As a writer, I’m no stranger to irony – unless, of course, I’m living it. I’m also no stranger to deep feelings of inadequacy.
I’m Jessica Cannon, I’m a writer, and part of the Riverbend wRiters group. Early on in life, I began writing, journaling, to help me understand and cope with what I was going through.
I was raised in a faith-filled home, one that made me pretty familiar with the story of Christmas – the birth of Jesus through the Virgin Mary. Now as an adult, I not only see similar circumstances in Mary to my own, but inspiration that has helped me overcome my own challenges and adversity.
I lived the first 20 years of my life trying to fulfill someone else's expectations. My parents, teachers, friends, employers – they all had a different idea of my role to fill in their lives. It was not until my 39th birthday when I finally mustered up the courage to ask God what my purpose in life was.
As a child, I had a teacher for a mother - one who reacted harshly when my grades did not seem to be good enough throughout middle, and especially, high school. It was an embarrassment to her and her reputation as a teacher. I never considered my parent to be another source of peer pressure, but she was. I felt rejection and inadequate for her love for many years.
I was married at 20, to fulfill my parent’s expectations, and although it was not an arranged marriage, it was one that I expected would change my life for the better. My expectations were shattered when he left, and I was a single mother before the child was ever born. Who would love me now and want to father another man’s child? I felt like a failure, but I was determined to protect my child from ever feeling abandoned.
Mary’s story as a young mother resonated with me, as did questions of ‘why me?’, and ‘how can I do this?’.
Motherhood changed me by making me want to be a better role model. If God entrusted me with bringing a child into this world alone, then clearly, He knew something I did not quite understand yet… just Like Mary…
Each year I reached every goal I set for myself while working full-time, going to school, and raising a son. My first-born son was growing and doing well, yet I desperately wanted to have the picturesque family. Still concerned that no other man would accept me and my son, I continued to pray.
God answered my prayers and I met my current husband. I knew if he genuinely held a place in his heart for God then he would be good for my son and I. We met, fell in love, married, and had a second son.
Through the struggles to balance work and home life, I learned we are prone to point out all the reasons why we can’t be… or do. Over and over again, self-doubt plays in our minds until we talk ourselves out of pursuing our dreams or challenging ourselves –
So, where’s the irony? It was not until that 39th birthday when I finally mustered up the courage to ask God what my purpose in life was. Within a few years, I had my answer.
Today, I am writing a book on care-giving based on my experiences of caring for – (pause) my mother. Someone who held me back, who gave me these deep feelings of inadequacy, has now given me the gift of pursuing my passion to write.
Self-doubt forced me to step back to ask, “Who Am I?” Life had been one disappointment after another when I tried to fill someone else’s expectations. So many struggles with difficult paths to navigate because I strayed from the path I was indeed chosen for. The struggles along the way were merely seasons of training for the time my purpose was intended to shine through.
It is OK to feel inadequate as I often did – the way Mary must have felt. It is a normal response to challenges which push us past our own perceived limitations. Thankfully, The Will of God will never place us where the Grace of God cannot protect us. And, when I take the time to reflect over my past, I can see God’s grace speckled throughout each and every one of those difficult struggles.