I’m coming to realise that writing comes in all forms and for all different purposes and that’s one of the wonderful things about it. So writing blog posts is not frivolous if I am training myself to persevere and experimenting with different writing styles and techniques. And what I am unable to capture in a spoken word poem I am free to write out as prose. I want to write to remember. Moments with my daughter when she was very small. Snatches of conversation and the remarkable things she comes out with. What it’s like to live in a still-unfamiliar land. How it feels to exist in the now and not yet, always in the in between, almost but never quite fitting in.
One of the free introductory lessons on the Compel Training course for writers encourages each listener to actively record their God-given writing dreams, make some writing goals and then start working towards them in manageable chunks. Of course, that makes a great deal of sense because that is what is recommended in all other areas of life too in terms of goal-setting but I suppose it had never really occurred to me to apply it to writing, which I consider to be a peripheral and intangible dream. Recently I’ve begun to see that writing, particularly writing about the natural world, my childhood or the goodness and character of God and His impact on my life, is really life-giving for me. I suppose I’ve always been aware that I have an ease with words which doesn’t always come naturally to everyone, but I’ve always used that primarily to edit or proof-read colleagues’ work, or within a technical environment or in translation, where the initial text has been written by someone else. Writing creatively for the joy of it seems so indulgent and off-task that I find it difficult to justify to myself.
And yet … if writing is a gift that God has given me, then He delights to see me exercise that gift if I’m doing it with a desire to glorify Him. So the act of me writing in itself is already bringing Him pleasure. So that takes the pressure off me and diminishes the feeling of discouragement when I see that only 14 people have read my post or listened to my poem or whatever it might be. I don’t want to hide my writing away, but I also don’t need to be discouraged by how it is (or isn’t) received. As Lecrae puts it, “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.” (Unashamed, Lecrae Moore).
DaBear is a Christian spoken word poet who I’ve heard perform at online events in the past few months and his motto and desire “to uplift, encourage and inspire” really struck me in a powerful way as I reflected on it. So yes, I would love for what I write to uplift, encourage and inspire each person who reads or hears it to see God in new way or to see the world around us with new eyes. I’ve been challenged by what I’ve been reading recently to examine myself and my assumptions and prejudices about the world and the society I live in. And reading what challenges us means opening ourselves up to being confronted uncomfortably by what we see, when we’ve been so used to seeing what we want to see. Terry Pratchett writes “Open your eyes and then open your eyes again.” (Wee Free Men) and I think that’s often what I most need to do.
So I trust that what I write would bring a smile to God’s face and I pray that He would place my writing in the hands of whoever needs to read or hear it. And not only does the Lord remind me that I should not despise small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10) but also that I should be faithful with the measure of the gift He has entrusted to me (Luke 19:17). As Elisabeth Cooper writes in her poem Wake the dead – “So sing, singers / And tell, poets”.
This post was originally published on the 3rd of August 2020 and has been transferred from my previous blog (Brazil from the outside in hosted by Blogger) after some technical difficulties with the site.