There’s something I haven’t told you because I’ve been fearful. I thought I was being humble. But this past weekend I attended the 2015 Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference, which turned into two-day therapy-retreat where I cried a lot and got really depressed before I became inspired. I was hindered to inspiration because I was blocked by truth.
I sat in a guided writing experience with Micah J. Murray, where we called out our snippy inner-gremlins and fought against them by writing a fan letter to ourselves. I wasn’t going to read mine out loud because my gremlins told me that everyone else’s letter was way better, that I would be self-centered if I volunteered, and that everyone would think mine was stupid. I punched my gremlins in the face by volunteering to read mine.
I read my letter and I was okay; people liked it. Micah asked me to read it again. The second time I read it, I wasn’t okay. I began to cry and could barely get through the dang thing without snotting all over it. I got mad(ish) at Micah, “Why did you make me read this again? Look at what you made me do!” He had called me to a place of public vulnerability–then asked if the group could pray for me. He asked the sweet girl next to me, Michelle, to lay a hand on me and pray. And pray she did, so beautifully and tearfully. This was a powerful moment that I didn’t understand in the moment.
In this same class, a gentleman, Sovann Penn (@SovannPenn), read his letter. He said to himself, “You have been mistaking fear for humility far too long… you have friends who are awesome and believe in you.” This stuck with me the rest of the day the same way a rock gets stuck inside your shoe.
That night in the main session, author Emily Freeman said: “I want to write like a hostess. A hostess doesn’t leave her guests to go call all the people who RSVP’ed “no” to find out why the didn’t come and why they don’t like her. That’s crazy. I want to write like a hostess, not a crazy person.” This put another rock in my shoe, and I went home feeling depressed, annoyed, and uncertain if I would be back the next day. I snuggled up to my husband and blubbered all over him with no words to express what was wrong with me.
I woke up the next morning with the very clear voice of the Holy Spirit:
“You’ve been mistaking fear for humility; you’re missing out on the full experience of the gift you’ve been given and the ministry in which you have been invited to participate. You are scared of people rejecting you, mocking you, and being angry with you, yet in all the things I’ve given you to write never once have you experienced what you fear. Not even in your most public confessions of sin. You are a lovely hostess with many guests I’ve brought to you because they can hear you; your translation from the Kingdom to the guests is good! But you leave them so you can wait by the phone for the “no” RSVP’s to call. They aren’t calling… and you’re missing the party! You have faithful friends, family, and even strangers who believe in you, but most importantly I believe in you. I have work for you if you’re willing; the fruit will be good and beautiful if you will trust Me.”
Here’s what I want to tell you:
I’ve spent the last 14 years pouring into and editing the stories of others, defining myself as an editor and merely dabbling in my craft as a “wet-noodle” writer. I confess that while I adore, honor, and value other people’s stories, I’ve been using editing as a way to avoid the true work God has for me–writing. I have been fearful of stepping into the public arena of vulnerability, giving power to voices of the gremlins and cloaking my fear in humility so as to justify my place behind the scenes (which, incidentally, is where an editor works. How convenient.)
Yes, some of my recent writings have been more confessional and vulnerable (evidence of God’s effort in coaxing me out into the arena), but I can tell you they were published in trembling obedience and reluctant submission.
I surrender with humble declaration that I am writer. I write creative non-fiction about real-life, my story, and God’s unwavering persistence to be the anchor for both. I translate through written words what I hear, see, and feel from God so I can better understand the purpose he has for me, how I can live that purpose for His glory, and how I can invite others to discover the same for their lives. My prayer always, dear reader, is that through my experiences, you find yourself encouraged, inspired, and invited into a Kingdom that is safe and welcoming, and promises purposeful life no matter how broken you are. You are loved unconditionally. And so am I.
God gave me my first assignment in January– a children’s book called The Hungry Garden. It’s an alphabet book that explores the ordinary to extraordinary food that gardens grow and why these foods are so exciting. It comes with a 26-recipe “snack book” that parents and children can use in their kitchen to be creative with food. I have completed the first draft of the main manuscript, and I am currently developing and testing the recipes.
I never wanted to write a book, let alone a children’s book . . . let alone a children’s book about food. I didn’t feel qualified. But as I have been following His lead on this project, it’s becoming more clear that as a recovering anorexic patient, I understand the fear of food intimately. I know what it feels like to see food in front of me that looks scary, smells weird, and would certainly be the worst thing ever if I ate it. As a child of God living with an eating disorder, I can relate to children in a way others cannot. Only God can orchestrate such a unique connection.
I look forward to sharing with you the nutty things that have happened since beginning this process, along with the mysteries and surprises I encounter as I journey forward. I promise not to hold back anymore! I am joining the party and will step into the arena as my name is called.
And those grumpy gremlins? Well, they aren’t invited.