Thursday, August 23, 2018

Honoring the Process

Today I (Laurie) have some encouragement for the faith-filled writer -- and the writer who doesn't feel very full of faith.

A little background for you in case we're not friends yet, I'm naturally the kind of person who measures her pursuits in items checked off the to-do list, achievement milestones, and--if we're honest--human affirmation. I like to know I'm doing a good job and that my hard work is meaningful. Or at least that it's leading somewhere.

But over the last few years, the Lord has been working in me to honor the process of writing. My first few years in the pursuit of publication were littered with contest wins, contracts signed, and manuscripts finished relatively quickly.

The last couple of years? Totally different.

I've alternated between hustling to manufacture inspiration and deleting hours of work in self-doubt. I've sabotaged my creativity by reading all the books, searching for some mirror or scale or rubric that will tell me:

Is my offering enough? 

Am I enough?

In January, I wrote about the creative wilderness and how surrendering one's art to the Lord is necessary. But I think it's just as important to honor it as a journey of creating with God, as Allen Arnold emphasizes in his book, The Story of WithWriting is an ongoing process that looks different every day. It should be guided by the Spirit, not the road markers of contracts, wordcounts, and trophies. It should be fueled by the sustenance that only nearness to the Father can provide, not by human accolades.

Not even by coffee.

That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with deadlines, plotting story arcs with the help of a craft book, or seeking feedback from trusted writers. It simply means we should invite the Lord into that process and leave room for Him to improvise.

When we treat our art as an act of worship and a living, breathing practice that's an extension of who God called us to be--who he created us to be--then success won't be measured by completed chapters. Satisfaction won't depend on shiny gold-foil stars in the corner of our paper or what others' successes look like.


I took a break from writing this post for a bit because my three-year-old Cubby asked me to watch him do a puzzle, and the Lord gave me a beautiful, real-time illustration. Here's what I found in it:

  • I stopped what I was doing because I was so happy my son invited me to do something he loves. It pleases the Lord when we invite Him into our lives, not that He isn't already there, but because we are intentionally aware of being in His presence. 
  • A few times along the way, Cubby paused, unsure where a piece would go. Most of the time, I resisted the urge to show him, even when he was frustrated. Figuring it out himself made him proud and confident in his next decisions. Even though our all-knowing Father can see the big picture, part of His goodness is letting us do the work of figuring out where the pieces go--in art and in life. We can be confident that He's watching us, will be there to guide us, but that we have everything we need to accomplish this work through the Spirit.
  • As my son worked on his puzzle, I wasn't focused on his performance but more on the fascinating way his mind works and the adorable way he sticks out his tongue when he's concentrating really hard. Nothing will make God love us more or less, because the Father's love doesn't depend on what we do but who He is. And His nature is love. 
Whether we're writing the next bestseller or a manuscript that will never see the light of day, the Lord delights in what we are doing because we are HIS. When we feel stuck or disheartened, we can remember our calling may be to point others to the Cross in our stories, but the process of creating is a life-giving, sacred privilege.


About the author - Current reasons Laurie Tomlinson may have burned dinner include: ogling her soccer playing engineer, chasing two small children, studying for a summer school final, or promoting her latest release, The Long Game, an inspirational rom-com featured in the Once Upon a Laugh novella collection. (On sale for 99 cents-YAY!)

She is also the author of With No Reservations, now available from Harlequin Heartwarming. You can connect with Laurie on her websiteFacebook page, and Instagram.


Karen Schravemade said...

This is absolutely beautiful, Laurie!! I think we are very much alike. I have been on a similar journey. Your illustration of doing the puzzle with your son was so perfectly stated and so full of meaning. Goodness - I have to go chew over those bullet points again! So much truth and life here. xo

Unknown said...

Thank you, Karen! It's definitely a journey, and it's not always easy when it doesn't make sense! <3

Unknown said...

Love it!

Laurie Tomlinson said...

Thank you, Patricia! <3