I want to write a book. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved reading and writing. My mom’s friend, Jill, used to review my papers and poetry. She’d tell me I had promise, and then critique everything I let her read thoroughly. She told me to keep on writing, that I could go somewhere.
For years now I’ve walked the line of ambition and fear. I eagerly subscribed to Poets and Writers, I submitted an essay to a contest through The Missouri Review, my college major was English Literature. But I also took long breaks from writing (years, here and there.) I wouldn’t attend a writer’s group. I wouldn’t keep writing and submitting if I didn’t get an acceptance and the last one was nearly ten years ago.
This year I stumbled across Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery. I’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables. When I first read the novels, I begged my Mom to tell me that “novel” meant “true story”. She wasn’t completely sure on the point, but thought it meant “fiction”. I refused to look the word up, desperate to keep my heroine really, truly alive. Emily is a more ambitious writer than Anne, and reading it inspired me to write more again. Even if most of it is rejected multiple times, keep writing. Even if I only ever write for myself, keep writing. Keep submitting. Keep trying. Don’t let the restless hours of fear win the battle against creativity and effort.
Today I got an email from a blogger I love asking if I’d submit a trial blog post for them. The sleeplessness of last night stopped mattering – I am halfway to an acceptance letter! My Anne-inspired imagination flew towards the opportunity: I pictured myself writing successful posts regularly for this blogger, becoming a loved contributor. And somehow, the taste of the success became a little empty in my mouth. I held the dream in my hand and realized it wasn’t enough.
Writing will never be enough. Success will never be enough. Being loved by people who will eventually forget me or find another favorite blogger will never be enough. I sat with my head back against the couch, turning over the shining blog post I planned to write, and slowly decided to do my morning devotions first. I moved into the sunlight at the table and flipped open to my soft ribbon bookmark in the gospel of John. Peter’s words from chapter six were underlined, and I read them, trying to find my spot on the page.
“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.'”
The words of eternal life aren’t “Please write for us!” or “Your post has been successful!” or even a book deal. The words of eternal life are Jesus’ words. Nothing related to writing is going to give me more than a temporary high and a sense of accomplishment. The Way of Jesus is not filled with senses of accomplishment on our part, but on his. He accomplishes his work in us; and that is what I truly want, that is what will truly satisfy and fill me.
I hope we keep coming back to this, friends. I hope even after this blog post is lost we keep coming back to the eternal life words of Jesus; the ones that won’t get lost, that’ll keep us from getting lost. Let us lean towards the words and the One who will satisfy.