How a scared, non-writer found connection in writing

Writing.

Just the word alone causes me to sweat and my heart to race.  When we moved to eastern DRC almost seven years ago, I really had no idea that we would live there for 4 ½ years.  I had never lived overseas before. After we arrived I found life both harder and easier than I expected.  Not only had the location of my life just drastically changed, but also so had my occupation.  For the first time in my adult life I wasn’t working for paid employment; I was home watching our 8 week-old daughter.

I didn’t expect the acute loneliness I experienced.  I also didn’t expect that I would have so much inside of me that was bursting to be freed.  All of a sudden I was spending large quantities of time sitting in a rocking chair nursing my fussy baby and looking out of our living room windows. I was spending a lot of time walking my baby around our yard or taking walks down dusty (or muddy) streets. Given I was no longer working and we had house staff that were doing the chores I normally would have been doing, I had a lot of time on my own.  My life had just changed so drastically. Instead of close women friends to talk with on a daily basis and a stimulating job, I was spending long quiet days in Congo with my baby (who I loved desperately, but who couldn’t really carry on conversation very well).

I read a lot of books.  Because we lived in an old guesthouse there was a set of tall bookshelves in our living room that had been collecting books over years and years.   One day I might have found myself reading Elisabeth Elliot’s “Through Gates of Splendor” another day I read “Cold Sassy Tree.”  I would read, I would rock, and I would think, as I nursed my baby.  My husband would come home and tell me about his work, I would listen to the stories of the other cross cultural workers we shared our home with who had lived through extraordinary times in eastern DRC over the past 27 years.  And eventually, I began to experience my own stories.

Despite my fear of writing (which has it’s roots in insecurity around grammar, spelling and all things related to punctuation), I actually loved to write as long as the writing wasn’t for public eyes.   I had never read a blog when I decided that I wanted to start one for my family and friends.  I found I had a lot I was desperate to share with someone.  I needed someone to hear me, to listen to this new and confusing life I was experiencing.  I needed to write to lessen the isolation I was feeling.  I needed to connect.

So, I started writing on a blog.  I kept it password protected.  And a small number of friends and family read it sporadically and I found I liked writing on-line.  I liked that someone was hearing me and responding.  I found I wasn’t worrying about sentence structure and in writing I found joy.

Then came the day when I felt like I had something I wanted to share.  I felt compelled to share.  I felt like God was telling me that I had to write publicly even when I was afraid.  That what He was teaching me was something that was more important than my own insecurities.  His promise to me was that He was with me, no matter how my words were accepted.  I felt like He was telling me that it wasn’t about me, but that in all my life, it was (and is) about Him.  And that through writing He would be revealed and I could wrestle with and through the deep questions and struggles I faced as we lived more and more years in DRC.

And those words have remained true.  I still love writing.  I still am terrified after every time I push “publish” on my small blog.  I still sometimes ask friends to read my posts before I post them.  I don’t know if I have lost any of the insecurity about publicly writing.  I would love to improve my confidence in the areas of grammar, punctuation, spelling and content.  But until then, I will keep writing.  I have gained so much more than I ever imagined the day I took the password off of my blog.  Most of all, I have gained the assurance that not only is God with me every single moment of each of my days, but that I am not alone in this life of overseas living.   That there are women around the world that understands.  I am not alone and neither are you.

What helps you connect to others?

3 Comments

  1. Danielle Wheeler February 5, 2014

    From all of us who have been terrified to push the “publish” button, I stand and applaud your bravery!

    Yes, that’s really what writing is, revealing Him and finding those who understand.  Thank you for sharing!

  2. Jennifer February 5, 2014

    Thank you for having the courage to hit publish. I am slowly coming to recognize that it is actually a priceless gift that we give to others when we do have the courage to hit publish on things where were have actually shared our heart, where we really are at. This really does help others, maybe more than just simple words encouraging them to do it can, to gain the courage to do it also. That is when we truly do begin to realize, as we are beginning to see here at Velvet Ashes, that we truly are not alone in our unique and challenging journeys wherever in this world God has placed us for this time.

  3. Ashley Felder February 15, 2014

    Oh girl, am I with you on the scared to death to write feeling! I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. Never. Still don’t. I remember during high school just writing the papers how the teachers wanted them. Factual. Nothing creative. Just get it done and over with. I don’t remember writing creative papers…either I truly didn’t, or it was so painful to do, I blocked it from memory!

    Anyway, when Danielle asked me to write for VA’s food posts, I about peed my pants from both shock and fear. Write? Like, I have to write something besides the recipe I use? Sheesh. It sounded terrifying. Then she encouraged me by telling me to stop comparing myself to every other blog writer out there. If I have my own, different way of writing, so be it. And I do. Apparently I write just like I speak. (I didn’t know there was any other way!) Recently a few people have told me this and are giving it as a compliment. It’s still hard to come up with the “story” part every time, but I’m thankful for the stretching opportunity. Glad you’re being stretched, too!!

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