For today's Becoming Myself series, I asked Michelle Benzinger some questions about her own journey and how she ushers, walks besides, encourages others to become themselves. Michelle is a LIGHT in this world and so many of us are blessed in knowing her. If you like what you read (I think you will), you can find heron instagram at @michellebezinger, @abidingtogetherpodcast, and @greenhousecollective which is launching this December. Plus, listen to her amazing podcast, Abiding Together, here.
At what point in your life did you begin the journey to really know yourself, step into who you are, and embrace the call that God uniquely gave you? What was the impetus?
I think I began the journey in my early 20’s when I had a re-conversion back to my faith. My faith became tangible to me, and I started to find my voice. Started is the keyword here. Then, I got married and had children, which I loved, but I thought once I had those things that I would have my happily ever after, and that was not the case. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy, but I think I had made them an idol and used those roles to define me instead of my identity in the Lord. I call that my wilderness season where the Lord had to break me out of some false assumptions and allow me to let go of all the “shoulds” in my life. A good wife and mom “should” do this. Your home “should” look like this. I “should” have it all together. I think one of the first catalysts that tore down my tower of “shoulds” is when our first biological son was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. I remember sitting in the doctor's office and hearing the diagnosis and thinking this is not the way it is supposed to go. I learned to befriend unique, I learned to trust “out of the box” thinking and situation, and I really learned how to pray to hear what the Holy Spirit had to say about the situations in my life and trust that He was for me. I also learned that the unique calling and mission the Lord has put on my life was not at war with my vocation as a wife and mother but flowed out of my vocation. And I am still learning that is in relationship and receptivity that our Kingdom calling and creative mission magic are revealed.
You are so anointed in not only living out who you are but also in helping others discover who they are. What would you say are the biggest factors that most commonly get in the way of people stepping into God’s call for them?
Believe it or not, I was a cheerleader - pom poms and all! I have always loved cheering people on, and I love to throw celebration parties. You name it - birthdays, showers, feast days - let the gathering begin! So, I realized when I was in college that these qualities were rarer than I thought. I have realized that I most come alive when I help others dream and launch them on their unique missions, and I love to create places and environments where people flourish.
I think one of the biggest factors why people don’t step into who they are and their unique mission is fear and isolation. Fear of failure, fear of truly being seen, fear of the power of their own voice. Fear that they don’t have what it takes. I think there are situations and times in each of our lives where our hearts have been assaulted, lies have crept in, and our voices have been belittled and/or hijacked. And this is where in isolation and hiding come in.
I often say that you can dream in isolation, but it comes to fruition in the context of community.
As women, we are life-givers. That is who we are in our very core nature so one of the things I am passionate about is to help create a culture of spiritual midwives, where we help birth one another’s dreams and callings that we call forth life in ourselves and one another, that together we can come into our fullness of mission.
What do you think the story is that God wants to tell with your life? What does the Holy Spirit want to reveal of Christ’s nature with your own personal mission?
If there is a title to my story, I would love for it to be, “Her Life was Art” - In the ways, I love God, my husband, my children, my people, and in the ways I participate with the Holy Spirit to create the things that are on His heart. The nature of Christ that I hope is revealed in my mission is that he is a lover, a dreamer, and He is calling us all home and into a family where we all belong.
Which Saint has been your closest ally lately? What do you learn from them?
You know I can’t be limited to just one.
For me the four women doctors of the Church.
St. Teresa of Avila - How I can be a spicy reformer with humor and learn how to have deep prayer with the Lord.
St. Catherine of Sienna - That the Lord gave me a voice and it matters when and where I use it. Also, a deep love for priests.
St. Therese - That I can lean into my littleness and trust in the Lord’s bigness.
St. Hildegard - That we should not put God in a box to what He can do through us.
And one of the newest Saints - St. John Henry Newman - that our lives can be poetry and in full color. This quote-“With Christians, a poetical view of things is a duty. We are bid to color all things with hues of faith, to see a divine meaning in every event.”
―St. John Henry Newman
What does your daily prayer routine look like?
I always start with scripture - I am a big Lectio girl, and I usually end with an Examen at night.
I do spiritual reading daily, and in the last few months I do a few holy hours a week -(it is the only place where I can find quiet, and I don’t feel like I need to be near my phone.)
What books or resources would you recommend to others who want to enter the journey of discovering who God has made them to be?