Can I let you in on a secret?
Three weeks ago, I kind of decided to stop writing.
I’ve been blogging now for three and a half years and I’ve written three books, but unfortunately, experience does not always equal confidence. I have this frenemy called Self-Doubt that loves to perch on my shoulder and whisper all kinds of nonsense in my ear.
“Someone else can say this better.”
“There are approximately ten gazillion writers in the world. All you’re doing is adding to the noise.”
“People are busy. They have better things to do than to read your ramblings.”
“Why spend so much time on something that people may not even read? Have you seen your laundry pile? You’ve got things to do. Priorities, sister.”
“It’s painful to open your heart. Don’t let people see that stuff.”
“They’re going to criticize you, you know.”
“You’re actually not very good at this.”
I’m uber-familiar with these tapes that play in my head, but they really ramped up three weeks ago. I had taken a month off from writing, and life felt easier. It was nice to have a break from risk. From vulnerability. I thought, “I could just make this an open-ended break. It’s time to renew my website contract anyway. I could just forget to renew it…” In his article, “Humility and Greatness are the Same Thing,” Scott Sauls says, “…when we are confronted with failure and with not measuring up, our impulse is to run for cover, to shield ourselves from condemnation and shame, to put up a defense…” This was me. The potential for failure felt too crushing. I was ready to run for cover.
Then I remembered an article I had written several months before but had never published. “Okay, fine. I’ll post this one last time. I’ve already written it—might as well.” The article was called “The Mom I Was Going to Be,” and it made people cry. The response was big. It was shared more than one thousand times—more shares than I’d ever gotten, besides that time I wrote an article for TGC.
“Hmm…wow. Okay, I’ll write ONE MORE TIME.” Friends had been asking for my notes to a parenting talk that my husband and I gave at church. My notes were a mess, so I wrote them as a blog post instead. And then my world blew up. 61,000 shares and 225,000 views later, here we are. I can’t tell you how many people have messaged me to tell me that God has used this article to literally change their lives. The article I almost didn’t write. Because I was going to stop writing. Because I was too discouraged by the voices in my head.
I have to wonder…was the enemy at work, deceiving, discouraging, and distracting, because he knew God was up to something big? What if I had listened? What if I had pulled the plug because the voices won?
How many times have we thrown away a chance to actively participate in God’s redemptive story because we bought the lies of the enemy? God has uniquely crafted each of us to play a special role in His creation and He wants to use our gifts to offer grace and truth to the world around us. How often do we miss opportunities to do just that because we’re scared? Because we listen to the voices that say, “Someone else can do this better than you, so why even try”?
It’s kind of selfish, if you think about it. “I won’t offer this thing I’m passionate about—this thing I’m kind of good at—because someone may not like it and then I’ll feel bad about myself. I’ll bury this talent in the sand because at least then I won’t be hurt.” Think of the beauty, the insight, the wisdom we would miss out on if all the creatives of the world bought those lies. Think of the faith-building moments we miss out on when we believe those lies.
“I was going to stop writing,” I told my husband. “I was going to stop writing because I couldn’t take the condemnation in my head. But look what God has done!” He asked me to journal my thoughts so that next time, (because he knows me well enough to know there will be a next time), I can read my words and remember what I could have missed had I listened to the enemy of my soul.
I’ve learned my lesson—for now, at least. What about you? What talent have you pushed below the sand? What opportunities have you said no to because the risk felt too great—because you were too afraid to face your critics, real and imaginary? Who knows what God may be up to? For your sake, for our sakes, and for the sake of the greater gospel story, I hope your no becomes a yes.