"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Dangerous Life of a Writer

Being a writer can be dangerous, at least for those of us who don't have jobs outside the house. With both my sons in school for a full day, I couldn't wait to spend endless hours holing myself up inside the house with my computer and my characters. I wouldn't let anything distract me. I'd live in my own little fantasy world where I could take delight in playing God, creating stories. Or so I thought...

The thing about being a writer is that no matter how much of an introvert you are, there comes a time when you need to live in the real world. For the sake of our own stories, and for the sake of our writing. How can we write believable characters into a world which we don't experience ourselves?

This was hard for me. I planned to venture out only for groceries and Bible study while my kids were at school. I like being alone. I didn't think I needed other people. A notice came home from school asking for parents to volunteer an hour or two a week at the school library. I signed up every other week for each of my sons' classes. Nothing so hard about being with like-minded mothers who love their children, right?

So there. I'd do my good deed for the week and still have plenty of time left over to write. Especially Tuesdays. They're practically sacred. No laundry, housework, groceries, Bible study...zilch. Just my morning run and then me and my computer for six glorious hours. Or so I thought....

I mentioned in my last post that I'm reading Donald Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years." Miller delves into the idea of living a better story, one that will satisfy not only ourselves, but God. As I read this book I felt God nudging me to do more. Now I'm not saying God is looking for works, I don't believe He is. But I do believe He's looking at my heart. As I read Miller's book, a strange thing happened. I found myself wanting to do more with the majority of my week than sit in front of my computer. Sure, God may have called me to write, but hasn't He also called me to serve? To live a more meaningful story?

I thought of a soup kitchen I bring food to every so often. A hot, windowless basement/kitchen that serves hundreds of meals a day. Now, besides being slightly claustrophobic, I hate sweating. I can usually only stand this bodily function when I'm running outdoors and a refreshing shower waits for me within forty minutes of said sweating. I'm a bit of a germaphobe--don't care to be around even my husband when he hasn't taken a shower within the past twenty hours. I know I sound awful, but I'm trying to portray how difficult the idea of volunteering at a soup kitchen was for me. Quite likely, I'd have to rub elbows with sweaty people, many who may not have seen a shower in a week.

But once again, I felt God nudging me, changing my heart. Did Jesus care about such petty things when He came to save us? Did He only hang out with people who thought just like Him, agreed with everything He said? And what does all this say about my own heart? I didn't want to look much closer.

I called the soup kitchen and spoke to a pleasant-sounding woman who informed me that they couldn't use me on Mondays. But Tuesdays...well, they really needed someone then.

Huh. Of course, it would be Tuesdays. I told her I'd think about it, which I did (along with a good dose of prayer). I rearranged my schedule and called her back the next day, committing four hours on Tuesday.

This may be out of my comfort zone. I don't know how I'll do. But I know that more than anything else, I want to live my life for God. I want to live a meaningful story, experience more than my own small world. This is one way to do that.

So tomorrow I will venture into the city, into that small, stuffy, windowless basement. I will put aside myself. I will think of others. And I will try, with all my heart, to be Jesus to every single person I meet. Because truly, that is the only meaningful story I will ever live.

What have you done that was outside your comfort zone? What were the results?


  1. Heidi,

    First happy 30th! I hope you had a very fun day, and I hope you got my card.

    And I love your heart! So true how we need to live in the real world to write more meaningful stories.

    Missed you so much at conference. Hope we can see each other soon. :)

    Have a great week, friend!

  2. Thanks for the post. Outside my comfort zone? Volunteering at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I asked for a job behind the scenes three years ago, and I'm still working in the membership department in the basement. But I was attracted to another position, working in the biology lab for a new exhibit, and started working a second assignment. That led to participating in a research project that required interaction with visitors (filling out a questionnaire, painting their tongue blue, etc.). I loved it.

    As for staying at home and writing, it hasn't been quite what I expected. But my biology lab work became research for the novel I'm writing. That's God.