According to my mom, I was the girl who grew up with “her nose in a book,” so a bookstore was always a happy, wonder-filled place. That’s why I remember the first time I walked in a bookstore, not just as a reader but as a hopeful writer, and felt deflated.
There’s nothing I could say that hasn’t already been said.
Although this thought stubbornly circulates through my mind, the stirring to communicate hope is persistent too. Psalm 107:2 says “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,” and my “say-so” comes most naturally through writing.
As a writing tutor for seminary students, I’m supposed to know all about writing, but when I sit with my laptop, sometimes all I know is this: writing is hard.
There are days when putting words together in an inspired or meaningful way doesn’t come naturally.
The encourager in me wants to write words that minister but the editor in me gets bogged down by the mechanics. You know – grammar, sentence variety, paragraph length, and stuff like that.
And this part of me that has long battled with measurements struggles against the stats. Oh, how I wish I would just write without worrying about who is (or isn’t) reading or sharing or commenting or “liking.”
The spiritual part of me desires to write for my “Audience of One.” The flesh part of me wants to write just one post that goes viral. I say it’s for God’s glory, but I struggle. Writers know how essential it is to know our audience. But oftentimes I labor out of this desire to be known.
As the She Speaks conference approached, I finally surrendered this striving. Having already paid good money, I felt compelled to attend the conference, but I told God I was ready to stop blogging if He led me to. In the weeks leading up to She Speaks, I wrestled with the ideas of “building a platform” and mingling with writers who were already “there” when I seemed already done.
So I asked God to give me a reason, other than the money, to go.
Two days before She Speaks, I found my purpose in these words from Jennifer Dukes Lee:
Her dad taught her that when you walk into a room, you never say, “Here I am!”
Instead, you say, “There you are!”
You don’t actually have to say the words out loud, but you might. You can speak with your whole self.
You want to make a difference in the world? You want to spread joy? You want to let people know they matter?
It starts with how you walk into a room.
That’s the essence of self-forgetfulness. That’s the spine of being other-referenced. That’s the heartbeat of serving our fellow man, putting someone else first, following the Golden Rule. It’s gospel humility. It’s not thinking less of yourself – but thinking of yourself less.
This attitude, God said, is your approach. Go to She Speaks and speak life.
And God graced this reluctant introvert to meet my fellow writers with an attitude of “There you are!” And I found this spirit coming right back at me, overwhelmingly, like a flood of grace and gospel humility.
Competition made way for communion.
Comparison made way for community.
I felt known.
And being known through fame can’t satisfy like being known through fellowship. Communion and community are transforming the “why” and the “how” of my writing.
When I find myself thinking about my stats more than the state of my heart and when I catch myself entering into a post with a “Here I am!” mindset, I pull out these words and remember:
You can see it in the anatomy of a soul: we weren’t made for standing on platforms, but were formed to serve from the beauty of bent knees—the servant lowering into the glory of the upside-down Kingdom.
The only call on a Christian is not to pick up a microphone, not to pick some stairs to some higher platform, but to pick up a cross and come die. The only call on a Christian is to build every platform into the shape of an altar, to shape every platform into the form of sacrificial service.
The King of Kings lowered into our existence because He knew me. And you. He beckons us not to a platform but to pattern our lives around a common goal, to know Him and make Him known. Then our writing flows out of and into communion and community.
I’d like to introduce you to comrades of the upside-down Kingdom. In their words, you sense that they write not for measurable outcomes but to make offerings. These “bent-knee” servants are using their words to make The Word known:
Michelle writes @ Journey Pink (The Journey of a Princess In Need of a King). In Michelle, I see a compassionate, brave, genuine soul. She truly wants her readers to experience the freeing assurance and extravagant love of King Jesus. Michelle’s post, “Serve Him” has been especially inspiring when my perspective and purpose get off-kilter. When I read Michelle’s lovely words at Journey Pink, my breath feels freer and my spirit feels stronger.
I met Linda through the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood where I was drawn to her experiences in caregiving for an elderly parent. With her gentle spirit, Linda expresses empathy for caregivers as she writes the series “Giving Care God’s Way“. Linda’s joy in the Lord is contagious: “Through His love and hope for Mama’s future and mine, I have been reassured of His Presence and Omniscience in my life. I know that I have a hope in the LORD that is truly unsinkable. I can sing with joy for He, indeed, dealt with me bountifully.” Find Linda at her blog, Being Woven, where she weaves spiritual lessons into daily experiences.
At She Speaks, my new friend Paris Renae truly personified a “There You Are!” spirit. Through her graciousness and warmth, God set my anxieties at ease. Go to Stories of our Lives to see the ordinary in extraordinary ways as my sweet friend intertwines stories with thoughtful reflections and God-moments.
I’m so grateful for Anita who encourages me through her sites Postcards of Hope in God and Scattering the Stones. Through Postcards of Hope, Anita gives the redeemed an opportunity to “say so.” This is a place where people share their testimonies of the victorious things God is doing. At Scattering the Stones, Anita shares her heart’s desire: “to walk alongside those who are in pain, reflecting God’s love and grace. My hope is that the devotions I share with you are a signpost to our God, who wants a relationship with us.”
Kristi is one of my dearest friends, truly a kindred spirit and sister in Christ. Kristi is fun, lively, sold-out for Jesus, and real. With courage and conviction, Kristi writes at Real.Deep.Stuff as an offering to her Lord and Savior. Making Jesus known among neighbors and nations is Kristi’s – and her family’s – heartbeat, and I am inspired and challenged by their journeys of faith.
When I need to refocus on the “why” and “how” of writing, making art, or following God’s call, I turn to these notes I compiled from She Speaks contributors (Emily Freeman, Christine Caine, Glynnis Whitwer, and more), plus other gifted artists and authors (including Ann Voskamp & Jeff Goins). Click here for the printable!
Linking gratefully today with Jennifer Dukes Lee and a community of writers who inspire me to live in a “There You Are!” way –
“He Knows My Name” – Francesca Battistelli
I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name