We’d like to thank Liz Forkin Bohannon for allowing us to publish this excerpt from her new book “Beginner’s Pluck.” The excerpt was used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright 2019.  

I want to take you back to the time when I first heard the words upon which the entire premise of this book rests.

You have everything you need to go build an extraordinary life of purpose and impact. Beginner’s Pluck is less about striving and achieving and grasping and more about being courageous and intentional about getting back to who you were created to be. 

You are worthy.

You are a unique and irreplaceable part of The Whole. You are created on purpose and for a purpose.

You are. 

As I was entering into high school, my family situation was degrading pretty swiftly. My family’s particular brand of brokenness was perhaps slightly more Jerry Springer than what you tend to find in the upwardly mobile, white suburbs in the Bible Belt, but like the Nice Family that we were, while our little world was crashing down around us with infidelity and financial woes and double lives, we carefully tip-toed around the broken shards of shattered hearts and (mostly) managed to look pretty as a postcard to the world around us. 

I learned to keep the mess and grief and confusion and humiliation hidden. It was safer to pretend that I was okay and that life was grand, so that’s exactly what I did. 

During this season of life, I started exploring my faith, and I will never forget the day I read a particular verse of Scripture in the Gospel of Matthew. 

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I remember reading those words and feeling my heart sink. And upon reading this Scripture, I was devastated to realize that this would preclude me from experiencing forgiveness myself. 

And then I received an invitation from a friend to come to some kind of special event her youth group was hosting. 

What I said yes to was a Good Friday event and a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus. 

At the end of the silent reenactment set to music, they passed out index cards and pencils, and the youth leaders asked us to write whatever we wanted to “leave behind at the foot of Jesus’s cross.” 

So, I started to write. I covered both sides of the index card and then kept flipping it back and forth, writing layers upon layers until the entire card was a completely illegible mess of smeared graphite scribble. 

The event came to a close and eventually my friends slowly started to get up from the blankets on the grass to leave, dropping their index cards in a white bucket sitting at the base of the giant wooden cross. 

One by one, they left, and I was glad for it. 

And I kept writing. About my anger. My shame. My broken heart. And about my fear that my anger and lack of forgiveness would keep me from the love of Jesus that I knew just barely enough of to know I desperately wanted more. 

As the backyard grew quiet and still with only a few people milling about, I finally started my way down the long, wooded path toward the street. By this time, the private road was completely abandoned and I, thankfully, walked alone. 

Despite my best effort and practice, desperate sobs started to escape. The heaviness of it all—the secret shame and the anger and the pretending—all felt like too much to bear, and I stepped off the pavement and fell to my knees at the edge of the woods that lined the road. 

I never heard anyone approach me. Surely, if I had, I would have hurriedly wiped away my tears and pretended I had dropped something. But suddenly, in the midst of my weeping, I felt an arm reach across my hunched shoulders. So, with my face still buried in my hands, I leaned into whoever had their arm around me. And when I did, they supported my weight in a full embrace. 

I said between sobs, “How can I possibly ever be forgiven when I know I can’t ever forgive?” 

And then, punctuating the verdict of silence, I heard the two words in response to my question that changed me forever: 

“You are.” 

I was startled to hear a man’s voice and took my hands off my face and opened my eyes to see Jesus himself. Actual, literal Jesus, you guys. Or at least the guy who played him in the program that night. Jesus, still dressed in a costume-y, tattered white sheet and strappy leather sandals. 

As I looked up and we made eye contact, he said it again: 

“You are.” 

You are forgiven.
You are enough.
You are worthy of good things and of Great Love. 

Not if.
Not when. Not someday. 

No conditions. No exceptions. No fine print. 

Not should be. Not would be. Not could be. 

Just… 

“You are.” 

If you take away anything from this journey, let it be this: You are not a mass of “potential” waiting to be either wasted or realized.

You don’t need to earn the right or receive permission to live a life of purpose and passion and impact. To hold space for The Shadows. And to shine your light brilliantly bright. 

You are. 

You can stop striving, stop grasping, stop achieving, stop trying to just barely stay above water, stop running someone else’s race. And instead you can get on with the joyful and gut- wrenching and life-giving and courageous work of becoming who you already are, underneath the costume you constructed for yourself along the way. 

You are. 

A Passion Builder and a Dreamer 

A Curious Question Asker and Problem Finder 

A Lover of Surprises and a Miracle Hunter 

A First-Step Taker, a Good Promise Maker 

with a WOW upon your lips. 

A wonderfully average yet irreplaceably unique part of The Whole 

Cracked and bruised from The Shadows 

But still here to shine brilliantly bright and walk one another home. 

 

Liz Forkin Bohannon
Liz Forkin Bohannon

Liz Forkin Bohannon is an author and founder of Sseko Designs, a socially conscious brand creating educational and economic opportunity for women. Liz has been featured on Shark Tank, Good Morning America, a Forbes top public speaker and named by John Maxwell as a top-three transformational leader in the U.S.

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