I attended a writing conference in the Portland area on Saturday, hoping to glean as much as I could from those who went before me into the world of writing. Robin Jones Gunn and Cindy Hannan were the keynote speakers. Several critique groups and workshops for writers of all mediums were also offered: fiction, non-fiction, devotionals, memoirs, magazine writers, blog writers, etc. Some people had published, most had not.
I tell you, I was as nervous as a high school freshman entering her first day of school. I knew what to do -- by the time you get to high school, the school part is old hat! -- but unsure how to do it. I went by myself (very un-comfort-zone-ish of me!), I went unprepared (no business cards, no proposals, no idea what I was doing), but I went. Here is what I gleaned from my day:
From Robin Gunn
*STAY THE COURSE! No matter what God has put in front of you, don't try to go around the obstacle, instead stick to it and he will see you through to the end.
*TAKE A RISK! Give yourself back to God, make your work a living sacrifice to God. You are responsible for doing your (creative) best. God is in the details.
*SHOW UP! God is the Alpha and the Omega. He was, is and is to come. He is FOREVER. God does not show up. (Good point, Robin!) We show up to do his work. Do something that doesn't make sense. Stop comparing yourself to others. God has a plan for you.
From Cindy Hannan
Cindy co-authored Sisterchicks, Take Flight! with Robin Gunn.
*(from her personal prayer journal) "I did not call you to succeed, I called you to obey." Not everything we do is going to be for success. We may not even be recognized for what we do. God calls us to do it anyway.
*Say, "Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes! Yes, Lord!"
From Patricia Rushford
Patricia taught a workshop at the conference. She is a nurse, counselor, author and speaker.
*LET GOD LEAD.
*GOD CAN USE OUR EXPERIENCES TO HELP OTHERS.
*PURSUE THE CALL
*ONLY GOD IS THE PERFECT PARENT
The last one had nothing to do with writing, or purpose, or anything conference related. I wrote it down to remind myself that I am going to screw up, I am going to fail. God loves me anyway and he will not.
I went into the weekend with full expectations. I knew I would have a certain amount of hob-nobbing to do. I knew I would be asked about my work. I knew I would flounder and flail like fish, fresh out of the life-sustaining water it lives in.
I walked away from the conference over-whelmed with all that I still have to do. I started questioning myself, "Is this really what you were made for? Is this really what you want to do?" I started to answer "NO!" but then stopped and realized that I was saying no because I was too afraid to say "YES!" I don't like saying yes to something when I have no idea what I am doing.
Last week, as I was whining to a friend of mine about how grossly unprepared I was for this venture, she reminded me of Indiana Jones. In the third installment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is walking out of a tunnel and straight off a cliff! Oh, what is our hero to do? He can't jump, the chasm is too wide. He can't use his trusty bullwhip, there is nothing for it to attach to. What to do? WHAT TO DO?
That's all. Just a little leap of faith. Indiana Jones holds his father's diary (yes, I've seen the movie a few times) over his chest, closes his eyes, holds one foot out and...
...finds himself standing on solid ground! (WHOA!) There was a path there all along, he just didn't see it. Although, throw some sand on it, and -- look! There it is!
What is your chasm? What will you do today to take that leap of faith?