"Use What You Have"
I am so thrilled to introduce this week's #kairostribeleader, Jenessa Wait! Jenessa is a hand-letterer out of Austin, TX, and she is a true encourager. I believe so strongly in the work that she is doing, which is making tangible the encouragement and hope that is offered to us in Jesus. Her story is marked by faith, and her heart is so genuine and sincere I think it will be hard to come away from this story not feeling emboldened.
I think it is pertinent to here acknowledge that the Kairos Tribe exists to highlight people who are doing good work, who have seen a need and who have chosen to use what they have to embrace that need, right where they are. This means that some of the Kairos Tribe leaders we choose to recognize are running non-profit organizations, others work regular full-time jobs and make time and space to meet these needs on the side. Because part of the goal of the Kairos Tribe is to be able to give to organizations doing good work, in the event that someone we interview has no affiliate organization -- such as in this case! -- then we'll work with Kairos Tribe leaders to select an organization that represents a need close to our hearts. In this case, Street Grace, which is an organization that exists to combat Human Trafficking, will recieve 50% of the profits from prints sold.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy this story. "Courage, dear heart!"
T H E N E E D
“I started hand-lettering -- my hand-lettering journey, if you will -- when I got married two and half years ago, when a friend introduced me to the work of artist Susanna April. I immediately loved the spirit of her work, and some creative desire came alive in me that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Or maybe ever. It was then that I realized that I wanted to create typography and words. So I just started practicing. I had no idea what I was doing, I just practiced and put in hours every single day. I didn’t understand yet what need I was trying to address; I was just following this creative desire that was newly birthed in me.
So I started posting my hand-lettering on Instagram. In the beginning, I didn't really understand just yet the heart of why I was doing it, or what need I was trying to address...I just did it because I liked it and it was a fun creative outlet. Eventually, after a few months of posting I found myself getting caught up worrying over how many likes I had, how many new followers...you know how it goes. That spirit of comparison, it overtook me. I couldn’t enjoy what I was doing anymore. Creating began to feel like a chore, like something I had to do, not something I got to do. Part of that for me comes from the fact that I tend to be a people-pleaser, and I can put a lot of pressure on myself. Things began coming up in my heart that I needed to deal with, and I realized that I was putting pressure on myself to be in a place creatively that I wasn’t yet. I found that to cope with this, I needed to compare myself to others to feel better about myself...the whole ugly, weird thing of comparison -- that we all deal with in some degree as creatives -- came tearing through, and it totally interrupted my creative process.
I remember coming to this point that I was so exhausted by the comparison game. I prayed through much of this process, and one day I was pleading with God, asking him why He had given me the desire and burden to create, when the comparison was just killing me. I asked Him, “why is this so hard, what is wrong with me?”. And in response, I felt Him asking me, “Jenessa, what have I called you to do?” Holy Spirit brought to my mind the image of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand people -- if you know the story, then you know that there was a little boy with five loaves of bread and two fish. He offers everything he has to Jesus in a spirit of childlike faith, saying, “here, Lord, take what I have.” Jesus’ disciples scoffed at the boy, because of course such a small offering could never feed a crowd of five thousand people!! As the story goes, Jesus miraculously multiplies what the boy has and he and the disciples are able to feed everyone present, with baskets of leftovers to spare. That story is a picture of exactly what God asks us to do -- to freely offer what we have, even if it seems painfully small or insignificant, and to let him multiply it and use it in the way that he intends.
Through reflecting on that story, I came to realize that I had spent so much of my time trying to figure out what people would want from me instead of simply giving of what I have. The Lord began showing me that it’s not my job to feed everyone, but it is my job to give what I have and that he will feed others out of that. It was God’s mercy to me, that he revealed these things inside my heart that I genuinely want and need to deal with. Through all of it, He began to show me more of who I am and who He is. He encouraged me when I needed encouragement the most, and that fills me up to pass along what encouragement I can to others.”
T H E A C T I O N
“Through that season of introspection and listening to the Lord for guidance, my perspective totally shifted and I started to ask myself what I had to give, without reservations of what would be too insignificant or too small. I am a natural encourager, which I think annoys some people, but it’s who I am and so I’m not going to apologize for that. Instead I’m going to give it, because it’s what I have to give. I was able to start encouraging people without needing anything back from them. I had received the encouragement my heart needed as a free gift, and I was able to give it away to others out of what I had been given. God knows the desires of our hearts. We don’t need to go out there and strive to make them happen. We work from what he has already given us, and it’s better that way.
Now, I continue to do what I do simply for that reason -- it’s what I have to give. But also, I think that people are so hungry for what is genuine. Our generation, particularly, doesn't want fake anything, especially not fake Christianity; they don’t want Religion. They want the truth and they want it straight up. It’s been awesome to see how people have responded to the truth that God’s just put on my heart to share. When I share words of encouragement now, I think that whatever the Holy Spirit has put there, maybe it’s just for one person who needs it. Other times it’s just me feeling free to write whatever I want to write! So, it’s been a process… sometimes it’s whatever God is saying to me and other times, I just go for it.”
E N C O U R A G E M E N T
“Most of us don’t know what we’re doing. No one has it figured out -- really figured out -- but we don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward. We put stumbling blocks in front of ourselves when we put pressure to be somewhere way down the road when the call is to take one step at a time. I would say, take off all the pressure. Be okay with baby steps. Be okay with where you’re at, because all that God needs is our “yes”. He might call you to something that feels scary, but that is an invitation for him to upgrade your trust that He’s going to care for you in that process.
For instance, I’ve never considered myself to be a business person. I’m way more of a creative, free- spirited type. So approaching my hand-lettering like a business made me want to run away, because I felt so unqualified. God had to strip all that away and he had to let me know that if He is going to call me to something bigger than me, that’s a good thing, because then it’s only God in that. It takes the pressure off. Trust God, but also trust yourself, what he’s put in you. Confidence is good, and we get confidence when we really begin to see what Jesus sees in us. When I adopt his affection for me, I can have that affection for myself and this is important because we need to be the most loving people of ourselves. I’ve learned this as I’ve had to stop and ask myself from time to time, “why is it so easy to encourage others, but speaking good over myself can be so hard sometimes?”. I have to first be the encourager of myself. In short...we need to love ourselves in the process. Don’t have so many expectations, and trust in his timing.”
D E E P E R A C T I O N
Finally, here is a memento that you can purchase + download to remember this story by. 50% of the profits will be given to Street Grace, an organization out of Atlanta GA that seeks to combat + ultimately end Human Trafficking.