am constantly in need of Jesus and that without Him, I can’t cultivate anything good or glorifying on this side of heaven. 

Stumbling On for the Sake of Christ

This season of my life is teaching me how to stumble and that stumbling forward for Christ is how good things grow.

This season of my life is teaching me how to stumble and that stumbling forward for Christ is how good things grow.

There’s beauty in the realness — the authenticity — of admitting and naming that.

It’s ok to not be perfect. It’s ok to not know what I’m doing or what comes next, and it’s ok to make mistakes. Mistakes are how I learn and this manifesto is how I remind myself of the broken, raw, real way forward. 

I am a stumbler for Christ.

Stumbling is messy but it’s He who tenderly picks me up, dusts me off, and gently whispers, “You’re doing great. Let’s get up and try again.”

So I will continue to stumble on for the sake of Christ and all that He calls me to cultivate, learning to be gentle and gracious with myself as I go. And I encourage you, friend, to do the same. 

I encourage you to be brave enough to face your own pitfalls and name them in the presence of God. And I urge you to see your weaknesses, not as shameful downfalls, but as beautiful imperfections that Christ can use — if you so choose — to display His splendor and strength. 

Let’s be fearless and honest in our pursuit of cultivating the soil and tending the land of the life we wish to grow.