This week has been a test of motherhood. There are weeks of being a mom that are carefree and easy going, and then there are weeks like this where everyone is grumpy and in tears by the end of each day. I happily went to church last night for Wednesday Night Bible Study with the sole purpose of having a kid-free few hours. It’s not the best motivation, but it is what it is. I was beat.
When our pastor stood up and began the study in Nehemiah, I was blown away by how closely the lesson paralleled my life right now and my call to write. He spoke of challenges and obstacles that arise when we do what we are called to do. But what struck me was the middle of Nehemiah 2:19 when Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem mocked Nehemiah and his group for saying God had commanded them to rebuild Jerusalem:
They laughed us to scorn. Nehemiah 2:19
I’ve written before of college being a stumbling block in my writing journey, but the worst of it was my creative writing course.
The creative writing course was set up like a writing group, so it was naturally a small class. We had maybe fifteen students total. Since it was so small, it was nearly impossible to get into these classes. When my registration slot opened up, I quickly requested creative writing and got in. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe I would receive credit for a class where all of my homework was my most favorite pastime.
It took one assignment for me to realize how wrong I was.
That class tore apart my writing. I wasn’t ever criticized for my writing ability but my content. I was dubbed “too sweet.” Only people who wrote about sex, drugs or violence were labeled as “good” writers, but I had vehemently refused to include any of these topics in my writing. While I did learn some helpful writing tools, I learned them at the cost of my confidence.
On our last day of class, our writing instructor held a rewards “ceremony.” Each student voted for who would be most likely to become a published novelist or most likely to write crime novels.
The class voted me most likely to write a children’s book.
I have nothing against children’s books, in fact, I love reading them to my kids and admire authors that can write books so uniquely suited for children. It’s through children’s books that we all first learn to love reading.
In this class, however, writing a children’s book was the equivalent of being a city council member when your career aspiration is being the president of the United States.
When I stood up to choose my prize (everyone could select a small item from the prizes on the table), my instructor stopped me from choosing and handed me a Kinder Egg.
The class roared.
I swallowed my pride, felt my cheeks grow warm and sat down with my booby prize. Everyone else stood up and accepted their “awards,” chose their prize and sat down with cheers, “way to go”s and applause.
I left that final class defeated and discouraged. I convinced myself that if I couldn’t even make it in that writing course, then there was a zero percent chance I could succeed in the “real world.”
I let them win.
When we were reading through Nehemiah last night, our pastor specifically stopped at the phrase “they laughed us to scorn.” I knew that feeling. Yet, when we read on, our pastor highlighted Nehemiah’s response to Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem in verse 20:
Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build[…]. Nehemiah 2:20
Nehemiah did not waver in his trust in God or what God called him to do. He didn’t care what Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem said because they were just men, not God.
It’s so easy for me to be beaten down by what other people say of my abilities. Despite being an advertising major, I never did develop the thick skin required in the industry. But, I have to remember: it is God who gave me this love of writing, it is God who has called me now to write this book, and despite what other people say God will complete the work he started in me.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27