I sat thousands of miles away from my family. I hadn’t written in months. Even when I found time to attempt to type my thoughts, the white screen mocked me. It wasn’t that I had lost the desire to write, but the demands of my job, two young kids, husband, neighbors, friends, and life pushed writing aside. As my world got busier, I silenced the small voice that kept whispering, But I asked you to write.

So as I sat in my hotel room, wondering if I should hop on a plane to another hotel to attend a writer’s conference, I listed all the reasons I should change my plans. But that whispering voice, the one that wouldn’t remain silent, kept pushing, But I asked you to write. 

Fear creeps in

As I got out of the Uber and snowflakes tickled my cheeks, fear set in. Everyone was going to know that I was a fraud. Not only could I not handle the cold, but I couldn’t sit in a room full of writers and still hold that title. 

When I opened the door, I wasn’t met with judgmental glances and cold stares, but smiling faces and the warmth only found when friends meet. Not only that, but the smiling faces that met me were with that unique warmth only found among dear friends. Someone gave me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, reminding me of home. The laughter warmed the room so I could ignore the cold. 

Each time I talked with another writer, she affirmed my gifts. I met online friends in real life and was embraced with hugs and kind words. Rather than being discovered as a fraud, I was affirmed. Validated. Encouraged. 

Where I Met Jesus

And while the seminars and worship held truths that felt as though the Spirit was whispering just to me, it wasn’t in those that I met Jesus. I met him in the tight embrace of old friends I was meeting for the first time. I felt the Holy Spirit as I heard the stories shared over meals and quick conversations that lingered in hallways. God’s Holy Spirit filled the rooms. His quiet voice no longer crowded out. 

When Mary was told she was pregnant with God incarnate, she visited her cousin Elizabeth. I remember when I found out I was pregnant. I was 30 then, and my husband and I both had stable jobs and were financially secure. We had been married for five years and had been trying to have a baby. So there was no reason to be scared, yet a sense of dread filled me when I saw the little blue line form across the pregnancy test. 

Did I know what I was doing? How would we keep a child alive, let alone raise the child to thrive in this confusing world? It wasn’t that I was unprepared, but rather that the weight of reality brought up my insecurities.

 Mary must have felt these insecurities. She wasn’t just carrying her precious baby; she was carrying her Creator. To say her position was not secure is an understatement! Joseph could have dismissed her when he found her with child and left her without financial prospects. So her flight to her cousin is understandable. 

When Brenda Salter McNeil preached on this story to a room full of campus ministers, she said that those who are birthing something new, need someone to help them. As creatives, we are birthing something new. Like childbirth, there is a waiting period that is riddled with anxiety. Creating words is laborious, and putting them into the world is painful and beautiful at the same time. The community we bring around ourselves helps us birth into the world what God has asked us to write.

Finding Affirmation

Midway through the conference, I spoke with an old friend who once told me a writer writes and even gave me a paper certificate testifying that I was not a fraud. That was the first time I ever considered myself a writer. I have written several articles and even interned for a magazine. But it wasn’t till I was encouraged to foster my calling that I began to see myself as a writer, owning both the calling and the gift that Jesus had given me. 

I put my writing on hold for almost every other part of my life. Even while trying to write this piece, I put aside my computer to make my children a snack. I pushed back an hour I had set aside in my calendar to edit to fit something in for work. And instead of writing, I went on a date with my husband one night. I don’t begrudge any of those distractions, because I love being a mom, a wife, and a minister. 

But those identities often steal from my calling as a writer. It isn’t malicious or intentional, or even anyone else’s fault. Those identities steal time, because I allow them to. Because I doubt my words have any impact. And if my words don’t have an impact on the world around me, they seem less important than cutting up apple slices, finishing a work email, or going on a date. 

One of the women I met for the first time at the Redbud retreat, who had emailed me back and forth over the years, was an editor who published a piece I wrote during the pandemic. I still have her email saying that she believed in this article. When we hugged, I remembered her words and it felt like I was being reminded that the words God gives me to say are not meant to be kept in my heart. I’m not writing to glorify myself, but to draw others to the LORD. Or as the psalmist sings, “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe” (Psalm 107:2).

When I want to give up because I doubt God can use my voice, it has always been community that has given me the courage to write.

It was in community that I began to believe that God could use my voice to bring others to him. And it was community this fall that gave me the space to quiet the world so I could hear God’s call to write and find the courage to say yes again. I don’t know where my writing will go, or how long God will ask me to write, but I am thankful to have a tribe that I can walk with on this journey as a writer!

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