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photo: canva graphic: Martha G. Brady

photo: canva
graphic: Martha G. Brady

Today is the 8th in the series at Kate Motaung’s blog titled On Being a Writer by Anne Koeker and Charity Singleton Craig. The book is also available at the website. This is week fourShe has links to all this information and earlier posts on her site. Here are the links to my earlier posts: IdentifyArrangeSurroundNoticeWrite. Send, Promote.

“…The page is your mirror.

What happens inside you is reflected back.”

~Dani Shapiro

In so much of our writing, we discover ourselves. I wish I realized this earlier in my life. I would have been more careful to journal during important periods of my life.

No one told me how helpful writing is in finding out how you actually feel about a given topic or event. I had no idea until the last 10 years! Remember, I’m one who didn’t plan on becoming a writer. Somehow, writing seemed to be something I would do if I was going to be famous. It was something I hoped to do, but I didn’t want anyone to know about my dream.

I think I was happy to get to know anyone except myself… now that was scary!

I think I was anxious to get to know almost anybody except myself…and that wasn’t very healthy! In my late 20’s and early 30’s, I learned a lot of the fun things about myself. But the uncomfortable and painful? I wasn’t ready for it back then.

It took until my 40’s to get to the really painful stuff. I was dragged to that place kicking and screaming!  If it weren’t for chronic pain from a car accident, I never would have done it. But I finally got some help. I had no idea how much pain was lying beneath the surface, covered over by laughter and cheer.

Those were the emotions I was more comfortable with as a Christian female born in the 1940’s. How is that for a sad commentary on my Christian culture at the time? I felt responsible to present a happy face to the world as a Christian woman. Why? I have no idea. But it is the vibe I picked up along the way. I wasn’t alone and even today, there are women who pick up that vibe even if no one gives it off consciously.

I know, it sounds very narcissistic to think we need to get to know ourselves. But it is important to know what makes us tick. Of course, we can get carried away with navel gazing. There is definitely a balance. Back then, I was lopsided the wrong way. Here are a few of the things you should know.

  • Are you refreshed by people or do they wear you out?
  • What is your general personality type? Are you naturally inclined to be depressed? or are you more light-hearted? Don’t compare yourself to the person with a different personality who is more resilient than you are. It is self-defeating.
  • What are your spiritual gifts? Using up your energy volunteering for jobs that are outside your areas of gift will drain you way more than the others will. You can do the non-gifted jobs. Just realize they will use up way more energy!

It’s not that you proceed to live in a world of your own making that keeps everything the way you want it. It is that you are aware of the choices you make that are going to bring added stress and drain so you can plan for it and be aware. You won’t be making those kinds of commitments without awareness.

Knowing yourself opens your eyes to junk you had no idea was hiding beneath the surface of your heart!

The other problem with knowing yourself is when you find out the junk that is there. That was the first thing I learned as a child and teen. I had many voices telling me all the things that were wrong with me. Yes, I knew the information that Jesus could forgive me when I failed. But I felt like such a loser that it was very difficult to admit when I failed. I was so bowed down with how awful I was that I couldn’t look up to Jesus or anyone!

I realize now, it can’t be shocking when we find out that we truly are sinful…that our thoughts are impure…that we lie and gossip and do all manner of horrid things. That is our natural state. We can’t be shocked by it but we also can’t stay in that state.

Just like we don’t allow an infant to stay in a state of incontinence, but with time, we train them to use the bathroom, so we can’t sit in our mess and say, “Well, that’s just the way I am!” GOD is working to change our hearts away from their natural desires.

Being able to see places where GOD has given gifts that make me unique gave me hope that I wasn’t a total loser.  Seeing how He could use my words to give the gift of encouragement to someone was the beginning of hope that I could be useful to the Kingdom.

As I look back, I realize it had been happening for years. I just hadn’t seen it. It was the way GOD had wired me from the time I became His child at the age of 4! I loved to cheer people up and encourage. I loved to sing and memorize Scripture. Sadly, I was often surrounded by kill-joys! But it rarely dampened my spirit. I just plugged on!

Then the light came on!

My late 20’s were delightful! Why? Because, for the first time, I found out what my strengths were. I had been exercising these gifts for years, but this was the time I discovered what my strengths were as well as weakness (those I knew very well!) It was like a light came on. The Christian life became joyful for me. It started to make sense. Getting honest feedback from people who know you well is fantastic!

I was determined my children would not arrive at adulthood without being aware of both their strengths and weaknesses. It is a terrible handicap to walk into life without that knowledge!

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and a few other details, will prepare you for life like little else can

If you are worn out by people and life has been chaotic. You know you need replenishing time. No, you aren’t justified for behaving badly. But having that insight can help you realize that taking a time-out might be a good idea for you, and soon, for the sake of those you love.

The same goes for the extrovert who needs to get out of the house and be with friends. If her husband is wise, he will encourage her to get out and he will watch the kids to make it happen! Yes, you will still need to treat your family kindly in the meantime. But you will have a clue why you are struggling.

How does this play out online?

As you write, you come to know more of yourself and understand more of where you fit. This year, I have dropped off a couple of forums that I don’t feel I fit in anymore. I did once, I think. But the forums grew in one direction and I grew in another. It was particularly vivid on one of them. I really like the owner of the blog. I just don’t fit anymore. It was time to move on.

We discover and grow. Sometimes we have to leave places we once lived even though we love the people still. Blogland is sad that way, isn’t it? I suspect the writing world is sad that way too!

I’ll just have to keep on discovering how to write, who my audience is and who GOD made me to be in this setting!

**These last 2 posts have been very difficult! I have tried to cut them back, then I think of more that needs to be said. I’m not certain why they have been so difficult but I’m thinking it over. It may be that all the topics so far are just adding up and the totality is getting more complex!