When I began writing fiction, I had no idea of all the things I still had to learn. When God put a story idea on my heart a number of years ago, I had this naive idea that I could write and publish a book within a year. Me. The one who hadn’t even published an article with a magazine. Or a blog. Or anything else.
All I knew is I loved reading, and I’d had this secret desire to write a book since I was thirteen. But I knew I could never succeed in such an endeavor. Not me. The less-than girl. The one who was so sensitive her heart bore scars from the bullying in her elementary days. But, decades later, when this crazy idea for a story wrote itself upon my heart, I knew it was time to pull out my brave and give this a try.
How Humility & Healing Transform Our Writing: with Fiction Writer, Jeanne Takenaka
I wrote. And erased. And wrote. And erased again. I couldn’t get past chapter six. Until some people came alongside me and showed me that yes, I could not only write chapter seven but the rest of the rough draft, as well. I learned much about depending on God in the process. I wrote three rough drafts of full-length novels before I began getting some attention.
And then I won a contest.
And I admit it. A little arrogance took root in my heart. I knew it. But I didn’t know how to stop it. An agent expressed interest in my story. I worked late nights and early mornings to edit and prepare it to send to the agent. The night I pressed “Send” I was both giddy with excitement and shaking at what I’d just done. I’d put my work out there. For a professional to see.
What if she didn’t like it?
What if she totally eviscerated my story? Me?
And I waited. I think those weeks of waiting where among the hardest ever. EVER.
And then the letter came.
A very nice letter.
A sincerely kind, encouraging rejection letter. And I reeled. And I may have ranted. Just a little. And I experienced the humbling that needed to happen. But the thing was? She was right. As the letter’s words settled into my spirit and my emotions calmed, I re-read the suggestions shared about how I could improve the story (and this is a rare thing to receive!). I saw those words for the gift they were.
I talked with a writing mentor and asked for help. The first time I chatted with her, God revealed things to her about me that I had never shared with her. And I knew I was embarking on a completely different journey. Not just a journey of making my story better. But something deeper and much more personal.
My story lacked a depth of emotion. Because my characters could only go as deep emotionally as I myself was willing to go. – Tweet this.
Sounds crazy, I know. But here’s the thing.
That bullying I mentioned? Yeah, that taught me to embrace some whoppers of lies about my emotions. All in the name of avoiding being hurt by others. It also stole from me the freedom that comes in being real, genuine.
I spent a lot of time that year praying about this area I’d closed off from God and everyone else. God knocked on that door with my mentor’s words, and it was my choice to open it. Or not. If I didn’t, I would remain an observer in relationships and not an engager with people. I would stay on the safe outer rim of the friendship circles.
Not being hurt, but not finding intimacy, either.
I had to choose to trust God to walk me through the dark valleys of pain and into forgiveness. It was only as I forgave those who had hurt the younger me that I could find healing from the wounds inflicted. And I guess this is my message: Until we can trust God to walk with us through the pain in our pasts, we can’t engage fully in the present.
We can’t write, or draw, or take photographs, or create anything fully.
Because we can only enter into creating with God as much as we are willing to trust Him.
We will only find healing for as many of our hurts as we are willing to entrust to our loving Father.
The amazing thing is this . . . when we choose to trust Him to walk us through the healing process, that’s when we discover freedom. Depth. Joy.
I’m still writing. No, I haven’t been published. Yet.
But the rough draft I completed this summer is my best yet. I faced my pain and I wrote my characters from those deep places in my heart. I poured emotion into their stories . . . and I found more freedom in the writing. I’m not giving up on this calling because Jesus is still teaching me how to lean into Him. How to find His healing and His truth. And how to grow in this calling He’s gifted me with.
Past pain can cripple us or teach us to lean into our Lord. Which will you choose?
What about you? What have you learned from the pain in your past? What helps you trust God each day?
Award-winning aspiring novelist, Jeanne Takenaka, writes contemporary inspirational fiction that tackles real-life issues with a heart to draw women closer to God and those around them. She lives near the mountains in Colorado with her amazing husband and two exuberant boy-men. She loves being God’s girl—always learning about His grace, hanging out with friends and enjoying a great cup of coffee. When she’s not writing you can find her with a camera in her hand, looking for #alittlebitofpretty in her days. You can connect with her on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter. Read more on her blog: https://jeannetakenaka.wordpress.com/
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