Words are important. They are necessary for communication – the fun kind and the necessary kind – they’re used in music, learning, and literature. I love words – I legitimately love them, in full knowledge that “love” is a strong word and I should not use it trivially, and I don’t think I am. I love reading words and I love writing words. I love what they do together. I love that a bunch of letters that look kind of like some quite well-groomed giraffes can be spaced near to each other and make so much sense that I want to cry because the person who put them together gets my heart. I love that these conduits of functional communication can be turned into pages and chapters and series of sincerely heartfelt written expression.
Words make so much sense to me, and if they don’t, they just need to be rearranged once or twice until they do. I have always loved words, to the point where I decided that I should put words together and then let people read them on purpose. It was going well. I was doing good things, saving the world, etc., and occasionally writing about Jesus.
Then the other day I was trying to write a blog post and I edited and edited (I had been editing this one thing for weeks already) and it wasn’t getting better. No matter what I did to it, it was still not great. And I got so sad. I thought I had lost my writing ability and it cut me down. I felt like maybe I was evaporating into thin air in the middle of a coffee shop. My existence was no longer necessary.
I was hit by this significantly more than I should have been. I thought maybe I was having an almost-quarter-life crisis (that is not even a thing, so I guess a plain old emotional crisis), but as I talked to my roommate about it, I realized that I was having less of a crisis and more of a tantrum. Tantrums are different now that I’m not six years old so I don’t have the same symptoms…but still I have tantrums. These days, tantrums usually include long-term pouting and ordering fries – just fries at restaurants and expecting everyone and everything around me to conform to my standard of perfection and know exactly how to make me feel happy and fulfilled (yes, even and especially the inanimate objects).
I had made an idol out of my writing. I thought it was mine. I was convinced by myself that I was the best writer ever and that all the words I wrote were true because I wrote them and that I deserved recognition and praise and honor and a few book offers. I subconsciously but quite vainly thought that I was God’s gift to literature (never mind that I have a small blog and that I’m a nineteen year old girl who has only taken two college English classes ever). I wanted to think those wonderful and affirming things about myself, so I did. My ego was pretty inflated, not unlike a cream puff.
Not that I’m a bad writer (because, now that I have come back to my senses, I don’t think that I am) or that being a good writer is bad or knowing that you are good at something makes it automatically an idol, because those things aren’t necessarily true, but I was off and I was wrong. My perspective of myself and the reason I was writing were skewed and then I fell hard, because old habits and vanity die hard.
In a small amount of time, I went from major vanity and overconfidence to no self-esteem. Out of nowhere, I felt that I did not have and had never had any original thoughts to share, that all of my words sounded obnoxious, that I somehow sounded too old-fashioned and too much like a millennial at the same time, and that I was destined to fail at anything I could ever consider trying in the future.
The thing about my mind is that it doesn’t stop to think about things. It tends toward the drastically, dastardly overdramatic, without my giving it permission to overreact to things. So instead of being slightly discouraged, I was crushed. My heart felt extinguished. I wondered, now that I obviously could not continue writing because I was so terrible at it, what I would do with my future free time. I thought that writing was my “thing” and now I wouldn’t have a thing and I would be doomed to be aimless and move home and drop out of college and be a potato (of the couch variety) for the rest of my life. I liked having a cool, thought-provoking, vocabulary-expanding, therapeutic hobby. I very much wanted attention from people who thought I was wise and articulate.
I also wanted to write about Jesus, and I wanted to share Him with people. It wasn’t really an afterthought; it just was not as much of a priority as eloquence and literary glory were. I wanted people to read my words and know automatically from whatever it was they were reading (even if it wasn’t something explicitly about Jesus) that I love Jesus and I wanted them to feel inspired and convicted but in a mostly positive way after they were finished and then I wanted them to love me more because of it.
I had taken something good, something God-given and God-created, and tried to make it mine. But, as I did not create the universe and/or everything in it, I was unsuccessful in trying to own all of literature. I wanted writing to be my thing. I wanted to lead people to Jesus when I felt like it, I wanted to be adorable and witty when I felt like, and I wanted to express thoughtful but not annoying social commentary when I felt like it. I like to control things, and I was trying to control the way people saw me – as a flawless, cute, genuine, wispy-haired, intriguing writer girl who also loves Jesus but not in an inconvenient way – and it did not work.
I am a perfectly adequate writer. I am not the worst; I am a competent English-speaking and -writing individual. I want to continue to practice so that I can improve. But writing is not the only way I can (and do) represent God to the world.
I am representing Him all the time. On bad days where I’m wearing a baseball cap to school because I am in such a bad mood that I don’t want to make eye contact with even one person and also on those days where I am so happy that springtime is finally here that I can’t not skip around on my way to class.
Whether or not I am consciously aware of it, whether or not I am ready, whether or not I want to, I’m showing the world who God is. I committed to having Him in my heart for the rest of my life, which means that I am representing Him through my heart and life for the rest of my life. This means that all of my accomplishments and all of my mistakes and all of the things in between are examples of what a child of God does and is.
I’ve been given the ability to write and I am thankful for it and love it, but that does not make it mine. I want my life to be glory to Christ, which means that I use the things He has given me to make Him bigger, not me. If I was amazing at everything, He would not be glorified in anything. He must increase and I must decrease.