There’s an endless stream of voices out there. What makes mine any different?
I’ve gone back and forth in my mind contemplating if I should stick with this thing. You know, the whole writing thing. This is probably the fourth blog I’ve began. I scrapped the other ones. I just felt like none of them were good enough. Or at least, none of them measured up. What made my voice any different from the myriads of other writers out there? What was I offering that other people weren’t? Lessons about faith, life, relationships, Christianity? Join the club, bucko.
So what did I do? The only obvious thing to do, of course: I stopped writing.
I went rogue.
I checked out.
I felt like writing was suffocating me. No matter what I produced, it all felt pointless. I couldn’t get the voices out of my head.
“What makes you think your writing is special?”
“You’ll never be as good of a writer as he is.”
“This is a waste of your time. You’re not changing anything.”
“Just give up. You suck.”
I was drowning in my insecurities and I needed to get away. So I did.
Here’s what I learned about the voices in my time away: they don’t quit once you’re done writing. It’s because the issue wasn’t with my writing. The issue was with my heart.
I was writing for the wrong reasons. Like a little boy tugging on the shirts of his older brother’s friends, I wanted people to notice me. All I wanted was the validation and praise of other people.
One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, shares a story in his book Scary Close. It’s a book all about taking our masks off and discovering real intimacy by being our true selves. He talks about discovering in himself what he referred to as the “Entertainer Gene”. He noted that he always felt this pressure in groups of people to be funny and entertain other people, but deep down, it was just another way to earn validation, and in the end, it impeded his ability to truly connect with others.
I realized I’m the same way. When a joke doesn’t land, when a sentence doesn’t captivate, when my words aren’t received with approval, it wrecks me. When I write to entertain and captivate, I lose something more important: the ability to genuinely connect with someone.
In 1 John, the author says that “perfect love casts out fear.” Here’s what I learned from that passage: Fear stifles creativity. Love welcomes it.
I haven’t mastered this by any means, but this helped me pick the pen back up. When I stop writing for approval or validation and start writing out of love, I rediscover a passion within me that God gave me for enjoyment and self-expression; a gift for bringing good to others and glory to God.
In conclusion, I found that dealing with the voices meant accepting some of the truth behind the voices. Truthfully, my writing isn’t all that unique or special. There are a host of other writers out there who are far more talented than I am. And for crying out loud, I’m not going to change the world with my writing. That’s the truth and it’s OKAY. Because you know what else is as equally true? The unalterable fact that I am deeply loved, valued, and chosen by God. It’s in resting in that truth that I finally feel free.
Free from validation, and free to connect.
Free from comparison, and free to appreciate others.
Free from perfectionism, and free to be wrong.
Free from fear, and free to love.
Free to be all that I was made to be.
Positively, absolutely, unequivocally free.
Picture credit: Jarrell Jackson