I’m not a child who grew up with a penchant for prose. Writing hasn’t always been my dream. In fact, it was only about five years ago when the story began to bleed out of me. Maybe they had always been there–the words, the tales—but I only truly became aware of them at that time. This abrupt desire came about after a very distinct dream of a woman abducted by Indians during the gold rush. The dream was so real, and the story so profound, I awoke and immediately began to piece it all together. But, as much as her story affected me, I realized while researching to write the book that I, A. knew very little about the old west, and B. knew even less about writing. So what followed was a scramble as I read every book I could find and every blog or course I could take to help me figure out this writing thing.
In trying to follow this, I went to some conferences, and put down some cash for some online writing guides. But mostly, I just began to write. My first novel, Held, is the by-product of that. And while I will say I believe God lead me through the story, I won’t say it came all at once. It appeared in starts and stops and when it flowed, it was because it was a part that entailed a huge chunk of my heart, of who I was, am. God was using what I knew, where I’d been, to guide me through the uncharted territory of writing. It was such an amazing journey.
But now, I’m somewhere different. I feel I’ve worked and paid some dues. There is solid calling on my life as a writer. And the truth is, I don’t need anyone to confirm this for me, as God has confirmed it in my heart. Don’t think I came by that easily either. I fought. I whined. I looked for every out and excuse I could. I am not a fame seeker, I don’t like the limelight. And if you think that’s why I’m writing, well you just don’t know me. Those things are irrelevant.
There are maybe many things you could do in service of God, but the best is to allow Him to guide you in that one thing he has planned before the creation of time, His call on your life. Can you please God by following your own agenda? Maybe. I don’t really know. But can you find true fulfillment in anything other than His plan for you? I highly doubt it.
Still, some don’t want that. They shy away from full surrender. Total abandon isn’t in their nature. I imagine there are millions of lives being wasted, or at the very least, survived, outside of His ultimate will. That would never be enough for me though. I want more. I want the MORE, the search for the fullness of all God has for me.
So that’s why I find it so amusing that, as I am working through a study on my life, and my calling, I all but missed that altogether.
I have always, always, always been restless. ALWAYS. In so many ways, I still am. It’s my biggest struggle, this unsettled feeling of unknown. Where do I go? What do I do? As I’ve grown closer to God and accepted more of what His plans are for me, some of that has smoothed out. But there is always an underlying tension in following Him. I’m unsure whether that ever goes away, or even if I want it to. Is it possible that electricity is part of what drives us forward? And, as I’m working through Restless by Jennie Allen, I have to wonder, is restless always a bad thing? Possibly, if it keeps us crippled in doubt then that’s certainly not helpful, but if it moves us towards a bigger purpose then, maybe…just maybe, it is.
Occasionally, my restless times have gotten me in trouble. Yet, there are so many ways in which I am restless still. Ways that drive me to God, and not away from Him. I long to see more of His Spirit. I desire to see His Body move in the world. I want to know His purposes for myself–and others–so badly that I chase after Him in everyday and every single experience I can. I am restless, longing for a stronger reality of God, with God. I know it’s possible, I know it’s there, it’s so close to my fingertips. And that sensation of almost catching Him, THAT restless, that’s what moves me out of my comfort zone, into the crazy, unpredictable, life of a follower of Christ. A restless child, I am.
That’s why I love Jenny’s book. And I love her. Love. Her. Period. Her writing is her soul bleeding off the page and I have never felt closer to any other Bible teacher than I do to Jenny Allen. If anyone truly loves her readers, and Christ who guides her, it is Jenny Allen. I dare you to read her words and argue that with me. I dare you. She’s the real deal people. She has tasted the More and she knows we can too, and she wants to help us get there.
In Restless, Jenny walks us through the story of Joseph from Genesis 37-50. But she doesn’t just take us there, she brings it to us. By looking into our lives, through the reflection of Josephs struggle, she helps us see where our past pain, and passions, can help us see a bigger picture—God’s picture—of our purpose.
At first, this was very difficult for me. Quite frankly, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. When something comes too easily I am often skeptical. That restless spirit in me cries out for opposition, for struggle, it wants to strive. Nothing worth having is cheap. Not a cheap life and certainly not cheap grace. But this study had me stumped.
See, Jenny asks us to look at our past and find times where we felt happy, where we felt special and loved, or times that resonated with joy in our spirit. She breaks this down into age groups beginning at age 0-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24, 25+. This perplexed me. Honestly, I couldn’t really seem to find anything in those times where I truly felt what she was asking. At first, I was just confused. Then, I became kind of frustrated. Lastly, after a couple weeks of trying to make something come, I began to get a little scared. Why couldn’t I get in touch with my feelings from my past?
Oh, I could remember my past, at least to some degree. Yet, I seemed unable to reach in and find any feelings attached to my memories. It was as if I had no feelings attached to my memories. It was as if, I wasn’t in touch with my feelings from my childhood and adolescence. When I realized this, I realized it was true. There was over half of my life that was inaccessible to me emotionally.
Getting in touch with the tragedy in my past was no problem. I could identify a major event, if not multiple ones, in all five time frames she requested. It wasn’t until I started acknowledging those events, and making peace with them, that I began to see what my joys had truly been.
They had been there all along; words. Not in the sense of my own writing, but in story. I have always been a reader, a dreamer, a sojourner into the stories of others.
As far back as I can remember books—words—have been a part of my life. Some of my fondest memories are my father reading the The Pokey Little Puppy and Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear to me as a child. I can remember the tale of Little Bear playing in the snow, and after his many attempts to get warm his Mother Bear informs him he already has a fur coat. Oh, yeah. That’s me, always having to be reminded that I already possess all that I need. (0-6 years)
Then, there was the way I learned to have empathy for the pain of others by reading the biography of Marilyn Monroe in the third grade. I will never forget the explicit (especially for an 8 year old) nature of her struggles with men, her fame, and her own self-image. If I want to draw from a place to minister to the hurting, there’s that. And who can forget the required reading of Old Yeller. Does my love for dogs somehow stem there? And how can I use my understanding of love and loyalty through that tale to impact others? (age 7-12)
I remember in junior high (age 13-18) getting my first taste of Stephen King’s work. And say what you want about him, but he is a master wordsmith. I still get choked up when I think of his description of a father’s pain after the death of his son (Pet Cemetery.) It’s been over 25 years since I read that book, and although the exact words escape, they are unnecessary, because the story remains—the emotion remains. A father dreaming of his son’s name being called as he takes to the diving board to win the Olympic Gold, and then the crushing reality; this dream will never be, his son is dead. It still makes me catch my breath. His characters became as real to me. Their pain haunted me, and still does!
And what haunts me even more? This is what I can do. I can write words that forever change a life. I can write words that will guide a heart. I can write stories that will teach, and preach, and lead the world back to the One who created it. I can, because I am a writer.
I AM a writer.
SO! Here’s your FRIDAY FREEBIE assignment: leave me a comment on your thoughts.
Whats is your calling? What ARE you? What moves you and keeps your spirit RESTLESS for MORE?
I want to know and I want to help you move towards your dreams! How can I help you?
Tell me in the comments for your chance to win a FREE copy of W.G. Griffiths novel Takedown. I just read it last month and it is a knock-out fast-paced battle of Good versus Evil that will leave you breathless! Don’t miss out! And there may be some chocolate involved as well…I’m just sayin’ 😉