About one year ago, I had a creative wrestling under the surface, the kind that keeps you up at night. I didn’t feel as though I had an outlet for my voice to be heard, and I wasn’t actively cultivating the gifts that I had stirring within me.
I know that I have divinely been given a VOICE to help people experience the depth and breadth of their humanity and find God both within and beyond that depth and breadth. In the past, my voice has most often been used in worship leading, preaching, and counseling. However, over the last few years, I have rarely preached or counseled in an official capacity; and worship leading alone left me wanting more.
In the late sleepless hours of 2018, questions began to race through my mind, “Who am I that I should be heard? What gains have I made that would let people know they can trust me? What could I possibly offer the world?”. Yet something within me couldn’t cave to these assaulting doubts. Something within me begged to try.
Around this time, I remembered the consistent praises given by my teachers and professors through the years aimed at my writing. My freshmen geography teacher pulled me aside from class one day. Though I initially thought that I was in big trouble (which made no sense because I was the quiet good- two shoes type), he said that he had let his wife, a college English professor, read my papers. “Uh oh. Here it comes, I must be the worst writer of all time” I thought. On the contrary, he said my papers were the best of any student he had ever taught, and he wanted his wife to see a high school freshmen’s exceptional writing. I was stunned. However, I never did anything with that comment. I didn’t even tell my parents. I simply just kept trying to hide my way through high school.
Years later, my college Pastoral Care and Counseling professor also pulled me aside before one of our class sessions. Perhaps I should have seen what was coming since this was essentially a deja vu experience from my freshmen geography class; but I didn’t. “Jen, do you have a blog? Because you really should consider having a blog. Actually, you should consider writing as a career. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your papers, and I think you should do something more with this”. Again, I was stunned. I informed him that I absolutely did not have a blog, and I thanked him for his kind words. However, there no way was I about to start picking up writing, especially since I hated having to write papers in school. I didn’t tell him that part; I thought it might crush his assignment giving spirit and result in my flunking out of his class. Who knows? I may actually be a college graduate because I showed some restraint in that moment.
I had never considered writing as a way for my voice to be heard (or rather, read) until those sleepless nights one year ago. Somewhere between my doubts about what I had to offer and the flashbacks of student-teacher conversations popped the thought “what if I do have something to offer, and what if I wrote it down?”
I didn’t know if the affirmations from five, ten, fifteen years ago would still hold up. And to be honest, I don’t even know if I really am a good writer. One thing I do know: you never know until you try, and you never get better unless you practice.
So, 365 days ago, I started a blog, THIS blog. 365 days later, I’m thankful that I did. I’m also extremely thankful to all of those who have gone on this journey with me.
My advice to anyone who is wrestling with whether to go after a creative endeavor or questioning if you have what it takes to pull it off: just start and let yourself be shaped along the way.
I still wrestle. I wrestle with every one of my life endeavors, including this blog. I wrestle if preaching and counseling will ever be a regular part of my life again, if writing is something that I should pursue full time, if songwriting and recording are things that I should give more of my time to. I wonder where I’ll be in ten years and if I’ll “make it”. I question if the things that I try will ever be a “sure thing”.
Yet, what I have found is that the wrestling and wondering alone can keep you stuck; and “sure things” aren’t the northern stars to success. What matters is that you START, because you’ll find your footing along the way.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.