Lately I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Stephanie Kehr a little better, and I’m so glad I get to share this guest post with you. It’s really good and I’m glad she gets to open up our second day of Inkling to Write!
When Jesus Takes Writing Away
I’d tried everything to make my brain write. I tried different stories, different music, I tried talking to people about it, and I even tried writing about not being able to write. I tried taking a shower, plotting my books and not plotting my books. I started fifty different stories and hundreds of different blog posts. Still, nothing came. There were words and stories inside my head, but none of them wanted to make their way outside of it. I tried for three years, and nothing.
After living out a grief period over losing my lifeline, I began to wonder if Jesus had taken away my writing for a reason. I had always feared that He would, someday. There had been times when I’d offered it up to Him and completely surrendered my pen to His will. I just never expected Him to take me up on it. But through the process, despite lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth, He taught me a lot about myself that I didn’t know I needed to learn. He prepared me for a future I didn’t know I was going to have.
Now, only a few months after my three-year silence, I’m writing regularly for a publishing company, taking over submissions for a literary agent, penning this guest post, and working on the literature for a real estate website. It’s crazy.
A lot changed.
In some ways, I was waiting for that change. I knew it would come because I knew I loved writing too much to let it go. I knew that God had called me to this, that He’s always called me to this, and although I was afraid of my loss I wasn’t necessarily convinced I would never regain it.
Back in the days when I was just starting out as a writer, I used to be really into those inspirational quotes. You know, the ones that say, “never stop writing,” and “you only quit if you stop writing”? They’re on Pinterest. As cute as they are, I don’t find a lot of truth in them anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so incredibly important to do your best and put everything into the work you do. I’m a big believer in working hard and beating the odds.
However, we must recognize that a lot of these ideas come from secular writers. That’s not a bad thing–it’s just that we have to realize we’re different. We’re writing for Jesus instead, and there’s going to come a point in every Christian writer’s life, perhaps multiple points, when Jesus might decide to take writing away.
As Christians and writers, we have two huge responsibilities. The first is to share the gospel through our pen, and the second is to listen to the Holy Spirit and write what He lays on our hearts. Or, maybe, to stop writing when He tells us to stop.
I know, this isn’t what you expected to see in a conference that’s supposed to encourage you in your writing. It’s a little ironic, but it isn’t without a point. Here I’m going to share with you four reasons why God might be asking you to take a break. And why that also might be okay.
1) The Holy Spirit is Quiet
We know this happens in our lives, why not our writing? We don’t know why the Lord chooses to sometimes hush the Spirit, but we do know that He is good and He has a plan. Likely, we’ll find out soon enough what His reasons are. If the Holy Spirit is quiet and doesn’t have much for you to say, listen to Him. Sometimes we writers think we need to come up with spiritual content all the time. But if the Holy Spirit isn’t speaking to you, it could be dangerous for you to try to force words from God. Go take a break from speaking out, and choose to spend some time focusing on listening and reading the word. Choosing to be still is a big part of the Christian walk. God probably has all sorts of awesome things to show you!
For some seasons, God has often asked me to only create spiritual content: things that matter to eternity. That’s not an across the board thing, though. If you want to keep writing during your period of quietness, perhaps think about writing about something else. Focus on creativity, lifestyle tips, or do a blog tour until you feel like the Lord has given you the green light again. There’s no shame in switching things up. But again, make sure it’s okay between you and God before you decide to take that step, too. Be okay with being still.
2) You’re in Sin
So, this one kind of sucks. For me, sin creates this horrible snowball effect. Sin separates me from God, God separates me from writing, not being able to write separates me from who I am as a person. It’s super uncool. God and my writing are so connected to each other that without God, I am basically wordless.
I’ve noticed, too, that if I’m in sin and I still try to write about God, my writing ends up being a total spiritual disaster. My theme strays from a relationship with God and focuses more on my opinions. I weave in my bitterness about certain issues, and it’s like I’m just spreading around this horrible darkness to the world. The Lord usually stops these books or articles in their tracks, and I just can’t finish them.
Not that God doesn’t use us even in our sin, He does. It’s just important to be “slow to speak” in our writing as well as with our voices. I think God uses silence of the pen to make us think about the content we’re putting out. For me, I know He’s used it to protect me and others from my own disasters.
The last year of my unwelcome hiatus was particularly a bad year spiritually. I was holding onto a lot of anger and bitterness against God and against other people. When I started repenting of that sin and drawing near to God, I found that He drew nearer to me, and words started to return. The danger was over, so it was okay for me to start speaking again. Think about when God silenced Zechariah when he didn’t believe he and Elizabeth would have a son. He was silenced until he was ready to praise the Lord. I think being a Christian writer is kind of like that.
3) You’re in Danger of Making Writing (or success) an Idol
God’s going to use your writing, there’s no question. Especially if you’re seeking after Him and following the Holy Spirit, He’s going to speak through you to bring the gospel forward. But here’s the deal. God loves you so incredibly much and He doesn’t want anything, even something as wonderful and amazing as writing, to come in between you and Him. Idols are dangerous. He doesn’t want His children to be in danger. Instead, He wants you to be healthy so that you can be in communion with Him and share His word with others. If this requires taking writing away for a little bit, that’s what it requires.
I’ve always been most afraid of losing my words. But I know that even if I do, and even when I did, that He’s there. I only lose everything when I lose Him.
4) God Has Something Better
I’m a little bias toward writing. What could actually be better? I don’t know — but God does. It might be that He’s asking you to take a break from writing for a little bit so that He can show you something even greater. Maybe He wants to move in your life, or take you toward a career or ministry that fits you even better! Remember that He is trustworthy, and He’s not going to make you jump off a cliff unless He’s already waiting to catch you.
Remember, by no means am I encouraging you to stop writing. I love writing. Writing is incredible and it can speak and heal and do so many beautiful things. What I am encouraging you to do, though, is to listen to the Lord. Always have your ear open to what He’s trying to tell or show you. Always be in communion with God, and that way, you can never go wrong. Always, always, always fight for your words, but never fight against God.
About Stephanie: Stephanie is a professional writer and journalist living outside of Buffalo, New York, where it probably snows a lot. She’s pursuing publication for her first novel, Reaching Home, and she spends her quiet moments writing poetry and blogging about her adventures with God. Stephanie has a heart for sharing real stories and encouraging authors to write for Jesus and to love what they do. She’s a big believer in hard work, audiobooks, and chocolate, and can usually be found changing the world somewhere.