“So I wrote a novel.”

Those were the exact words I used to tell my friends what I had done…way after the fact. Two dear friends found out a few months after it was finished, but the rest—and I mean all the rest—found out years later. The people my children call aunt and uncle, even though we’re not technically related. The people who call me out on my garbage.  The people who are first and second in line to get my kids if my husband and I perish together on a plane heading back from Hawaii. {Not a bad way to go, eh?} The people who are welcome in my house when the floors are long overdue for a good mopping. Those people. I didn’t tell them.

I felt wasteful writing, decadent even. Sitting and pulling out my laptop was a poor use of time, and rarely a day passed when I did it and felt like I wasn’t involved in some mortal sin. For how I felt I might as well have been having an affair with that Word document. Lies pressed in on every side: I’m not a writer and who would even want to read anything I’ve written? How can you justify doing this when there are dishes in the sink? Who do you think you are? Shame, shame, shame.

I’ve seen some pieces on writing now that make me realize I’m not the only one. Writers do three very charming things:

  1. They have this penchant for self-loathing and assigning a worth of precisely negative elevendy-zillion to what they’re doing.
  2. They have a knack for opening the back door for Satan to come right on in and set up camp.
  3. They often break out in hives when people ask them what they do and they find themselves saying “I write.”

I get that. I get it all. 

Where’s it coming from

Jesus himself said about Satan “he was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” {John 8:44} Satan did his Satan-thing and I listened. I paid attention. I sat up straight for the one who relishes in the killing of dreams, desires, and any activity that brings life, beauty, or rest.

Wow, I just did the math of lost years and it is way worse than I realized. I finished the novel in 2011 and I didn’t tell my family {beyond my husband} or circle of friends until 2015. Four years. I thought it was only a couple…four counts as a few. That’s a four-year degree in shame. And if you count the almost three years writing it and not telling anyone, well, now we’re approaching a decade. Even now I sit and wonder at how this happened. I am a part of a wonderfully authentic church. I have supportive, loving, and engaging friendships. I have a husband who practically {and sometimes literally} shouted “TELL SOMEONE” at every turn. And I couldn’t—I was gripped by the father of lies.

All in

That novel is bad, really bad. Sappy, cheesy, lame, worse than a Hallmark movie…and it still makes me grin ear to ear every time I pick it up. It’s a written expression of God’s delight in me. I felt a specific connection to my Creator God while writing it. I wrote my way through some things that I had never been able to adequately express to others, or to work out in myself. And it taught me exactly what writer’s catharsis means, but I probably won’t be able to use words to explain it if you ask—just a lot of weird hand motions and maybe some tap dancing.

I said, “So I wrote a novel” and it was a literal lifting of weight.

It’s made me wonder—creatives can’t be the only ones who battle the self-loathing at wanting to spend time/energy/money/effort at the very thing that gives them great life and communion with the Father. There must be others who experience tremendous shame right at the point of their greatest gifting—gifting given to them by a loving God who longs to see it used for his glory and their good. Leaders? Nurturers? Can I ask if you’ve been there? Are you there? Run to Jesus. Graduate from the college of shame and “TELL SOMEONE!” Ask for your friends to draw their arrows and stand at your back. God-given gifts beat back the darkness, especially when all attribution is given to the One True King. Believer, step out of the shadows in courage, because we really have nothing to fear: we know who wins this war.