The Writing Life, the Power of Voice

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Life is pathways that become our Story; where we meet the Holy One and God renews us.  These realities run parallel to one another, making life unbelievably complex.

I am a woman, a mother, daughter, and sister while being a life-partner and friend.  And I’m a writer, a creative photographer, a poet, bringing logic and imagination together here, all which engender Me–this follower of Christ. I am also a sometimes runner, forever an alcoholic who is sober with gratitude and Grace, I am so many things.

I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s hand all these roles and trajectories, this my first year of being an intentional writer, finding my voice, my story, my purpose.

For me, one pathway has been as a stay-at-home parent and homemaker, a role I haven’t liked, more like suffered through, but that’s a part of my story of resistance to what is.

Another part of my story is working solidly on perfecting writing as a craft, including relentless reading and writing; finding and accepting my style, my voice, which is different from others, but these are the ways and words that God puts in me. Again, I resist this discipline. 

I’m also a person drawn to studying scripture and this year I’ve been rethinking How I read the Bible, learning the big Story of the Bible, reluctantly accepting both the patriarchy of organized religion, and the most incredible fall-down-on-your-knees awe for a good and loving God.  Time and again the stretches I spend, the more of a contemplative I become, brings a craving for the quiet whispering voice of the Holy One. I have sought the life of the Spirit in new and ancient ways. This is discipline.

Another path I have been on is learning what it means to be a woman in the evangelical church and being healed; coming utterly unstuck from years of bitterness over women’s roles.

I was feeling ignored, unheard, and even unimportant – lacking a voice, while being gently chastised for being so outspoken and for clinging to Feminism.  I was simply keen to talk with others about their experiences as women.  I felt alone, except for some community I found online.  Writing “Why I Stay” (as essay in Finding Church by Civitas Press) brought a healing that I couldn’t  have experienced any other way.

Being at home, being a contemplative, being hungry for the Bible, being a women, being a writer, I have had years of feeling very alone in all respects of my spirituality—Joining Redbud, I experienced the affirmation and community of women. It is a place of healing, growth and affirmation for me if I allow myself to enter in.

More than a year ago, at a time when I was crying out for my life’s purpose (or even just a job) what I wanted was to believe that my life could make a significant impact. I was challenged by my husband and a pastor friend to write, ahem, TO BE A WRITER as my vocation.

I remembered all the others over the last year or two, and over the course of my life, who affirmed this in me. I was full of arguments “I don’t know how.  And you cannot just do it. You need a plan, a proposal or idea for a book or two, and connections eventually to an agent or a publisher.”  This was more of my resistance.

But I also knew, before all those lofty goals, if you want to be a writing you must simply write—write often, write everything, write it all down learning to collect words and ideas, putting them together in your individual way, finding your voice.

I have learned this year too, that you must occupy your own Story and portion out your life experiences with care and discretion.  You will be exposed and vulnerable, and yet you’ll learn to trust yourself and your story to others, as you engrave your story on the “page,” sharing it with a community of readers, it deepens your character.

There is an excavating of the soul as you stay vulnerable and open to the Holy Spirit, to evolving in your faith journey, to sighting places where God’s work in you—and God does and it is the most miraculous, deeply challenging thing. 

There will be times of feeling abysmal, but always the promptings and the difficulties that seem to come are a part of life and if you allow them they will be your writing life. 

Writers must grow!  Lean in to your troubles, to your pain, to the heartache and write it all.   This year of intentional writing has been one of the more difficult of my life and yet, I thank God for the panics, the gaffes, the worry, the heartache and the pain.

Even as I often feel alone in a desert of fear and solitude, and worry that perhaps my writing will be forever done in obscurity, I know that God doesn’t ever turn away from me and my story.  The story still matters with or without the accolades. If you believe that you are on the right pathway.

This writing life has become about remembering and living My Story, no one else’s, and acknowledging the power of God in Me.  Believing deeply and knowing with certainty in the midst of heartache, that God is good, and God is Present and God is okay with the fact that I’m quite imperfect.

And as each of  these paths run parallel, of being a writer and living this imperfect yet Spirit filled life, the challenge is to not allow the writing to overtake the emerging  of your Life Story.

I cannot let my writing out shout the Holy Spirit’s whispering and the narrative of scripture’s truths and all that God is doing inside me.

This is the tension filled place of living the writing life, which is less a place of perfection and more a place of being perfected into the image of God.

The writing life does this in me.

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