Fighting — and writing — through fear

It takes an inordinate amount of courage to reveal our lives — our bad choices, our weaknesses and foibles, our very souls — in our writing. So the title of the Center for Faith and Work’s workshop for writers, Fearless: Accessing Hidden Creativity Through the Written Word, snapped me to attention. We long to be known (and we are by God, thank God!), even as we fear people’s judgment. A prayer for bravery is probably the way to start any writing. It’s how I begin when I face the screen or the page.

I went to the workshop hoping to be strengthened and nudged to be more intrepid in my writing. I also hoped to meet Christian writers, a merry band that wanted to write to the glory of God while engaging human readers. This isn’t easy! We need each other’s encouragement and reminders to stay grounded in God’s word, in his love for us and for all human beings. I left the workshop with an action plan to fight — and write — through the fear.

The workshop leader, Jakki Kerubo, helped the 30 writers begin to ease our fears with her easygoing, interactive approach. Though she earned her MFA from NYU’s prestigious Creative Writing program, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and Quartz, among many other outlets, the CFW Artist-in-Residence did not speak or teach from “on high.” She kept the event lively and interactive, encouraging the comments that flew from the audience.

Jakki centered the workshop around two scriptures: 2 Timothy 1:6-7 and Luke 21:15. These verses highlight the fact that God is strengthening us, giving us irresistible wisdom for this task of revealing ourselves in our writing. We need these reminders that we don’t have to be our own rock — that we have a Rock holding us up.

She listed our many fears: of putting a believer’s perspective out and being condemned for it, writing about our traumas and people judging us for the bad choices we made, or online reactions with trolling and derogatory remarks. Then, Jakki reiterated the source of our courage: Christ.

“Knowing who we are in Christ,” Jakki said, “helps us not care so much what people think.”

Part of what makes this “knowing” real is trust. “Knowing our self-worth, putting our best work out, not caring what people think,” Jakki continued, means “letting go and trusting God for the outcome.”
It’s essential to remember that God is in control of the process of getting our words out as well as the way our work is received. “We’re not responsible for the reception of the seeds we sow, any more than the farmer in Jesus’ parable of the Sower was responsible for the condition of the ground the seeds fell on.”

She urged us as writers to find liberation from fears by shedding light on our own dark places. “Go to the dark stuff, even in a blog,” she encouraged. “Live the least secretive life you can possibly live, and you’ll have fewer worries to be afraid of.”

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Articles in this Issue

A step in pursuit of justice
Redeemer Grace and Race
Lessons learned from 30 years in ministry
Kathy Keller
For the good of our neighborhood
Chuck Armstrong
Niggle and me: Imagine if your work really mattered
Jerry Dienes
Hope through Graffiti
Hope for New York