Over the past several months, I’ve posted short articles I wrote during my year as a reader-columnist for my local newspaper’s faith section. Writing those 450-word columns rekindled my love for a perfectly turned phrase, and it also paved the way for what would become my next project: this blog. The following post is the last of these columns; it originally appeared in the Kansas City Star.
Four hundred fifty words.
That’s how long this column is supposed to be. It doesn’t sound like much, not for someone who once made her living as a newspaper reporter.
Writing has always come naturally to me. Besides influencing my career choices, it’s how I best express my faith and articulate God’s presence in my life.
No, 450 words has never been much to me—except when I couldn’t write at all.
Somewhere, in the midst of my hormonally challenged mid-30s, I lost my voice, literarily. For about seven years, I felt like I was wandering around in a wilderness, unable to focus on any kind of writing except an occasional press release for my church. I’d always planned to revise a book I had written about infertility for a broader audience. But every time I thought about starting this project, I could barely breathe.
Although I tried to be OK with this long drought of the soul, I often wondered when it would end and if I would ever write anything meaningful again. Through this time, one thing that kept me going was my desperate conviction that I would be able to write about what I was experiencing some day, and that it would be of help to someone else.
That, and prayer.
Day after day, I talked to God via computer keyboard. I have countless files of rambling prayers nobody will ever read, probably not even me. But through that dry time, they were my oxygen.
I didn’t do this every day, and there were stretches of time when I didn’t do it at all. But after awhile, I was always drawn back to the computer, the one place where I could pour out my heart and know my heavenly Father was listening.
I’d sit down at my desk, exhausted, anxious, overwhelmed. I’d cast my burdens on him, one by one. I’d remind him, over and over, that apart from him I can do nothing. I clung tightly to the promise of Psalm 138:8, that the Lord would fulfill his purpose for me, even if I had no idea what that purpose might be.
Now, thankfully, the fog has lifted. For maybe the first time ever, I’m actually finding joy in writing. These 450-word columns are flowing rather easily, and that book I planned to revise? I’m working on it now, but it looks much different than I originally imagined.
My heart has changed, and, with it, my writing voice. I’m far less confident in my own abilities, and far more dependent on the One who gave me those abilities. That, I hope, will make for a much more useful story, however long it turns out to be.