Writing Humbly – or Wishing To

Wordy Wednesday

I have a confession to make. Which is nothing new–I do that all the time over here. So, in keeping with tradition, I guess…

Sometimes? I like my own blogposts so much I read them over and over and over. Sometimes there will be a weekend like two weekends ago where my blog will get more hits in three days than it usually does in an entire month (okay–there’s only ever been one weekend like that, and probably it was because you were all snowed in and had nothing better to do), and I’ll look at the seven blogposts I wrote and think, “Yeah, that’s right. People are finally starting to realise just what a good writer I am!” Sometimes I’ll read a section of Favored One or Trees in the Pavement and be all, “Dang! I can write!

I know. Pretty obnoxious, isn’t it?

Also weird, given the last post about my abject childhood discomfort with praise and approval and people being proud of me. What happened?

So here’s something with which I’m wrestling. (Sorry–I’m about to get a little theological on a Wednesday, but I can’t help myself.) We’ve talked about this here before a little, maybe, and I’m afraid I’m coming from a very specific perspective on this issue, so if you don’t hold the same worldview I do, just bear with me. But here’s the thing. I believe God gives us our talents. As such, then, although He makes them a part of our individual selves, so we ourselves do, in fact, create things and design things and imagine things, for example, there’s at least a sense in which He still deserves the credit. Also, if God really does “love you and have a wonderful plan for your life” (which I believe but “do not think it means what [some people] think it means”), then it makes sense to believe that God gave us our individual talents for a reason, and that the reason has to do with the Kingdom of God–with furthering the reinstatement of God’s perfect rule on this rebel planet. It makes sense to think that God cares that we use our talents and how we use our talents. Again with the potential not-meaning-what-people-think-it-means, but still true.

So . . . regardless of the above-described moments of weakness I have, I don’t think I’m wrong that writing is one of my talents. For most of my life I’ve been sort of guiltily “hiding it in the ground” (we’re learning about the Parable of the Talents in Sunday school at Now Church, so maybe that has something to do with my musings lately, too), and every once in a while digging it up and looking at it and half-heartedly trying to do something with it, and then just tossing it back in the hole again. Every year, I go through a month or so where I tune in to the fact that I am, as They say, “squandering my talent.” Then I do NaNoWriMo or something and realise I don’t write well that way and go back to squandering. I feel like this dishonours the God who gave me the ability to write, but apparently I’m pretty tough to motivate.

So this year, although I am not writing a new novel, I’m genuinely working on getting Favored One published, and I have, as you can see, a much more organised and steady blogging schedule. Along with all that–I’m actually having fun! And I feel like I’m finally developing the gift God’s wanted me to use for a while. It’s just that, the more I work on it, the more opportunity there is for that obnoxious self-aggrandisement I described at the beginning of this post.

How do you work towards excellence in your craft, enjoy that craft, and yet maintain humility in the face of it? I realise asking this question creates that scenario where, as soon as you realise you’re humble, you’re not. But . . . I guess I’m sort of illogically hoping someone has some advice here.


12 thoughts on “Writing Humbly – or Wishing To

  1. Well, as they say we are all experts on our own opinion ;-), I don’t know about giving advice but perhaps entertaining a different meaning of the word humble is in order here.
    Humble: Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.(http://www.thefreedictionary.com/humble).
    I think a false humility is likely what we think of or even practice, mostly because we are so worried about appearances. Obviously if we are gloating and trying to take credit for it all as if God had no part, (which I don’t see you doing) this would be bad. I think we should be joyful and confident in the talents we have, and I think if we are coming from a place where we recognize that apart from God we can do nothing, and we shove both attitudes into a blender and hit puree for a while … we w ill be one delicious smoothee 🙂

    • Ha! Nice wrap up. 🙂

      Yes, I think you are right. I guess I just sometimes feel actual arrogance creeping in, and it’s hard to know how to stave that off without crawling back in the hole in the ground which, I agree with you, is not where to be either.

      • You remind me of Paul’s, ( not your Paul 😀 ) words,oh I hate the things I do that I shouldn’t and don’t do the things I should. Of course your Paul could be given permission to knock you off your pedestal, gently… should you try to climb upon it :-).

  2. Stumbling on your blog this morning seems a divine destination, since I have been battling the same thoughts. I desire greatly to write and publish, mainly because I have a strong desire to share the sweet love of Christ, and I want to encourage others to know Him. Yet, I struggle and find myself often paralyzed by fear and doubts. And, as you shared, at times, I think I just might be my biggest fan! Isn’t it silly?

    What God seems to be saying to me, very plainly, in this regard is: Apart from Him, I have no good thing! (Psalm 16:2) And apart from Him I can DO nothing. (John 15:5) I really can’t do anything without the Lord’s hand guiding me…not anything lasting, that is. He has called us to bear fruit that lasts (John 15:16) and we do this by using the gifts and talents He has given us. So we must rely on Him, fully, as we apply our gifts. And we must trust Him with everything we place on the “altar.”

    A quote from my own blog post of just yesterday seems to hold the answer to this struggle between self-adulation and condemnation: “The prods of God encourage, strengthen and motivate us, while the enemy’s prods serve to beat us down and incite us to paralysis.” Isn’t that the truth? We know that God can do mighty things in and through us, and the enemy works to either puff us up with pride, or beat us down with discouragement – in both cases, we become stifled. Let’s throw off everything that hinders, and run the race with perseverance! (Heb. 12) Thanks for sharing your heart! It’s always an encouragement to know we are not alone in our struggle! ❤ DeDe

    • That’s for sure!

      And you make a really excellent point that both the beat-down and the “puff up” make it tricky to move freely. I was thinking a little more about this this morning and contemplating how I think the point is maybe not to think of ourselves at all, but simply to pour into the work He’s given us.

      I’m glad you found my blog. I’m even gladder you commented. Please come again!

  3. God loves me and has a wondeful plan for my life??? Great! I love me and have a wonderful plan for my life too!!

    Seriously though, I think one way to maintain humility while using our gifts is to step back and look at the big picture. When my son shakes one of his toys he thinks he’s hot stuff, and since I’m his father I am proud to see him do that. But I wouldn’t trust him driving the car.

    I think that’s a little picture of how God sees us when we use our talents. He’s happy to see us use them, but He knows that in the grand scheme they’re not really that impressive, compared to stars and galaxies and keeping us from all killing each other.

    • Ha! Excellent point and perspective!

      The “God loves you” quote came from an Evangelical Christian leader in the 70’s or something–I wasn’t full-out, um, mocking it, exactly, but . . . maybe a little. Thus the quotation marks.

  4. Hi Jenn,

    there is of course the dynamics of low self esteem and pride, sneaking up on you when you were sure you couldn’t do it and then you read back and you see you can. So my advice is: work on your low self esteem and the pride will go away… 🙂 Easier said than done. I think you can write, too! It is just a fact. You are a writer. Whether you do it or not.
    I regularly am pleasantly surprised by my own writing. Because I forget that I can. But then, reading other people’s writing, I am quickly brought back to earth. Yes, I can. But, yes, there is a lot of place for growth.
    Instead of seeing your hidden talent as being hidden in the ground, I would prefer to see our talents as planted in the soil. Sometimes the plant or tree is in winter-rest and you don’t see anything happening. But, underneath the surface, experiences are had, things and words are germinating and unfolding, just waiting for spring to get out in the open.

    • There is that (the low self-esteem thing), although I think writing is not a place where I suffer from that very much. It’s true I can work on a story and decide it’s rubbish and then revisit it and realise it isn’t, but that doesn’t affect how I feel about the fact that I believe I’m a good writer. I just know that sometimes I don’t write my best (sometimes I revisit something and realise it was just as bad as I first thought it was! 🙂 ). And you’re right–there’s always room for growth.

      Planting a talent in the soil is great if that’s what has actually happened–if it’s growing. I feel like my writing is NOW, but I don’t believe it always has done.

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