“That you can see these things when she plays is a gift. Never try to become its master, but serve it. Allow [the gift] to be what the Maker meant it to be.”Nia Igiby, The Wingfeather Saga
The C written atop my first college English paper dumbfounded me. After recovering from the shell shock of falling from my straight-As high school glory, I swore to do better. But I didn’t want to do better for learning’s sake; I wanted that A atop my next paper for affirmation. Honestly, I’d turned outward to make myself whole for so many years that no one could have been surprised at my reaction. Grades. Accomplishments. School. Friends. Tender infatuation. Leadership. Projects. Recognition. Make me feel good about myself, I begged each thing in turn.
The first time my writing was singled out, I won a fifth-grade essay contest (and still have the plaque). Affirmed. Then, in my thirties, someone else published my writing and came back asking for more. Affirmed. I published on a few more platforms, hosted my own blog, joined a writing community, and am interning for a New York Times bestselling author. Affirmed, affirmed, affirmed. In the secret places of my heart, I still begged to be made whole by what others said was good and worthy in me because of the words I penned.
Writing was simple for me as a child: I wrote because I liked words (and they came more easily than fractions). As I grew, writing became a catharsis for swirling emotions and teenage drama. When my adult world went sideways with a complicated genetic diagnosis for our oldest child, I felt like Alexander Hamilton, writing like I was running out of time. The words and sentences poured out of me.
Recently, though, I’ve felt a lot of angst about my writing. Angst that has driven me to production instead of cultivation. Angst that has pushed me to see my writing as a problem to be solved rather than a gift to form my soul. Angst that has urged me to quit instead of remaining faithful to God’s vision that words send restoration, redemption, intimacy, joy, and delight out into the world.
Why is it so easy for all of us to turn our good gifts into tireless idols? Despite the voices shouting at me to find significance in the world’s approval, the Spirit whispered to my heart, Be still and listen. Let go of the outcomes and lean into me. Write because it’s a gift from me. Write because it changes you. Write because through it you feel my good pleasure. Write because it’s a gift to others. Let go of algorithms and outcomes. Grab hold of me, your faithful God who has already looked at you and declared you are good. You have infinite value to me. You are forever secure in Jesus.
It’s so easy to turn away from the Spirit’s whispers because, Helena Sorenson warns, if we try to send our gifts—whether writing or building businesses or making things with our hands—out into the world without answering the “deep questions . . . Am I loveable? Am I worthy? Does this matter? That is not a gift to the world. That is a debt they have to pay you.” Pull up a chair for the rest of this piece at The Glorious Table today?