I remember when I was a little girl, not so many years ago, my parents had an office that I would often be found in. I couldn’t have been more than 9 years of age. Back then, we didn’t have game consoles and systems, instead we relied on good old-fashioned computer games as our form of entertainment. One day, my mom asked me, ‘If you could pick a toy or a game, what would you like?’ I said to my mom in return, ‘I would like the program, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing.’ To most reading this, it is a highly unlikely idea that any child would ask for such a program, but I was more than serious about improving my typing accuracy.
I would go on to improve my typing accuracy at a young age and would begin to write short stories after school. My mother was a working mom and did not have the advantages of being home when I got off the school bus. Therefore, I spent much of my afternoons at an after-school program at my elementary school. The care-givers would provide all of us children with snack and then we were given the option of doing our homework, playing in the gym or playground, doing crafts, or going down to the computer lab. Wouldn’t you know, but, 9/10 times, I was found in the computer lab working on my latest descriptive story. I had quite the vivid imagination and my teachers were always encouraging me to develop my written talent.
I remember spending a summer between my 4th and 5th grade year that I began to write a book. Where this book is to this day, all 50 something pages, I have not the slightest clue. I couldn’t have been more than 11 years of age at this point. I caught myself writing about a little Indian girl who had found love at sea. This fair maiden was scouraging the ocean sea in attempt to save her village who was losing its tribe members to disease. Everyday she would check the ocean coast to see if her beloved had returned from sea with aid.
By the time I was in high school, I had more than begun to develop my passion for writing. I had a teacher my sophomore year that would often call on me to recite my stories and a drama teacher who loved to watch me speak and act out my work. I felt so fulfilled that I was recognized for my work. I was more than on my way and was considering going into journalism as I approached applications for colleges. Until one day, my writing career took a turn that would cause me to put away my work.
My senior year of high school, I decided to take ACP composition; this was a college pre-requisite course that mainly focused on comparison and analytical writing. Our teacher was focused on excellence all the way through the writing process, hitting the finest in detail. We would pair up with partners where we would edit one another’s work. There were many processes of re-writes and drafts over the course of this term. I will never forget my first paper I received back, completely drenched in red ink. The feeling I had was that of a ship that had just sunk. For me it was not just about a grade, but I began to question this gift that so many had informed me I had.
I prayed about my approach to writing and passing this class. After school I would meet with my teacher to find tips and strategies to bring out the best in my writing abilities. My teacher encouraged me to enjoy the learning of the writing process itself and not to concentrate so much on the grade. This by far was the most difficult course I had taken so far in all of my years of education. Looking back on the situation, I am not sure that my teacher knew how to motivate or encourage my work. I knew his heart was in the right place, but that didn’t change my feelings of uncertainty, doubt, confusion, and dis-enchantment with writing. I didn’t know how to properly deal with my feelings. I was facing alot of negativity in my home life and home was not exactly a safe place. At that point, I was feeling pressure to perform perfectly in every area of my personal life. I didn’t feel that I could be myself. I became lost and confused, unsure of where to turn. I took up many after school activities and often procrastinated writing papers for class.
I would sit down to write a paper for class and immediately my defenses would go up and my mind would completely blank. The red found on my previous draft distracted me from entering and flowing in my creative juices. All I was focused on was on how trapped and caged this red ink made me feel. I was angry, bitter, and carried resentment with me and towards my teacher. I never worked so hard as I did in this class, but I always felt when I wasn’t procrastinating, I was striving just to get the work done. Writing was no longer something I enjoyed doing, it felt like a chore. The fun had been taken out of my writing and I felt lonely without it. How could something I enjoyed so much, be so worn down and without pleasure?
I was recently reminded of the day I got on my knees and prayed. I wanted to write in the worst way, but I no longer wanted to be a caged bird that was trapped. I wanted to write freely to express myself. I am not a ‘politically correct’ sort of person and I didn’t want my writing to reflect that. I wanted to ‘free-style’ my writing and allow what I shared to have it’s own, unique voice. I knew from a young age I was meant to speak and speaking meant writing to your hearts content. You see, voice wasn’t just a ‘spoken’ word, it was also a ‘written’ word meant to convey a meaning, a story, a point.
When my class was finished that year, I received a high mark considering and was even recognized by my teacher as the most ‘improved’ writer. My teacher expressed his gratitude towards my work, but I was burnt out from writing. Aside from college term papers, my creative writing abilities were put away at this point for over 10 years time. I toyed with the idea a few times and even wrote a few song lyrics, but my passion, I felt, was still squelched. It wouldn’t be until much after my schooling years that I would come face to face with my ‘once’ love. I had forgiven my teacher, but I hadn’t forgotten what had led me to hiding my talent.
One morning, I was having a conversation with a great friend, sister, and mentor. I couldn’t believe the power behind the words coming out of her mouth. I knew she was speaking to me, but it felt like she was being used as a vessel at that moment to communicate directly to me with specific instruction. I was reminded of my gift, my voice. Would I really be asked to re-visit something I had put away in a drawer for so long? Surely my gift had been placed on a dusty shelf covered by cob webs. I was a bit rusty and this blog would be just what I needed, she said, to ‘refresh’ and sharpen my skill. After all, how can we expect to grow if we are only as good as our last skill development? She had a point, a valid one that I could not argue. I thought to myself, maybe if I have more confirmation I will soon write again, maybe there is a point to this blogging, but I don’t know if I am ‘gifted’ enough. I made a laundry list of excuses as to why I ‘couldn’t’ or ‘shouldn’t’ begin writing this blog. I was terrified to let my talent out for others to see, this would mean exposure. Was I ready after the negative attention I had received in my past? I was driving home one day, and I got a gentle nudge and reminder of all the people who said I had a ‘gift’ with words, that I was created in His image with a ‘powerful’ voice that was meant to speak. What do speakers do? Of course, speakers write. Speakers write so that their voice can be heard, my past was doing a face-off match with me, looking at me square in the eye. I could run or I could face the instructions I was being given.
I received another nudge when I was urged to remember the story behind the parable of the talents. We all know that the ones who used their talents were given more, but what about the one who ‘hid’ His talent? He who hid his talent had no relationship with his maker who had blessed him with his gift that he was too scared to use. What was to come of the one who hid his talent? The one who hid his talent, the maker took that talent away and it prospered him nothing. There was nothing to say for the man who hid his talent. Did I really want to be remembered as the one who had ‘nothing’ to say, the one who had the year they were born, a dash in between, and the year they died?
Hiding my talent would only mean one thing for me, disobedience. If I was created by the Creator, by design, with all the right parts to succeed, then what was I so afraid of? Our maker had blessed me, with a beautiful gift, if chiseled away at, developed, over time would become refined and magnificent in all of it’s creative form. All I had to do was flip open the screen, place my fingers on the keyboard, and type away, after a time of prayer of course. How simple, writing could really be. All I had to do was show up, pray, place my fingers on the keys and go. How could I have complicated this?!? With Him I can do all things, because I rest in our maker’s strength. I seek refuge under His shade trees. In all my ways I acknowledge Him and He makes my path clear, even in the raw form and talent of my writing ability. So here I am, ready to serve, ready to be observed and heard by you the reader.
Life is too short I am learning. There are many that will read this post and never respond. Maybe I am not meant to know the people I help and maybe this post will remain a best, kept, hidden secret. I pray for the eyes that read this message, that are crying out for direction and prayer. I pray this is a message of hope to those that are struggling, battling to find their way, that yearn to prosper in something they were once passionate about, but have become lost without clear vision. If this is you, this message is for you. I give you permission to live again, to dream dreams, and to take action on them. Start small by creating simple, daily steps towards those goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your talent developed in one day. Talent development is a step by step, day by day approach. Small attainable goals will keep you from burn out and will get you excited about taking action and following the process of obtaining the ultimate goal. Get excited about your destiny, you were meant for a time such as now and you will never know how much of an impact your talent will have. Do yourself the favor and allow yourself to be the light that shines for someone else to see. Be a light that embraces hope and empowers others to be FREE to be them, no more chains, soaring high, with purpose by design. My friend, you are more important than you think.