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Linda Fulkerson

Linda Fulkerson

Doris Day once sang a song about a little girl who asked her mother what she would become when she grows up. The chorus is the mother’s answer: “Que cerá, cerá. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que cerá, cerá.”

When I turned forty, I had that same What-will-become-of-me? talk with my mother. Most of my adult life had had as much direction as a pinball — bouncing aimlessly from one flipper, bell, and buffer to another. I’d lived in eleven states, sampled a variety of vocations, wound up in two treatment centers, and lived a life that, in many ways, paralleled that of the Prodigal Son.

Mom’s answer was a little different than the mother in the song: “You are the sum of everything you’ve done, good or bad, and you have a responsibility to help others who may be wandering down a similar path. Don’t let those years go to waste.” That conversation led to a deep self-evaluation.

The path of a pinball may seem senseless at first glance, but in reality, every bump and bang contributes to the overall score of the game. Each obstacle has a purpose — no move is wasted. Life is like that. Looking back, I found meaning in each bump and bang along my path. Although that path zigged and zagged, I realized I had learned much from each experience:

Things I learned:

  • My time spent in a sewing factory taught me compassion for those who live a mundane experience yet aspire to become more.
  • My nine-year stint in the USMC taught me discipline and leadership.
  • As a training manager, I learned that the journey toward any goal is comprised of small, consistent steps.
  • During my years spent typesetting and copy-editing at three newspapers, I learned to love the written word. (I later made the leap across the editor’s desk to the writer’s chair and published my first book, The Prodigal Daughter: Hope for Runaway Christians and Those Who Await Their Return.)
  • While dispatching at a trucking company, I mastered multi-tasking.
  • Bookkeeping taught me the art of organization, a skill I still struggle with.
  • As office manager at a church, I learned the importance of service, both to others and to God.
  • Public speaking taught me that sharing my experiences can instill hope in others.
  • A foray into hobby farming blessed me with witnessing the miracles our Creator produces on a daily basis.
  • Photography instilled in me the desire to discover the beauty in even the most unbeautiful subjects.
  • And as a wife and mother and grandmother, I have discovered true joy.

What does the future hold?

The future may not be ours to see, but just as a skilled pinball player uses every barrier to his advantage, converting chaos into strategy, I, too, longed to turn obstacles into opportunities, to transform turmoil into triumph, to total the sum of my experience into something worthwhile. And I finally discovered how.

While working to harness my passion for forging wonders into words, I realized writing is my true purpose and calling. I’ve manifested that God-given talent into multiple magazine contributions, a horde of humor columns, an obsession for blogging, and my latest literary love-interest — fiction.

What will become of me? In the end, my success won’t be determined by what riches I have attained, but by how much I have enriched the lives of others. Not by how much I’ve been blessed, but by how much I’ve been a blessing. Not by the words written in my “official bio,” but by the words I’ve uttered to encourage another soul. Not by what has become of me, but by what I have become.

Read all of Linda Fulkerson’s posts in the ACFW library.