I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Deserve to be Inspired, hosted by Positive Writer. This is a new adventure for me because I am usually so busy editing other writers’ articles for the RUBY blog and magazine that I rarely take the time to write my own stuff. This post is a reflection on what I have discovered working with other writers. As a teacher, my greatest joy is walking along side new writers and encouraging them to overcome their fear of failure. We all fail at times, and we all succeed upon occasion. But the most important thing to remember is never give up! I hope that my words have been an encouragement to even one other writer in this world to find their voice and tell their story. The world needs our stories.
There are days, I know we all have them, when we wonder if we are doing everything that God intends for us. Especially as women, we often find ourselves busy, busy, busy with daily tasks that frequently seem endless. Which of course, they are. Because no matter how many times you fix supper, you will have to do it all over again tomorrow. And laundry. You can do a thousand loads of laundry, and tomorrow there will be MORE laundry.
If you are a mom of any age, if you still have children at home, there is a never-ending round of activities that require your attention. Some days I feel like I’m running in circles, and nothing I am doing, nothing in which I am investing my time and energy, will last. Everything will have to be done all over again tomorrow.
That is when I find myself, in those all-too-seldom moments of quiet . . . sometimes in the silence, I stop and think about all of that. And I’ll be honest, some days I get discouraged, wondering if anything I am doing is making any difference in the world. If you are honest, you will admit that you feel that way on occasion, too.
One day recently I was asking God to give me a bit of guidance, just so I would have a greater sense of confidence that I am actually hearing Him correctly, and this daily round of running to dentist appointments, piano lessons, volleyball practice, orthodontist appointments, choir concerts, and youth group meetings matters to anyone.
When I finally landed back home, and the girls were quietly doing other stuff (besides fighting like sisters often do!), I sat down at my desk to work on a writing project – and again I asked God to give me a clue. Does anything that I am doing with my life make any difference at all, to anyone? Or is all of this activity just keeping me distracted from something else, something bigger, something more important?
That’s when I remembered “my” writers, those women who have gathered up their courage and determination, and who have started their writing journey. No, they may not all be as eloquent as others; some of them have not had great opportunities for education; most of them have not been encouraged to tell their stories, but they have taken the first step. I know the old saying about a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, but some of “my” writers have been terrified to take even that first step.
As I think of some of “my” writers, I recall sitting across the table at a writers’ conference and looking into the beautiful dark eyes of a woman, about my age, who seemed to be such a gentle, tenderhearted soul. She walked with a limp and leaned on a cane to maneuver around the tables and chairs in that conference room, and I remember watching her search the crowd until her eyes met mine. She walked directly up to my table, halting and a bit unsteady, and introduced herself.
She wore an 0ld-fashioned white blouse beneath a rather worn and tattered light pink blazer, with frayed cuffs and collar. But, oh my, she was so beautiful! I knew right then and there that we would be friends.
As we began to talk, she quietly explained to me that she liked to write poetry but most of the other editors she had spoken to were not interested in poetry. “But that is how I express my ideas, my thoughts, my praise for the Lord,” she said. So what to do, she wondered. She had heard someone say that I would look at her poetry, so that was why she was searching for me in the crowd. Looking down at the table between us, she twisted a wrinkled up handkerchief in her hands.
It startled me when, as I gently reached across the table and touched her hand, she began silently to weep. She didn’t say anything, but the tears slowly streamed down her cheeks. Quickly wiping them away with the wrinkled up handkerchief, she apologized. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to . . . . ” At that moment I discovered the heart of a beautiful woman and knew right then and there that somehow, some way her voice and her story must be heard.
As I read her poetry, I immediately realized that it expresses the joy and longing of her heart. Yes, there are times when the verb tenses are incorrect, or there is a split infinitive, or other grammatical errors – but THAT is why I am a teacher first and then an editor. It is far more important to hear the stories of the hearts and lives of people; it is far more important to speak words of blessing and encouragement into their lives; it is far more important to say, “Here, take my hand and we will walk through this together,” than to dismiss those whose words may not be perfect.
Will any of “my” writers be the author of the next great American novel? I don’t know, most likely not. But that does not matter to me at all. If you are a writer, if God has put a story in your heart, and if your words will be a blessing to someone else, then you must write. Do not wait for someone “important” to recognize your worth. Tell your story. God gave you a story for a reason, and that is because someone out there needs to hear it.
So if you ever wonder what you are doing, if God is using you, or if anything you are doing every day is making a difference in the world – know you are not alone, and remember that He has given you a voice and a story, and words of encouragement, so that you can share them with the world. Think about how important your story is the next time you have a moment of silence. Sometimes those moments are God’s gift to you, so use them wisely.