I’m a Writer

I'm a Writer

My old desktop computer, the one I bought with my own babysitting money and hauled away with me to college when I was naive enough to think I could be a writer, quit working.  My husband made a skull and crossbones picture and taped it to the monitor.

It was dead.

But it didn’t really matter because I hadn’t written a single thing in two years, except for grad school papers, and those didn’t count.

I felt like something had died inside of me too, but I couldn’t see any way around it so I shoved the words aside.

It’s just that I couldn’t do it, not well.  I couldn’t be an attentive wife and doting mother and token employee and perfect housekeeper and all the other things I thought I should be, and write.

So I gave it up, that writing thing, and I had told myself that writing was just a selfish dream anyway.

Because when I write, my husband eats peanut butter and jelly and my children run out of clean underwear.  When I write, I stare at the computer and forget to read bedtime stories and say “Uh-huh” to everything the kids ask, including, “Can we give the cat a haircut?” 

When I write, my family suffers.

And it all seemed so self-indulgent, to sit down and let the words flow out, to feed some kind of need I had to put pen to paper when all around me the needs of my family and my church and my community were so much greater.

So I patted babies and stirred dinner and felt all the while that I was doing the better thing, the sacrificial thing, by staying away from writing.  It was all terribly holy.

But mostly, it was just terrible.  

“So, you’re just going to quit writing?  Because it’s hard?”  my husband asked one day.

Yes, actually.  That was my plan.  He didn’t seem to understand how tortured I felt when I wasn’t writing, and how guilty I felt when I was.  He didn’t seem to remember the fact that when I wrote, I let the dishes pile up in the sink and forgot to buy milk.

“But Kristie,” he said, “you’re a writer.

That word pulled a plug in me and all the tears flowed out.   That was the name God gave me when my soul-clay was still damp and new.  He took a holy hand and wrote writer into me, and it has defined me ever since.

But I was a mother too, and a wife, and a child of God, and I felt so divided sometimes that the only thing I could think to do was give up the one thing that seemed negotiable, the one thing that seemed self-serving and selfish.

Because nothing felt so right in me like when I wrote, and that couldn’t be good.  It didn’t seem right that something should fulfill me that was not God, or my husband, or my children.  I could sniff out an idol as well as the next girl, and writing reeked of it.

If there was one thing I knew, it was that the road is narrow, and if I knew two things, it was that there are crosses to bear and flesh to deny, and anything that made me feel whole should be given up because broken is what we should be before God.

I learned that last bit in Sunday School, whether they taught it or not.   I learned it so well that I forgot the other parts about how every good and perfect gift comes from above, right from the same hand that formed me.   I forgot how God delights to see me use my gifts, almost as much as I delight to use them.

I forgot that crosses are for crucifying our flesh, not our beings.  Who I am and who I was made to be, well, that’s the part God wants to grow up into perfection.  That’s the part He wants me to multiply for His glory, not bury because I’m afraid and out of balance and I don’t like feeling like a poor excuse of a housekeeper when I write.

A few years later, my husband handed me a present.   It wasn’t even my birthday, and I felt strangely embarrassed at the surprise.  Inside the paper was a brand new laptop, bought with money my mother-in-law had collected from friends and relatives on both sides of our families.  “We want you to write,” the card said, over and over again in different words.  “We want you to write.”

Those were the same words my Father said to me when He gave me the gift and called me a writer.  Foolishly, I had tried to give back His gift.

I couldn’t refuse this one.

So I opened the lid to the laptop and wore the letters right off the keys with all the words that had been waiting.  I let the dishes pile up some days and learned to keep frozen pizzas in the house, just in case.  I still don’t understand balance and the kids can get me to say yes to anything when I’m typing out a story.  I just don’t mind it as much because it means something.

It means I’m a writer.

Kristen

Kristen is the main character in a story in which a redemptive God takes a reluctant mother on a journey to find and reclaim her story. Now the wife of an Army chaplain and mother of five, Kristen writes about the joy of being part of God's audacious plan.

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  • MISSINDEEDY

    I can relate to this to, Kristen. The imprint of writer on our souls clay wallets new Indiana, is perfect! Thank you for reminding us that even though the cat (or the dog, in this case) might not appreciate the haircut, We must heed the call. And that the occasional pizza won’t cause any lasting harm, as we purpose to use God’s gifting.

  • http://mandymianecki.com/ MANDY

    Tears. There is so much I love about what you’ve written here. From Sunday School to God’s stamp, to the writing/family balance, to your phenomenal husband…just such goodness. Thank you for this!

  • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ KIM HALL

    I am so glad your husband called you a writer to encourage you. What love I see there! Thank you for this encouraging reminder not to let fear or doubt or anything get in the way of using the gifts we’ve been given.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      He’s a gift to me!

  • http://ashliewrites.com/ ASHLIE

    oh wow. I so relate to this…every part of it. I often put writing to the side thinking I’m giving up some fleshly thing to serve my kids, hubby, home, etc when really, it’s possible I’m being disobedient to His call by NOT doing it. Hmmm. Thank you!!

  • http://www.natashametzler.com/ NATASHA METZLER

    Praise the Lord for people who look into our lives and call out the God-things in us. And may we all learn to continue that cycle and call out the things of God in those around us.

  • SHELLY MILLER

    This is so very good. My husband does this for me too. He bought me a laptop, a website, and when I mention writers conferences, he says yes, always, even when I feel guilty. Because he believes in me and the gift.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      That. is. awesome.

  • http://notquitearunner.blogspot.com/ AMY

    This made me cry. I struggle with these feelings too. I graduated with a B.A. in English-Creative Writing. All of my writing classes were in my final semester. After I graduated, I could never really bring myself to write anything else beyond in my journal. I wound up in one job after another not feeling very fulfilled. Last year, something big happened at my current job, and I thought I was going to lose my job. After hearing me sob uncontrollably about how afraid I was of losing my job and how much I hated it anyway and wanted out, my boyfriend John asked, “Amy, what do you really see yourself as? What do you see yourself doing?” I looked up from my laptop where I was trying to work on my resume and said, “Writing, being a writer.”

    I had never said those words outloud because I thought to be a writer it meant you had to publish something. But no, writing is what makes me come alive inside. When I get lost in my writing, I feel like I am drinking from the river that sustains me, doing what God made me to do. It’s when I’m not writing that I feel like I have no purpose and I’m miserable.

    And when I said this, he said, “Yes, that’s exactly how I see you too.”

    I’m still at the job I thought I was going to lose and still trying to find something more suited for me, but I’m writing. And I feel excited about my life and feel excited whenever I pull up my blog and have something to say. I feel like my passion is meeting my purpose and we’re walking hand-in-hand down this journey God has put me on. :)

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      Wow. It’s amazing to read your story and know that you get it. May God give you the desires of your heart and bring to fruition the gifts He’s planted in you. Maybe it won’t look the way you thought it did when you were in college, but my, when you write the way God made you to write, mountains move. Be brave about His business.

  • KATHARINE BARRETT

    Thank you. Just thank you. You will neverknow how much I neeed this today.

  • http://youaremygirls.com/ JENNIFER CAMP

    Oh, Kristen, your words bring light and hope. . . Yes, I am so blessed by your words, your writing, your gift poured out. Thank you.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      You are so gracious, Jennifer. It’s lovely to be writing here with you!

  • MAMAWEST777

    Every day. Every single day. So what I needed to hear. On today of all days. Thank you.

  • DIONNA

    What a blessing to have so much support from your family!

    Dionna Sanchez
    http://beautyinthestorm.com

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      They are wonderful. I think every artist struggles with seasons of doubt, and whenever I do, they are here to remind me why I do what I do.

  • TESSA

    This brought tears to my eyes. People have been telling me to write for years. My heart soars when I write. But as I sit here, 22 weeks pregnant with my 5th child, I just don’t know WHEN. When will the words come out again like they used to? When will my mind and heart focus long enough to write something coherent and something to build upon again? When?
    And so I’ve tried to get back into setting aside the time everyday to just write. Write whatever comes to mind…whatever is on my heart. Someday it will hit, that inspiration I’ve been waiting for.
    Thank you for your post. It gives me hope.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      What I didn’t write in this story is that I actually took another long break from writing. It wasn’t until my twins were a few years old that I found the time to write again. There is a season for all things, and a time for every purpose under heaven. During the little years, you might not be able to write as much or as often as you like. With five kids under the age of six, including twins, I didn’t even have time to journal. But God will bring it back. I wrote a post about it over at my blog. It’s allegorical, but I think you might understand it. The idea came from another verse in Ecclesiastes, which says “Cast your bread upon the waters, and in the day of trouble, it will come back to you.” I apply it to writing in this story:

      http://fiveintow.com/2012/10/25/like-bread-on-the-water/

  • http://www.suzielind.com/ SUZIE LIND

    Beautifully written Kristen. Personally, I don’t believe in balance. All those people in the Bible who were going about their Father’s business didn’t have lives marked by balance as our world tries to sell to us. It seems that if we can keep our eyes focused on Him and what He intends for us to do, everyone around us wins… even if it looks messier than how we think it’s supposed to look.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      Balance is a lie, isn’t it? I heard someone once compare life to sailing. Depending on the wind, the boat tilts one way, and then the other. Sometimes, the sails nearly touch the water. But that’s how the boat moves. If it was perfectly balanced, it would never get anywhere in the water. I want to be balanced like that, where my sails nearly touch the water because that’s the only way to move.

      • http://www.suzielind.com/ SUZIE LIND

        A perfect way to describe it!

  • http://www.jillmonaco.com/ JILL MONACO

    Kristen, I was brought to tears with the gift your family gave you – not the gift of the laptop but the gift of speaking your calling over you. They called out of you what God put in you. It is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. I needed it today.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      Thank you, Jill. I’m praying for you and your new ministry. May God richly bless all you do!

      • http://www.jillmonaco.com/ JILL MONACO

        Thank you!

  • http://lmbartelt.wordpress.com/ LISA BARTELT

    I have been on this cliff before, ready to jump off. But something dies in me when I’m not writing. Thank you for be the voice for the rest of us who have felt this way too.

  • TONYA

    This was so beautiful. And I heard God whisper you’re a writer while reading it. Thank you for this encouragement. And these words–> I forgot that crosses are for crucifying our flesh, not our beings. —> Well they just made my breath catch, truly.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      Thank you, Tonya. It is always incredible when God uses my words to speak to others. It is a joy to be a part of the Body.

  • http://weakestreed.wordpress.com/ RACHEL G.

    Ok, now I’m sobbing. God is so good to INSIST you do what He created you to do. And your friends and family for getting behind that mandate= awesome.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      Isn’t He good? I think of the prophets sometimes, and how hard it was for them to be the mouthpiece of God, and how He wouldn’t let them off the hook even when everyone was out to get them. I have it easy compared to that, but He is firm in His call nonetheless. “Get up, Kristen, and get back to work.” I hear that often when I feel like I have nothing left to write.

  • ALISON MCLENNAN

    Like so many others, I cried over this post. When you spoke of God embedding the word “writer” into your clay…oh, my. What a beautiful image, one that not only resonated with my writer’s heart but brought me a deeper appreciation and acceptance of His calling and the delight He takes in seeing us use the gifts He so lavishly gives. Thank you, Kristen. This post is one I’ll be pondering for a long time.

  • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

    Thank you, Amanda. I’m glad I write too. :)

  • http://bethmorey.blogspot.com/ BETH

    Wow. Wow. I love this. So much. Thank you.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      Thanks, Beth.

  • http://www.quietanthem.com/ RENEE RONIKA

    I feel like you could have been writing my story, too. Thank you.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      Isn’t it humbling and good to realize how many of us share the same story? Truly, we do not write alone.

  • http://www.domesticblissdiaries.com/ ALANA @ SPARROW + GRACE

    I could have written this… it sounds so much like my story. I have walked away from writing so many times, for various reasons: didn’t feel good enough, couldn’t figure out the balance, etc… Now, I recognize it for the gift that it is and try to figure out the balance thing as I go. Because, from what I can tell, no one’s figured it out yet… we’re all doing the best we can.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      I’m 6′ tall and about the most unbalanced person I know. Don’t stand next to me. ;)

  • http://www.servingjoyfully.com/ CRYSTAL

    I can relate to SOOOO much of this post! Thanks for sharing your heart, since it is that of so many of us mom-writers who are struggling to find our places. How awesome that your husband and family are so supportive of you. Sometimes, I think that my family would be more supportive and take me more seriously if I could be more bold about claiming the title myself.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      It’s hard, isn’t it, to call yourself a writer. There’s something sacred about that to those of us who truly ARE writers. I find that those of us who hesitate to call ourselves writers are usually the ones most worthy of it. Claim the name God gave you, find your place, and write boldly. It is His calling!

  • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

    Oh how I cried over this post. Thank you for speaking truth into the traps of misconception and fear we writers fall into. Thank you, thank you.

    • HTTP://WWW.FIVEINTOW.COM

      You are so welcome, Gretchen. Thank you for “getting it.”

  • http://wanderingintothewoods.wordpress.com/ JEANNIE EURICH

    This made me tear up. Yes, yes, yes. I so get this. The struggle for balance, between what I know I was created to be and at the same time, desiring to be present for my family. Oh, how what you wrote spoke to me. Thank you for writing. And yes, stocking frozen pizzas is essential. Along being okay with dirty dishes in the sink some days. :)

  • LARA SADOWSKI

    WOW. God spoke the words I needed to hear through you, Kristen! Time for my fingers to have some well-needed cardio exercise on my laptop!! <

  • AMYEPATTON72

    You read my heart. Thank you. Amy

  • AMI ADAMS

    Thank you for posting this. This is my heart completely. I find it hard to take the time away from my mom and wife duties to write….if I do, then I feel guilty. If I don’t, then I find myself irritated and kind of resentful that I’m doing all of these other things for them, but nothing for me. It is definitely a struggle to find the balance.