Seems so much of a writer's life is spent waiting. We wait for clarity, for direction. Then we wait for feedback. We get rejections, so we change our stories. We study and grow in the craft. And then we wait to see if we're yet ready, hoping with baited breath that this will finally, finally be our time.
Can you relate?
Sometimes, in the midst of all that waiting, doubt begins to creep in. We don't always even know that's what's going on. Maybe it's one particular comment a contest judge made, or even a friend. Maybe those around you seem to be making leaps and bounds of progress in their writing journey, meanwhile, you're where you feel like you've always been... waiting.
It can be so hard to hear God's voice in what feels like silence. Have you ever searched, longing for direction, for even a whisper of clarity, and felt like God was hiding out?
Often, I think we shortchange the work of God in our lives. When something seems to be fizzling out, we're quick to get discouraged and leave that project or calling behind, instead of pushing through to the higher purpose God has for our lives. Or, if we do push through, we do so with heavy discouragement and hunched shoulders, filled with doubt and self-consciousness rather than standing strong.
This week, I was reading the story of God's promise to Abraham and Sarah. First, God tells Abraham (then Abram) that he's going to be the father of many nations and richly blessed. Abraham says God must mean He's going to make one of Abraham's servants an heir, to which God says, no--the heir is going to come from Abraham's own bloodline. Already, Abraham's insecurities begin to crop up. He has trouble stepping out in faith because he can't see past the obstacles he's constructed in his own perception.
Then Sarah comes up with a plan. She tells Abraham to have a child with her maidservant because she herself is too old to bear children (a situation which, by the way, God still redeems--meeting Hagar right at the point of her need).
You would think this would give God reason to go back on the deal. But instead, what does He say? He comes to Abraham years down the road--Abraham is now 99--and reaffirms He is going to establish an "everlasting covenant" with Abraham and his descendants. I don't know about you, but this story brings me peace that God does not forget the promises He has declared in our lives, even if we mess up along the way.
Later, three men--an image, I would say, of the trinity--appear before Abraham, and they ask him where his wife Sarah is. He tells them Sarah is inside the tent. This is what follows:
"Then the Lord said, 'I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.'
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was well past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, 'After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?'
Then the Lord said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.'
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, 'I did not laugh.'
But he said, 'Yes, you did laugh.'"
-- Genesis 18:10-15
How many times do we, like Sarah, struggle to believe the promises of the Lord in our lives? How many times do we go as far as laughing at them, then reminding God all the reasons we can't do what He says we will? Think of Moses, struggling with the idea of leading the people of Israel. This concept isn't a new one, even in Biblical times.
When we fail to believe in our ability to carry out the promise of God in our lives, we fail to step into our calling. Like Sarah, we shift our focus from the "could be" to the current obstacles we're facing.
Maybe your doubts are not stemming from feeling too old and dried up. Maybe it's just the opposite. Maybe, like Moses, you feel unqualified. Maybe you've received some harsh feedback that you've taken to heart, and now you doubt your ability to convey emotion on the page, to be vulnerable, to even hear the word of God in your life. Maybe tough circumstances have left you feeling emotionally paralyzed. Maybe you've grown so tired of getting rejections that you just feel like giving up.
I have news for you. Sarah was 90 when she had her first child.
God is a faithful and just God, who will fulfill the promises He has spoken over our lives.
It may take one day, or it may take a hundred years. But that makes no difference. God made a mighty nation out of Abraham's descendants, more numerous than the stars. He didn't give up on Sarah, even when she doubted His word. And He won't give up on you. Keep keeping on. One day, you're going to see the fulfillment of His promise--and just imagine what a glorious day that will be.
Do you struggle with doubt over being a writer? (Don't we all?!) When do you find this doubt hits the hardest? How do you keep it from entangling you and distracting you from your calling?
Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.