I cherish this time of day… it is evening right now, a gentle breeze is blowing, a few raindrops are falling, the kids are asleep… and I am doing what I love to do, nearly every day, at this time of day— I’m writing.
I write about anything and everything. I could write about what I did during the day, but mostly I write about what I struggle with, any challenges I face, joys I experience, and questions I have. I write down many prayers, I copy scriptures, I write my requests and words of thankfulness or praise. These are the two places I pour out my heart: aloud to God when I pray, and in my writings.
I received two compliments today. Someone called me a “writer”. Then later in the day, someone else asked me to help her edit her piece of writing. Wow! Writing is a passion of mine, but to be identified that way is a compliment I do not take lightly. And for a friend who asked me to edit some deeply personal thoughts– I felt blessed to be trusted with editing someone else’s words.
It got me wondering– what makes one a writer? Do others have to acknowledge the fact? What else makes one a writer? If no one read my writings, would I still be a writer? After all, there are many “artists”, but few are considered “great artists”. Know what I mean? Who determines what art is? And if it isn’t great art, is it still art? Yet, if all that was required was simply self-expression, well then, the entire world could be an artist, or writer, or musician, as there would be no standards. So, obviously some standards apply. What are those standards? Who sets them? Quite obviously, some literature is much greater than others– the books that stand the test of time, that are full of beautiful imagery and prose, and make the characters come alive, the stories with timeless messages that spur us on to greater places in our own lives, the books that change us and will always stay with us.
Does a true writer need readers? Do artists need people who appreciate art? If there were no readers, would I still be a writer? Don’t I need readers to be a writer, or does it matter?
You see, for years, I was a student. Before I was a student, I was a child, and before that, I was a toddler, and before that, a baby. But back to the student, which I was for many years. I was a good student and was identified that way. Then at some point I became a working person and was identified in that way. One day, I got married, and that new label was added to my identity. A few years later I became a mom, and yet another identification was given to me. I stopped working, so then I became a “stay at home mom”. A few years later, and a few children later, I began homeschooling, and then “homeschooling” became one of my biggest identifiable characteristics.
In some ways our labels are connected to our stages in life (or our children’s stages), and naturally so. We do form connections and friendships among those in the same age group, same life stage, same career, etc. It is part of the natural order of the way things are in our culture and our society. We do automatically attach labels to one another based on what we DO.
I wonder about a world where labels are based on who we ARE. Can you imagine it?
“Oh, look, there goes Gentleness. She looks especially lovely today.”
“There walks Patience. He has been through so much loss.”
“Watch out! There goes Judgmental.”
“Hide here. Gossip is coming.”
“Hey! Let’s try to catch up with Joy! I see her across the street.”
And yet these labels, we do attach, but we keep them hidden. We think them, but we don’t say them. It’s taboo. Thus we attach “safer” labels, based on our occupations or stage in life. Or perhaps based on a life circumstance (i.e., she’s a cancer Survivor).
So, the label today of “writer” thrills me. I’ve been so long identified by my role as a mother, or a homeschooler, or whatever (and all of these I truly appreciate and am proud of, and I still AM so many of those)… but today to be acknowledged in some other capacity for some God-given abilities, talents and longings… means a great deal to me, and I don’t take it lightly.
I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen in my hand. I wrote my first poems in first grade and still remember them, and I think they are still in a box in the basement. I started keeping a journal when I was ten years old, and have been doing so ever since. When I travel, my hands feel empty without a pen and a notebook. To date, I have dozens of notebooks full of journal entries, poetry and short stories.
And now, the computer has replaced the pen and notebook– and happily so. I can write much more quickly; indeed, I’ve journaled prolifically in the past year because typing is that much easier.
So, yes, I am a writer. It is one thing I have always been, and will always be, by God’s grace. It feels as much a part of me– almost as my hand does. One of the things God meant for us to do with our hands must have been to write. He gave us His word, and He’s obviously gifted thousands of people to write– to write about him, about love, about beauty, to write interesting stories, and to ask compelling questions….We’d know much less without the Bible, books, literature and articles. Our world and our earthly experience is all the more richer because of the written word.
The written word of God itself is ALIVE– it is “alive and active, and sharper than a two-edged sword.” God’s WORD is Alive- like a living, breathing organism. It has power. Amazing, isn’t it, to understand. We can see the evidence through the changed hearts and lives we see, and through the changes we see in ourselves. The Word has power. And it’s even amazing to fathom that this “WORD became FLESH and dwelt among us”.
The written word holds great mystery, power, and intrigue. Writing is the form of self-expression I have taken more so to than music or art, although I love those as well. Writing has been easier, when I didn’t have paints or canvas, or for the years I survived (LOL!) without a piano… during the years when my children were younger and about all I could do was write; yet even so, much went unwritten during those years.
So, yes, I am a writer. Even if it may not be acknowledged by the external world, in my heart, I know that this is part of who I am. It is part of who God created me to be.
And while writing is something I do, and is part of who I am, it is not all God made me to be. Our jobs are not US. We are more, much more. We, as Christ-seekers, are meant to be: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Self-Control. We were meant to be loved by God and to be lovers of God. God knows us, and we were created to know him, love him, and give him glory.
Writing is a tool, just as any occupation is. Or as Mother Teresa once said, “I am a pencil in the hand of God.” Simply a tool.
A tool. A writer. An instrument. A clay pot. All in the hands of a mighty God, who gives our earthen vessels their substance and significance.
Now that is something to write about.