Today I’m kicking off a new column that will appear on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month – What I’ve Learned Lately. One of the best things about being a writer is meeting people at conferences or through online groups who can be mentors, cheerleaders, and – ahem – motivators when needed. I’ve invited some of these wonderful people to share about some things they’ve learned, whether they’re related to writing, faith, or some other corner of life.
My first guest blogger is Jodie Bailey, whom I met at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference a couple of years ago.
A little intro … Jodie Bailey is an avid reader and an aspiring beach bum. She is a stubborn child who resisted God’s calling for two decades until He hit her over the head with a Beth Moore Bible Study book, and she finally figured out He wanted her to be a writer. When not tapping away at the keyboard, she watches NCIS reruns, eats too many chocolate chip cookies, wishes she were at the beach, reads with her daughter, and follows her Army husband around the country. Visit Jodie online at www.jodiebailey.com.
And now, here’s Jodie, with a lesson I still need to learn every day myself. 🙂
Two years ago, I went to my first writers’ conference. And I had no idea what I was doing. Get this… I was driving six hours to a place I’d never been before, where I knew not one single soul, with a novel God had already told me not to pitch, all because I heard my “dream” agent would be there. If that wasn’t a recipe for disaster, I have no idea what would qualify.
It was about five hours into my drive, while I was happily singing along to Colbie Caillat, when THE VOICE spoke. (No, it was not an audible voice, but humor me here.) Want to know what it said? It said, “Choose now, Jodie. This conference is your make or break. Either writing will be your hobby, or writing will be your ministry for me. Choose.”
Whoa. There is nothing like God laying it on you when you are only one hour away from the gates of Never Been Here Before.
After the most amazing week of my professional life, I got back into my car and drove home, amazed by God. On that drive, I said, “Know what, God? This is for real. I choose to do it for you.” Right there, I surrendered writing to Him and promised to take it as seriously as He wanted.
I would love to tell you I kept that vow. Know what I’ve learned? Surrender is a daily—sometimes a “minutely”—occurrence. It is not something to do once and for all. Because after I made that decision and vowed to give it all to God, I picked it right back up and tried to do it all in my own power. Sometimes I pick it up for a day or so. Recently, I spent about four months doing it all on my own. Guess what happens when you do it all on your own. Nothing. At least not for me. You want a massive case of “can’t think of one single word to write?” Tell God you’ll handle this next book and He can take a break.
God recently had a little sit-down with me. He actually gave me a list of ten things I need to consider about my life. Some things were blessings He’s given me. Some things were convictions I need to work on. One big thing was this: Discipline is an act of worship. God called me to be a writer. When I sit myself down at my desk and press the power on my computer, what do you think He wants me to spend my time doing? I’m guessing it’s not exploring Facebook.
When I turn on my computer to get to work for the day, the greatest act of worship I can perform is doing what God created me to do. God created me to be a writer. He gave me a talent to use or lose. He gave me the time to put words on paper. It is a high honor from Him, and one I should not take for granted. When I—when we—allow ourselves to become what He made us to be, when we do what He called us to do, there is no greater way to praise Him.