I went to a writer’s Conference this weekend. I was scared and unsure and pretty sure I’d walk away knowing I wasn’t a writer. And maybe I did. I’m still not sure.
The overall message I have come away with- Be YOURSELF and share YOUR STORY.
The problem is, what if you don’t know who ‘YOURSELF’ is and what if you’re leery to tell ‘YOUR STORY’ because maybe, just maybe, you don’t really know what ‘YOUR STORY’ is.
So I decided to tell it anyway. I decided that somewhere between uncertain thoughts and fingers typing questionable statements, I would discover my story. I decided to stand firm, proud, confident, and bold on the words I know God has spoken to me-
‘You will teach others with your words.’
‘You are a teacher.’
And here goes… my attempt at discovering myself, my story, and my God…
…There was a man at this weekend’s conference. He briefly mentioned his past engulfed in a Fundamentalist Homeschool Cult, and his journey out the other side. He talked of putting foul language on his blog and proceeded to put that word bold on the large pasty white screen. And we all stared at it. Some encouraged him. Some found their own freedom through him. Some sat quietly in disgust. And some wrestled on the fence between a sort of relief and a question of morals, right, and wrong. That’s where I found myself.
I reminded myself that he didn’t know I was a Fundamental Christian. That he didn’t know I was a Homeschool mom. That he didn’t know it felt like he was labeling me ‘a Cult Member.’ And I wondered what my daughter, seated two seats down from me, thought of it all.
More questions. More doubts. More insecurity and wondering. But after 35 years of life, and 16 years as a Christian, I’m not supposed to have these questions, doubts, and insecurities. I’m supposed to walk into this Break-Out session, hear a man speak on blogging and controversial issues, and decipher the truth from lies.
I’m supposed to spot the heretics and have the answers and all the right words as we make that three hour drive home- my sixteen year old and me. Yeah, I’m supposed to have it all figured out.
One of the speakers asked a question- What are you afraid of? I thought about that for a while, and wrote-
Then I thought more about that and added-
Not the critics, but of the critics being right. And me being wrong.
Was it right for him to use that word? Am I to take offense to the language and the references to a Fundamental Homeschool Cult? Am I a failure because my 16 year old daughter was encouraged and blessed by the things this man shared? Do I have the answers to these questions? Am I supposed to?
Honestly, I don’t know.
Here is what I do know- He chose to use the word. He chose to post it on the world wide web for innumerable people to either scoff at, or consent to. He chose to add it to a power point. And then my daughter and I discussed it.
We talked about our responsibility toward God. About our conscience, “and the truth is, He desires obedience, and was he obeying when he typed that word? With each tap of a letter, did his conscience tell him it was ok?” Because if his spirit is clear before God, then what is my opinion to him? I become nothing more than another fan or an opposing Christian, and he moves on with life.
We talked for hours, her and I, as we neared closer to home and back to real life, about writing, and God, and honoring Him, and being yourself. And I may have walked away more confused than I started.
They all said the same thing- Be yourself. Over and over. Find your voice and tell your story and
“I don’t want to be a Christian writer, if it means writing from the heart and hitting backspace until it feels safe again.”
But how does that marry with all I’ve been taught? How does that jive with the joyous Christian life and the commands to love others and put them before yourself.
Because I’m pretty sure that being myself is completely self focused and in opposition with denying myself. But maybe instead, being myself is actually a form of worshiping my Creator who created me to be me, and no one else.
Or maybe I’m off. Maybe I’m wrong, and the critics will critique, and they will be right. And I will be wrong. And that just might keep me from sharing, questioning, discovering myself, my story, and my God.
Or maybe I’ll share anyway, because after all, I’m a writer, and what else is there to write about if I can’t write what’s on my heart? But writing, even from the heart, mustn’t come at the expense of my honor to Christ.
So in all this messy wandering and wondering and hesitations and doubts, I reaffirm my weary soul by returning to what I know is solid, definite, unwavering and unshakable- Christ and His Word. Though I doubt myself and my finite understanding, though I question my fickle thoughts and second guess my preconceived notions, there remains this- My refuge in Christ; My assurance in the Word.
And at the risk of sounding all Disney, and attempting to throw a happily ever after on the close of a daunting inward struggle, this is where I land- On my Jesus. On His Life-giving Word.
I went to a writer’s conference this weekend hoping that a year from today I would look back and say,
“That Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference changed my life. I will never be the same.”