Welcome to guest blogger Kathleen Friesen.
The Breathings of My Heart
Writing takes courage. Submitting takes even more.
Even if an author simply states facts, she opens herself to argument over the veracity of her statements and the implication that her research or knowledge failed. That can hurt.
If, however, an author writes from her heart, whether fiction or nonfiction, she opens her very soul to judgement. Oh. My. Goodness. Judgement cuts deep, sometimes wounding beyond healing, without the grace of God.
That’s why I didn’t submit any of my writings until my mid-forties. I was not brave enough. Way back in a high school creative writing class, my offering was read aloud with effusive praise from the teacher, and a spark flared. I could do this! But then reality hit like a fire extinguisher. Where praise elevated, judgement crushed. I cowered under the unkind remarks of classmates and banked that feeble spark. Maybe later, I thought. I’ll be brave enough when I’m an adult. But I wondered if I could ever dare to expose my heart to strangers again.
It took many years. That spark flared up many times, and I filled journals with ramblings, poems, and starts of stories. Then finally, with the encouragement of my husband, I enrolled in a two-year online writing course from Christian Writers Guild and was assigned a mentor who encouraged as well as she instructed. Karen O’Connor’s enthusiasm instilled in me the courage to dare.
So a few months into the course, I submitted a poem dredged from the depths of grief. The tumour in my little niece’s brain had returned. Writing the poem was cathartic, but submitting the breathings of my heart scared me to death. What if it didn’t bring inspire anyone’s faith, the way I hoped? What if no one liked it? What if they branded me a heretic?
When my copy of the magazine arrived in the mail, I opened it with trembling fingers and stared at my published poem until tears blurred the words. That first publication fanned the spark into full flame. The fear I’d felt when submitting my work couldn’t compare to the joy of seeing the thoughts of my heart in print and the hope that somehow God would use me to bless others.
What made the difference? My mentor’s encouragement helped, but what continues to fan that spark into flame is the breath of God’s love. He is the one who pushes me to step past my fears, time after time. He constantly and patiently pulls me out of my ingrained self-centeredness, that trait that tells me I have to protect myself above all else.
Jesus Christ says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” And in another place: “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That doesn’t leave any room for self-protection, does it?
When I open my heart, I bleed. It hurts. But if that bleeding helps someone else to heal, to hope, to love Jesus, it is worth all the anxiety and pain. The breathings of my heart become the breath of God. What greater privilege can there possibly be?
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.