I was a college freshman when my thinking began to change.
This college decision had been easy for me. I knew I wanted to attend a Christian school, and I wanted to study writing. The Professional Writing program at Taylor University seemed to be the perfect fit.
I walked into that space both certain and insecure–certain that I was meant to be there, that I was meant to be a writer and insecure about my talent compared to other students.
I remember my professor spending the first week telling us how hard it was to be a writer. I remember him telling us that most of us wouldn’t make it, that we had to have a certain kind of grit and perseverance and skill. Most people thought they could be writers, and most people failed.
My certainty wavered, my insecurities tipping the scales of my confidence, and I remember the moment I decided to pursue the things I knew would get published.
Marketers got published.
Ghost writers got published.
People who wrote other’s ideas and words got published.
At the time, I don’t think I realized what was happening to the dreamer inside. Reality, covered with layers of ice, extinguished the fire and the dreams and the hopes inside my head and heart and soul. I remember setting all that aside–my voice, my words, my writing–trading them for other people’s voices, other people’s words, other people’s writing.
Simply put, I believed that my voice didn’t hold as much value as theirs did.
It was the moment I began to lose my voice, my tone, and my confidence in the words the Father had given me to share with the world. It was the moment I began to take on another voice. It was a voice that sounded more professional, more publishable. And it sounded a lot like the other million voices fighting for a place on the bookshelves of Barnes and Noble.
Every once in awhile since this, my real voice has come out. It’s felt shaky but also empowered and valued and confident. It’s stood, knees wobbling, and said the things it most deeply believes. It’s sounded more like the Kate of my soul and less like the Kate of my mind–the logical Kate, the Kate that needs to pay the bills.
My world for the past two months has been about coaxing this Kate to come out from behind the shadows. It’s been about relearning who this Kate is, what this Kate sounds like. It’s been about rediscovering the dusty dreams that live in boxes in the depths of my soul. It’s been about breathing life to the voice God gave me, believing that it has value, purpose, and a place.
It’s been about believing that God called me to be a writer of my own stories.
I love people’s stories. They are beautiful because the Father is beautiful. I believe He is crafting incredible stories around us every single day. Some of these incredible stories are simply disguised as the everyday ordinary moments we walk past, like a tree that’s turning colors or a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. People’s stories are amazing, and they are worth telling. And as long as the Father gives me breath, I will help people tell their stories, own their stories, and value their stories.
But what I’m learning day by day is that my love of other’s stories has come at a cost. It has been a way to write, to still release some of the words the Father has given me, but it has been a way to write without vulnerability, without sharing my own story, without sharing my own heart and soul and voice with the world. It’s much easier to share words and take criticism over a piece that can be held at arms length. My own story is the very beat of my heart, and it’s terrifying to let others hear its echoes.
But the Father has given me a calling.
Over these last two months, He has reminded me that He gave me this calling years ago. I was in the third grade when He first began to give me words and a passion to write them on paper, to breathe life into them. I have floppy disks and usb drives and folders on my computer full of writing. Most pieces are littered with plot holes and grammatical errors, but this writing, these stories, they are beautiful. They are evidence of a calling that I’ve been too scared to live.
God has given me a calling, and it’s not for anyone else.
It’s for me.
I am a writer.
These days, I am learning to trust the Father’s voice and value my own. I’m learning to help tell other’s stories while also writing the words that the Father has given me about my own. I’m learning to dream again, to risk, to allow others to hear the very beat of my heart.
And I’m learning that I’m not alone.
We are a world full of people with dreams that sit in dusty boxes in the corner of our souls. We are a people who trade risks for safety, daring for security. We are a people who have taken on another voice that we’ve disguised as our own, too afraid to hear the sound of our own, the honest voice, the one full of vulnerability. Even in a world filled with so many shouting people, we hide behind layers of brick– the walls we’ve built up to keep authenticity at arms length.
And all the while, the Father stands in front of us, holding out a gift–the gift of being ourselves, of owning the very real and honest and scary dreams He planted deep within us so very long ago. It’s the gift of authenticity and vulnerability. He holds out His hands and dares us to risk, to dance, to speak, to sing, to dream, to write. He dares us to open up the boxes we’ve taped shut. He dares us to take just one step forward toward finding the voice that was always meant to be ours.
And so, day by day, I am learning what it means to dream with the Father, to risk with the Father, to take hold of the gift He holds out in His outstretched hand.
Because He made me to be a writer.