Junior year of high school, I started writing a book. A crazy, detail filled book. If you asked me at the time, I would say that it’s like The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings, Twilight, The Host, and The Giver – all in one. It was about a teenage girl in a post-apocalyptic world where she was discovering her “gift” and how she was different, and highly desired by the government. I put so much time and so much effort into this book. I would write chapter after chapter, describing who she was, who the other characters were, what town she was in, how they tracked throughout the different towns – and then I would rewrite. Every time I went to write I rewrote another passage, constantly re-framing it to be better. It was on GoogleDocs, so I shared it with my friends, eager to hear their responses. I wanted to make it big. I wanted the book(s) (since I wanted it to be a trilogy) to become movies and have my name on the big movie screens. I even wanted to act in the movies.
I was dreaming. And I was dreaming BIG.
My friends enjoyed the book. They liked the characters, the plot, the story, the juicy romantic scenes, and the intense parts of the books, since I love cliffhangers. The loved it, and it made me feel good. But, as I wrote more and developed the characters more and planned the next books – my identity became wrapped up in my book. I needed my friends to like it, and I would wait for them to read it to tell me that I was a good writer. That, yes, you can make it! This book is awesome! Everyone will read it! I was suddenly looking for validation is the amount of praise over my book.
Now, I am not saying that is is a bad thing; as writers, we need a little motivation and some confirmation that what we are writing is, indeed, good. But that wasn’t the case for me. I just wanted more praise. I wanted people to read it and say they loved it. I didn’t take criticism well, whatsoever, and I would easily become frustrated if they offered any suggestions. It was my baby, my creation – no one else created this world that I created.
I boasted in my book. I boasted in myself. I was swimming in pride and arrogancy.
Fast forward to my freshman year of college, I started to have a more intense relationship with the Lord. I wanted to dedicate my life to Him, because I was realizing how He loves his children and how the Bible is really about having a relationship with the Lord. In this process, one of the first things the Lord asked me to submit to him, not to give up on, was my book.
Of course I said no.
And I continued to say no for a few weeks. Then, I folded a bit. I compromised. I decided that I would stop writing the book until I could figure out what the Lord wanted. I wanted to submit to Him and learn how to be humble, but I didn’t want to lose my book because my identity was attached to its success and its progress. A few months later, I still had not written anything, and I started to see where I was holding on to this book more than I was holding onto the Lord. However, I still wasn’t ready to submit.
During my spring break, I went with my college ministry to Tijuana, Mexico to help one of our sister churches. The entire week was extremely emotional and spiritually exhausting, but I will zoom in one one specific moment.
Everyone was worshiping the Lord. Voices crying out for the Father that was present in the room. Some cried for joy and others cried for pain. We were all desperate for something new, something palpable, something life-changing, and we were on the cusp of it. I was standing in front of the stage, arms raised. I knew I wanted more, but I was confused. Here I was worshiping the King of Kings in a new country, with new people, in a new language – all I wanted was some direction. I wanted to honor my King with my passions. Then she spoke. “I feel like Jesus wants to speak to the writers in the room. So, if you’re a writer, would you please, raise your hand so that we can all pray for you.” Meekly, I raised my hand. “I feel the Lord speaking and declaring that we need people to go and document what he is doing for his people and in the lives of his people.” She kept talking and talking, and more and more hands found themselves extended onto my back, my shoulders, my head. I am weeping before the Lord as she yells: “YOUR DREAM IS NOT DEAD. YOUR PASSION IS NOT DEAD. IT IS NOT DEAD. YOUR DREAM IS NOT DEAD. The Lord wants to use you in His kingdom because he has given you this passion for a reason.” I was shaking because the Lord answered my prayer. He affirmed my passions for writing, and declared that I am allowed to be a writer, and that there a place for my writing in His kingdom.
This moment flipped my writing upside down. Before, I was writing for me because it was all I knew and all I wanted to write about. But, here, the Lord was calling me to do something for His kingdom and for his purposes – like holy crap, The King of Kings wants me to write about his children and his kingdom. He has called me, specifically – out of billions of people.
On the ride home, we reflected on what the Lord did over the week and we were instructed to make a game plan on how to take what we have learned back into school and into usual routine. One of the things of my list was to submit my book over to Jesus by giving it to someone else. When I got home, I put it all on a flash drive, deleted all of my copies online, on my computer, and gave the flash drive over to my friend. At that point, my heart was ready to submit my book because the Lord had given me something better: an intense and real relationship with Him.
I can still write about anything, maybe even return to that story if the Lord calls me back to it. It’s my heart posture that has changed. I want to write about the people I encounter, their stories, their trials, because that is where Jesus is. He is with his children. I have even considered writing about those I met in Tijuana. Jesus has a plan for my writing, and I want to follow him as he directs me.