This blog was incredibly cathartic for me as I reflected on my calling as a writer. Just putting such words together in a sentence fills me with humbleness that I can say such a thing. I am a writer! Wow!
When I think of who started the fire for my creativity and inspiration to write one person readily comes to my mind. Her name was Miss Gordon and she was one of my teachers when I was a young boy in Scotland. I definitely was not the scholarly type. I was so withdrawn and introverted that even when I knew I was having trouble with my schooling I didn’t go to anyone for help.
To make a long story short my dad, the school custodian, told me that Miss Gordon offered to help me. I reluctantly went to her with fear and trembling expecting to be chastised for being such a poor student. To my amazement she accepted me for who I was and to me she became a lifelong model of a person of peace and compassion. This is what I needed at that time in my life!
When meeting with Miss Gordon I felt that I mattered and I wasn’t familiar with that feeling. Miss Gordon didn’t just try to help me with my schooling. She helped me to have a sense of who I am and that it was okay to be introverted and creative
From being with Miss Gordon a number of times during lunch or after school I learned I loved to write. It was how I spoke into the world. It was how I expressed my feelings. It was something about Miss Gordon and her care for me that unleashed my writing.
When I was ten years my parents decided to move my family to Canada. I never saw Miss Gordon again! My childhood had a number of emotional challenges that continued on when we settled in Canada. My sense of inadequacy came back and I didn’t have Miss Gordon to motivate and encourage me. I still wrote but only in school and because composition was part of the curriculum. I didn’t write at home because I was afraid of being laughed at. The feeling I had was no one would want to read anything I wrote.
After my emotionally encumbered childhood and teenage years I became a Christian when I was twenty-one. I soon discovered the writing and ministry of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, an evangelical scholar who gained prominence in the 1970’s. From his writings I learned how to put one’s faith into action or in other words how to live out faith in our culture and the world. I especially loved his book and video series “How Should We Then Live?” One of his teachings that still speaks to me today is that there is no use being against something if we are not willing to come up with an alternative.
I would say it was Dr. Schaeffer who was most prominent in my writing as a believer. Without trying to minimize the suffering people may experience I write to bring messages of encouragement and hope to those going through challenges in their lives. Dr. Schaeffer and later in my life, Dr. Henri Neuman, have both helped shape my life’s calling and my writing. Both recognize the role of suffering in our lives and that we can have hope even in and through suffering.