people write because we can’t not write. Some write
to rant. Some write because they like to hear their own voices on the
page. Some write because they feel it a mandate from God. Some write
because they have valuable information to share that will help improve
others’ lives. Some need to make an income. Some use it as therapy, to
straighten out their heads.
Some write because they can
articulate so well. Some write to ignite whimsy in others. Some write
because they want to feel a part of this world, to engage and be
engaged. Some write because of loneliness.
I write for, well, a mixture of
reasons. I love to tell stories. I love to tell the truth, the kind of
set-folks-free truth that Jesus shared. I want folks to pick up a book
of mine or an article and be changed after reading it. To have their
perception of God or life or love or forgiveness altered. I want my
words to have tilth to them, strength—the kind of words born out of
adversity and angst. I am a better writer when I delve into parts of my
soul I’m afraid to share.
But that seems to be God’s path
for me, to write about hard things like racism and sexual abuse and
difficult relationships and Pharisaism.
So, with that as the backdrop,
imagine how this e-mail affected my soul, how it fed me like fine, dark
“I don’t know where to begin.
The words are pulsing through my heart like tiny pieces to a puzzle
that are difficult to put together . . . but I will try. [Name of
Author] introduced me to your book Watching the Tree Limbs.
I purchased a copy this afternoon and just finished reading it a few
moments ago. It had a profound impact on me. I wasn’t past the first
page when the tears began to flow down my face: ‘My childhood flickers
in front of me like a black-and-white movie. Used to be I couldn’t
watch more than five minutes of it, as the popcorn dropped kernel by
kernel onto my tear-soaked lap. The weight of my story made me shut my
eyes and clamp my hands over my ears until the memories faded in gray
silence. But Jesus stayed with me, holding my hand while the images
assaulted me . . .’ I was compelled to read on. As I met Mara, I
couldn’t shake the feeling that I was looking in a mirror. I relived
all of the emotions of having been through much of what Mara
experienced. But I also lived through so much of her—my—healing. I
thank God for giving you the courage to write what no one else has
written. I thank God that He continues to hold your hand in the midst
of it all. And I thank
my hand in the midst of it
all. That’s how I view this novel: God’s hand reaching down and
touching a broken, shaken child. Somehow I’m a little less frightened
of taking that Hand now. Thanks for that. Thanks for Mara. Thanks for
why I write.
When I get e-mails like this, I
wonder if I wrote that book for an audience of one, to shed light
through my feeble prose. And then I remember the Audience of One I am
really writing for—for God’s eyes, for His glory, for His fame.
I don’t make a living off my
writing. Perhaps someday. I don’t know if I’ll be famous. Probably not.
I am getting used to being treated like a mildly interesting nobody in
this business, and to be honest, it’s good for my soul. It reminds me
to take the last seat, not the seat of honor. In the last seat, Jesus
can bring us closer to the seat of honor anyway, and I’d rather have
His promotion than the promotion and wow factor of Important People
whom I make money for.
So, yeah, I wrote that book for
this gal. And for Jesus. And I’m happy about that. So very happy.
Because writing is what God has called me to do, and it pleases me to
no end that He allows me to savor a bit of fruit along the way.