The world is full of good advice for writers. Just ask Google, “How to start writing?” and you’ll get a host of interesting answers like become a reader, commit to a routine, use writing exercises, and find a community to support your efforts.
We’d all agree that this advice makes sense and would help us grow.
But what Google doesn’t say, is to figure out who you are in Christ first, because pursuing writing (or any other endeavor) is a battle for your identity. Knowing that might’ve helped set my expectations and spared me from believing some insidious lies when I was first starting. I don’t think I’m alone in listening to a barrage of lies that goes something like this…
- Who am I to add anything to the greater conversation?
- Why would anyone care what I have to say when there are more qualified and gifted voices out there?
- What if I put myself out there only to be vulnerable, not succeed, and receive criticism?
- Maybe it’s safer not to start than to do it and fail.
These lies are rooted in pride and fear of man. But the truth is that writing is hard and the process is often messy. Unlike the HGTV shows that show the ugly before, and then 30 minutes later reveal the beautiful after, the bulk of the transformation takes place when the cameras are off, and the process is slow and unglamorous. Writing is that uncomfortable middle part that’s not always fit for viewer consumption.
The uncomfortable middle
My writing process usually goes like this.
I have an idea I want to write about so I start reading and researching. Never one to sit too long, or plan out too far, I start writing probably way too soon. This usually results in pretty terrible first, second, and sometimes third drafts. It’s about this time I start to question why I’m doing this in the first place, whether or not I’ll ever finish, and why I voluntarily do this to myself. Sounds like fun, right?
But the strangest thing happens on the other side of the struggle. There’s this feeling of relief and satisfaction from completing a difficult task and overcoming the lies I was tempted to believe along the way. Not to mention it feels really good to build a body of work, make connections with people, and see yourself get better in the process. But my perfectionistic tendencies are often my worst enemy and make me fearful of failure and risk.
But the uncomfortable middle, which I’m usually eager to get on the other side of, is holy ground. Each time I write, I’m rehearsing truth, searching the Scriptures, and trying to figure out what I believe and why I believe it. Transformation takes place in my heart before it ever lands on the reader’s, and this is a good thing.
Overcoming lies with a changed focus
So if the rewards make the pain worth it in the end, how can we overcome the lies we believe about ourselves and our writing? Is it possible to avoid these struggles of constantly second-guessing ourselves, feeling unworthy, and fearful of what others think?
With this being my 100th post, I can honestly answer, “Yes!” but we must change our focus. Whether we receive good press or not-so-good, the temptation is to let the feedback we receive on our work shape us more than the gospel. The better question we should be asking is, “Who does God say that I am?”
There are lots of places to look in the Scripture for answers to that question, but one of my favorites is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
Our blessings in Christ
In chapter 1 there’s a sneaky little verse we can easily skim past. We’re eager to get through the salutation to the “good” stuff; which is all the blessing we have “in him.” (A phrase that’s repeated five times in verses 3-14.)
But if we go too fast, we might miss the all-important preamble to the glorious list that Paul lays out. He starts by saying,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”Ephesians 1:3
Did you catch that? Every spiritual blessing is ours if we are in Christ. We don’t always feel that way, but friend, this couldn’t be more true. If you’ve been believing lies about who you are, it’s time to soak up until we get pruney in these glorious gospel truths. Re-familiarize yourself with your blood-bought identity of being found “in Christ.”
Ephesians 1:3-14, says that those who are his are…
- Predestined (not randomly selected, but chosen by God) (4)
- Declared holy or sanctified (no longer defiled) (4)
- Declared blameless or justified (no longer condemned) (4)
- Predestined as adopted sons and daughters (no longer orphans) (5)
- Accepted in the beloved (no longer rejected) (6)
- Redeemed by his blood (no longer enslaved to sin) (7)
- Forgiven (no longer owing) (7)
- Knowing his will (no longer in darkness) (9)
- Inheritors (no longer out of the family, but heirs of his blessings) (11)
- Believers after hearing the word of truth (no longer doubting) (13)
- Saved by the gospel (no longer lost forever) (13)
- Sealed by the Holy Spirit (no longer insecure) (13)
Doesn’t it make you wonder why we succumb to the whispered lies of the enemy when the Lord shouts from the rooftops who we are and what blessings are ours?
These truths are nuclear. Don’t let their familiarity rob you of their explosive power. If every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places is ours, then what do we have to fear (Romans 8:31-39)? And if nothing can threaten our position in Christ, why not take a risk or two for the Kingdom of God? The more we meditate on truth, and the more gospel light that fills our minds, the less power the lies of the enemy have over us.
Writing is such a gift to both readers and writers. We know that words have the power to change lives, encourage weary hearts, and win souls. It’s no wonder the enemy hates it so much and wants to discourage us from sharing our words of hope.
So how do we respond to the truth of who we are in Christ in Ephesians 1:3? There’s probably a lot of good advice out there, but I think 19th-century pastor, Alexander Maclaren said it best: “God blesses us by gifts; we bless him by words.” How very applicable for all of us, especially the Christian writer!
We are #blessed. Keep calm and write on!
P.S. Be sure to check out last week’s post on writing Coram Deo (before the face of God).
P.P.S. Speaking of good writing advice…check out this short video and tell me below if this touches a nerve. Grab the free workbook while you’re at it.