The instant I knew how to put sentences together on paper, writing became my outlet. I recall, as a nine year old, using my mom’s old laptop from the early 2000s (it was obviously top-notch quality) to write stories. That thing was filled with so many Word documents that the already-slow Internet became about as slow as a snail crossing a major intersection.
I’ve known God has gifted me in that area for quite some time. The thing is, as I’ve gotten older, I am not as unique in that area anymore. High schoolers are perfectly capable of writing great papers, and I am no longer the clear best writer. That sounds prideful and arrogant, but that was my unfortunate mindset with writing for the last year.
Because of this, I decided my that voice wasn’t as important. I would work my very hardest on essays, get a good grade, and move on with my life. But others in the class got good grades too. I had gotten into the mindset that my writing was for others’ sake. And if anyone else could write just as well as me, there didn’t feel to be much point in sharing my voice.
It was this weird and terrible combination of pride and insecurity. I was simultaneously too confident, and not confident enough. Writing, the thing that I’m best at, the thing that reveals the dark and dirty places in my soul, and the thing that makes the jumble of crazy things that happen in my life come together, suddenly became reserved only for essays. I desperately wanted to stand out, but only in popular ways– only in ways that others thought highly of. Writing in a journal? That’s not a very popular thing to do. Writing the best essay? There we go.
I became so distant from God that I was terrified to pick up a pen and make a single mark on the journal that so desperately called me. I saw how broken I was, for it was standing in front of me like a bright shining light in my face, but I chose to put it aside and ignore it. This is where God likes to shine. He has put some pretty awesome people in my life that gently guided me to see how important it is that I write. One of them suggested I read a book called Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist that reached and pulled at my heart. At one point, it felt as if she was writing this book directly to me:
“[Writing] is one of the first things that is entirely my own, that doesn’t help anyone, doesn’t make anyone’s life easier, doesn’t facilitate or provide structure or administrative support for anyone else.”
Those words tugged at me, but I still wasn’t ready to face what a pen on paper would reveal.
I hadn’t written in about a month or two when another friend of mine told me to start writing again. When I casually mentioned it had been a while, she stared at me with this stunned silence that terrified me. For the next ten minutes, she reminded me of how important it is that I write as I sat with heavy tears pouring out of my eyes. She told me that my writing is the way I process through things, and it’s one of the many ways that God shows himself to me. I knew she was right, and I couldn’t avoid it any longer. All of the hurts and struggles and sins I was hiding couldn’t stay hidden any longer.
Words flowed from mind to pen to paper so effortlessly, but it was only through gritted teeth that the action was actually completed at first. I was terrified that the instant I began writing, I would see a million reasons I was such a failure, but instead, I found a merciful God greet me on a piece of paper. Writing tears down the careful walls I’ve built around my heart, but also reveals the sneaky, yet extremely obvious ways my Father is working in my life. I feel like I’m crawling out of my own skin, yet simultaneously like I’ve never felt more home. I learn more about the messy parts about me, and even more about the abounding grace that God has for me.
Writing is scary and hard. But boy, it heals my soul.