While today we memorialize those who sacrificed their lives for our country and recall other loved ones who have passed away, I thought this would also be a good day to remember a touchstone writerly memory. I’m going to share a watershed moment in my publishing career and then give each of you an opportunity to add a remembrance of God’s goodness to you as you pursued your writing dreams.
My publishing career began with a bang, literally. I slammed shut the door, cast my eyes up to heaven, and silently proclaimed, God, at the tender age of 21, you have ruined my life.
That was the day I received my assignment as a new staff member of Campus Crusade for Christ (now renamed Cru). When you join Cru, you agree that you’ll go wherever you are assigned. After a summer of Bible training, new staff members received their assignments in envelopes, and we pledged not to talk to anyone but God about our assignment for 24 hours. I became a part of Cru because I wanted to work on a college campus, but that’s not what my envelope contained. Instead, I was assigned to the publications department.
I believed that assignment doomed me to failure. While I had majored in English in college, I had done no writing beyond required essays and some poetry. That didn’t prepare me to write brochures, magazine and newspaper articles, do actual reporting (eek!), or write video scripts.
As I moaned to God about my destroyed life, I realized that I had to raise my support. Surely, if God didn’t want me in the publications department, the support wouldn’t come in, right?
So I headed back to my family’s home in Colorado and worked at finding people who would support my work in the publications department. When I met with individuals, I had quite a spiel about the multiplied effect writing could have for the kingdom as opposed to talking to people about Christ one-to-one.
But I had no confidence I was the person to do that writing. Every night, when I went to bed, I’d tell myself, You are a writer, you are a writer, you are a writer.
When I’d awaken in the morning, my first thought would be, I’m not a writer, I’m just not!
Well, the required amount of support came in; so I trudged off to Cru’s headquarters in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains. I received wonderful mentoring from everyone in the department, with the head of the department, Judy Douglass (now wife of Cru’s president who recently stepped aside to pursue other ministry within Cru), always affirming me. (Not that I ever hinted to Judy about my insecurities.) Every time I finished an assignment, I would wait several hours to turn it in because I figured this would be the project that convinced Judy I wasn’t suited to work in publications after all.
But she never intimated that my work was inferior. Instead, I kept getting assignments, and eventually I became more confident that maybe I could write.
Then, one day, as I was tapping out an article, I looked out my office’s window at the eucalyptus trees. But in that moment, I didn’t see the tree grove. Instead, I saw me as a little girl who yearned to achieve two goals: 1) to read all the books in the library (okay, that wasn’t going to happen); and 2) to be a writer. I read voraciously, and I wrote a novel every summer and set my sights on winning a Pulitzer Prize (okay that wasn’t going to happen).
The memory of my childhood longings swept through me, and I wept. I had become such a lost little lamb, I had forgotten what I loved in life–reading and writing. But God knew that he had instilled those loves in me, and he remained faithful to how he created me. He didn’t ruin my life the day I was handed that envelope with my assignment in it; instead he was unfurling for me a lifetime of working with words. That day, God didn’t bestow a curse on me; he bestowed a blessing.
Now, it’s your turn. Tell us about a time God affirmed your call to write and to work toward being published.
For Memorial Day, recount a special moment in your writing journey. Click to tweet.