to be brave with your art.

WMHR-1It is probably the goal of most writers to get their words in front of other human beings. Writers want their writing to be read, right? (Say that three times fast.) When I first started writing for an audience of zero, it was liberating. I had thoughts and I wrote them down and I hit publish and I questioned nothing. No regrets, no doubt, no worrying, no panic. Just think, type, publish, repeat. Think, type, publish, repeat.

Everything was simple.

Over time, my audience grew to three, and then four, and then five. And then maybe twelve. And then more. I stopped counting. I have no idea how many people are reading this now. I can look up how many people click on this page, sure, but I have no idea how many people are actually reading this. There is a difference. A big difference.

Something weird happens when you start writing for more people. You become acutely aware of what you are saying. You analyze your sentences more often. You write with an open thesaurus because you want to make sure the words you use are the words you actually mean to say. You second guess some of the words, and some of the sentences. You delete this, delete that. Re-write that thing, re-write this thing. I am learning to be a better editor, and I think that is good for me and good for my writing.

But then a tiny wave of panic rolls in, and you start to write something else.

You start writing negative comments in your head, filling in the blanks as you go.

If I say this, they'll say ____________. If I say that, they'll assume___________. If I say this, they'll think_________.

And so on and so forth.

It's....crippling. Pretty soon you've written enough one-star reviews to fill up an entire online gossip forum, all based on what? Fear? Doubt? Your own multiplying insecurities?

I've recently come to terms with something: I am never going to be a good writer if I write safe. And truth be told: I write safely a lot.

The bigger the audience grows, the safer the stories I tell. I'm going backwards, I can feel it in my bones. God keeps giving me more and more, and I keep telling less and less. I'm writing small instead of big; scared instead of brave.

Enough of that.

I'm writing this today in case you also find yourself going backwards instead of forwards. In case you also find yourself creating art from a place of fear and doubt instead of courage and confidence. Let's not waste another day crippled by our own insecurities. Let's take the talent God has placed in our hands and be good stewards of those gifts. Let's write the truth and use all the paint colors and sing every note and dance with our whole bodies.

Let's be brave with our art. Let's start today.

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"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." - 1 Peter 4:10

be brave.

"I don’t want my kids safe and comfortable. I want them BRAVE. I don’t want to teach them to see danger under every rock, avoiding anything hard or not guaranteed or risky. They are going to encounter a very broken world soon, and if they aren’t prepared to wade into difficult territory and contend for the kingdom against obstacles and tragedies and hardships, they are going to be terrible disciples.  I don’t want to be the reason my kids choose safety over courage. I hope I never hear them say, “Mom will freak out,” or “My parents will never agree to this.” May my fear not bind their purpose here. Scared moms raise scared kids. Brave moms raise brave kids. Real disciples raise real disciples." -- Jen Hatmaker

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Dear Everett,

Sometimes in life, God will talk to you. He does this in different ways at different times, and while I can't really explain in words what it feels or sounds like, you will know when it happens. Your heart will stir a little, and then a lot. You'll feel a nudge to do something. It might be something small or something big, but it will for sure be something.

He might tell you to stand up for someone, or to defend a kid on the playground. He might tell you to invite someone to eat lunch with you, or to buy groceries for a homeless man on the street. He might tell you to pray for a friend out of the blue, or to make a Big Move with your life, to go somewhere far away and help someone in need.

You might not hear words, but you'll know when He is talking. The Holy Spirit can be quiet sometimes, and loud other times. You'll feel it in the depths of your soul, in the innermost workings of your heart. You will feel conviction and confidence and peace in these things, these directions.

And I want you to know Ev, that when you hear God talking to you like that, it's best to listen. You don't need to be afraid, even if what He is calling you to do sounds scary.

You are not my child, Everett. You are God's child. I am just your keeper on earth for a time. He is the one watching over you every second of every day, a task I certainly cannot fulfill. I'm only human, but our God is a big God.

I want you to be a lot of things, Ev. I want you to grow up to be faithful and kind and generous and honest and compassionate. And perhaps even more than those things, I want you to be brave, Ev. I want you to be strong in your faith. I want you to take risks, chase your dreams, and most importantly, follow God's guidance when He speaks to you.

Even when these things seem impossible and hard and scary and difficult, I want you to hold on to your faith and be brave.

Don't let anyone tell you that it cannot be done. Anything you do in the name of Jesus for the glory of God can be done.

You are my son, Ev, but first and foremost, you are God's son. Nothing will ever change that. Listen to Him with open ears and an open heart; I know He has big things in store for you, just like He has big things in store for me.

As Jen Hatmaker says, brave moms raise brave kids. I'm working on my part, and someday, when you're a little bigger, I know you'll work on yours too.

Let's be brave together.

If God is for us, who can be against us? - Romans 8:31

Love, Momma