"For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction,
so that we may have hope through endurance and through
the encouragement from the Scriptures."
―Romans 15:4, HCSB
Middle of the Pack
My earliest memories of grade school are sketchy, but I do remember my first writing assignment in the first grade. Our teacher handed each student a ruled sheet of handwriting paper and told us to write our names on the first line. How hard could it be, right? With a pencil as broad as my thumb and my tongue thrust between my teeth at just the right angle, I scrawled my name with broad, deliberate strokes on the top line of my paper. As our teacher ambled through the rows of students, she gave nods of approval―until she came to me. With a scowl, she eyed my name―written on the first line of the top margin instead of within the first two lines―and with a gruff reprimand gave my blonde bangs a quick yank. (No wonder it’s taken me over two-thirds of my life to realize I’m a writer. If not for that early trauma, I’m convinced I’d be a New York Times best-selling author by now.)
I’ve written in a journal the majority of my adult life, but I never thought of myself as a writer. I was simply doing what came naturally. I have drawers of journals spanning several decades that shelter great portions of my life. Thumbing through their pages, I warmly recall long-forgotten events and am reminded of the importance of writing things down.
My journals are a place to record significant events, tape special cards and photos, sort through my thoughts, and process my feelings. Above all, my journals are a place to pour out the fountain of my heart to God and record his words to me. Being able to look back and remember his faithfulness throughout my life is encouraging as I face new challenges. I keep in mind that what God did before, he can and will do again.
In 2011, a dear friend invited me to a writer’s conference held in the mountains north of Phoenix. There, surrounded by a small group of women who shared a passion for writing, I was incurably bitten by the writing bug and uncovered my gift and love of words. To discover this incredible skill in the winter of my life is bittersweet. On one hand, it’s exhilarating, and on the other hand, discouraging. The more I learn about writing, the more I realize how much more there is to learn. The frustrating fact is that I haven’t enough years left to perfect my craft. My redemption is that it’s never too late to begin writing and experience its joys. Even, if only writing for an audience of one, my time with Him is worth the benefits it brings.
Writing is therapeutic and invigorating. It brings healing to my body, mind and spirit. Just as my body needs physical exercise to keep in shape, writing jumpstarts and gives my brain a workout. It refines my thoughts, flushes the slush, and permits those things worth keeping to rise to the surface.
The greatest temptation and hindrance to my growth as a writer is allowing myself to fall into a pit of comparison. Reading the brilliant works of others should serve as a path of inspiration and learning. Instead, there are times my inner critic uses them to usher me down the boulevard of discouragement. My inner critic’s voice assures me my work will never be “as good” as theirs, while my voice of reason lies sprawled in the ditch of despair. The temptation to choose an alternate route and bypass the gift within me seems like a plausible solution until I remind myself: anything worth doing takes effort, but the reward is always great.
Training my heart to express gratitude for the privilege of writing and keeping a steady pace in the midst of my struggle are keys that release a spirit of joy within me. Regardless of which route I take, I’ll always be where I need to be―in the middle of the pack. When I look ahead, I see throngs of people on the trail before me. I work hard to catch up. As I look behind me, I see others who need words of encouragement. I offer them. As I look from side to side, I realize I’m not alone. Others walk with me, ready to give me a hand up when I stumble. I'll take it.
Writing may be a solitary journey, but it’s not a solo sport; I don’t need to walk alone.
Besides, I’m learning to like being in the middle of the pack. I'm in great company here!
I always welcome your comments.
Day 10: My 500 Words ~ 764 words
Challenge: Write about writing