We’ve all been there. We’ve all asked ourselves that eternal set of questions:
“Who am I?”
“What am I doing with my life?”
“What is my purpose?”
“Why am I here?”
For me, these past seven months have been a journey of redefining myself as a result of strictly imposed restrictions on what I used to believe I was. I was, a Behavior Specialist who was going to college to become a teacher. I was, but I’m not anymore.
Two things have been a constant in my life no matter what I thought I wanted to be, or what I became because of doors that opened – if only temporarily – and then closed again.
My faith in God
My love of writing
From the earliest part of my life that I’m able to remember, I have prayed daily, and I have been a writer. I can recall my five year old self – white ruffled baby-doll pajamas with little pink flowers that were all the rage for every little girl in the very early 1970’s, fuzzy pink slippers, kneeling at the side of my bed, to say my nightly prayers;
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die, before I wake,
I pray the Lord, my soul to take.
I said that prayer every single night without fail, for I don’t know how many years. When I grew up and became an “official born-again Christian” – as some would say – I stopped one evening to question what that prayer really meant. It was a simple request of God:
Lord, if I live through the night, let me keep my soul. If I die, take it and protect it for me
Simple. Basic. Done.
Nowadays, my nightly prayers are much more complicated that that. I regularly thank the Lord for His love, blessings and mercy. I regularly pray for forgiveness; not just for me, but for my husband, and each of my now adult children, and even their significant others, because hey… when you’re in my family, you’re really in my family, whether or not we agree on politics or God. I pray for protection, guidance, healing, and then throw in whatever current issues I have for myself, and for any family members I’m concerned about. I ask the Lord to bless everyone who has blessed me and my family in any way, and I ask Him to allow us to be a blessing to Him, to each other, and others.
Very different set of prayers from childhood.
The other constant, is that no matter whatever else I thought I was or wanted to be, I have always been a writer. Always. I remember before I could actually read or write, I would take crayon to paper, make those little scribbly writing lines that every small child thinks is real writing just like mommy & daddy make on their paper, and I would “read” my scribble stories to my stuffed animals and dolls as they sat lined up against the wall on my bed, and listened astutely to my wonderful adventures.
As I grew older, and learned to read and write, I did both with a passion that even J.K. Rowling would be proud of! I couldn’t get enough of books! I read, and read. The most exciting time in my childhood was when the Bookmobile would come to my neighborhood. Lord, have mercy, but I would absolutely be beside myself with joy over the Bookmobile! My mother and I don’t have the greatest relationship on the planet, but one thing I will say is that she instilled a love of reading in me, and has always encouraged me to write. I have no idea why, because that’s really the only encouraging area she played in my life, but I’m thankful for it, and have told her as much. But I digress…
These days, I’ve been working on writing my books, and am still going to college, but have changed my major from History to Religious Studies – the two intertwine so closely that I’m actually ahead of the game for the change – because one thing that has become evident in recent months, is that the Lord wants me to go in the church direction, and has graciously allowed me the time to write as I’ve always wanted to. Win-win situation.
During the process of writing, I have been reading about other writers and the method to this madness of becoming a successful and published author. I’ve learned quite a lot from J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Earnest Hemingway, Henry David Thoreau, Elmore Leonard, Saul Bellow, and a host of other famous authors, but the single most important thing I have discovered on my own is this:
None of what they say actually has anything to do with how I write.
Hear me out – I am completely a fan of several of the aforementioned authors and have nothing but respect for them and for their process of making great literature. They are the writers I look up to and I aspire to attain that level of success – sooner rather than later, God willing – but they are not me and I am not them. What one says to always do, another says to never do. One will tell you to always outline and have your plot and ending ready before you ever put pen to paper, while another will tell you to sit down and just start writing – plot be damned – it’ll work itself out in the rewriting and editing phase. One will say, “treat it like a regular job where you’re on the clock from 9 to 5“, while another will tell you to, “write anywhere, anytime, as long as you WRITE!”- I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you get the idea – and you know what? They’re all right! And they’re all wrong! Why? Because that’s what works for them! But it may not work for me. It may or may not work for you!
We are all writers, but we are all different.
“So what’s the point?”
The point is – you are an individual who was made to be something special, and it’s not up to any other human being to tell you who or what to be or how to be it. Sometimes in life, the road we think we were meant to travel suddenly forks, and the way you were going, now has an enormous roadblock. You will find yourself faced with having to go an entirely different direction than you the one you thought you were supposed to go, and it can be terrifying! Pray. Ask the Lord for guidance and direction. Ask Him what He created you to be, and then ask Him to help you to become the best version of that person that you can be!
“And if I don’t believe in God?” you ask?
Well then just be the best you that you can possibly be, make the best decisions you can, and don’t do harm to anyone. In the meantime, I’ll pray that you find God, because He already knows you, whether or not you know Him.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
NOW GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING GOOD WITH YOURSELF!