April 26, 2016

Being Yentl by Marnie Pohlmann

“Follow Me,” said Jesus, and by ones and twos the men we know as His disciples began their apprenticeship. That’s not really where their training began, though.

In Jewish culture, boys were taught from a young age what the Torah and Tanakh said, and also what the Talmud said as interpretation of the Torah. While girls were not necessarily taught in a formal manner, Scripture’s examples of women as prophets, judges, and leaders indicate girls also grew in knowledge of the Lord and God’s Word.

I am reminded of one of my favourite music movies, “Yentl” with Barbara Streisand as a Jewish girl who poses as a boy so she can learn. I won’t share the details so the twists of the movie are not spoiled if you haven’t seen it, so please look for this entertaining show. Suffice it to say; learning the Word of God was a central part of Jewish culture.

So the fishermen, tax collector, doctor, and others were already knowledgeable about the foundations of faith. When their call came, they recognized it and responded to the invitation of the Master. Jesus taught them by example, by word, and through discussion, reminding them and illuminating for them things they already knew. He challenged them to more and greater than they ever imagined.

My writing apprenticeship also started long before I responded to the call.

Heading to school, I was already a lover of reading, so when we learned to print our names I was so excited! I ran home to show my Mom.
“Marjorie. That’s spelled wrong,” she said.
So she sent a note back to my teacher, explaining my name was spelled “Margery.” I didn’t mind – now I knew how to write more letters, and put them together to make words.

About Grade Four, we were asked to write a story from the point of view of an object. The teacher was impressed with my tale of a tire that was happy to be recycled as a flowerbed. I had seen such a garden on my walk home from school. And so I learned the basics of POV and personification.

By Grade Seven I knew I loved creative writing, and discovered synonyms and antonyms to make my writing more interesting. I wrote about a conflagration and described how the blood of an animal teemed. What fun!

Throughout school, but especially in High School, I discovered recognition for my writing by winning National contests. I also wrote for the school newspaper, and enjoyed writing essay assignments.

But what happened when school was done? How did I continue to write? Was the saying true, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”? Perhaps! My writing turned inward with journaling, and occasional pieces for non-profits or my job, but nothing to move me forward.

Yet that is when the call came. As I wrote just between God and me, journaling my past and present pains, the call to follow God as a writer came. At first I refused. I struggled with God. I wanted to write exciting things, not happy-ever-after religious stuff.

And so began my apprenticeship. First lesson – with God an integral part of me, no matter what genre I write, His influence shows. Only with God is there a happy-ever-after, so even the most difficult, realistic stories I pen will show that Hope in some form. It’s just who I am.

Now, as I follow God, I will learn from the example of others and through discussion and correction. We journey together bravely sharing what we are led to write. Writing seems solitary, but it takes teachers and companions to learn our ministry and craft. I grow stronger by following God with others on this adventure.

Like Yentl, a writer’s desire is not met by just having a foundation. We must apply that basic knowledge and seek to understand more, to practice and share more. And like Yentl, I pray we will travel to new places as we follow our desire to know and show God.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12 (NASB)

Marnie Pohlmann writes from a small northern town to show the world that God’s light shines in darkness. Read Marnie’s blog, Phosphorescent, at marniewriter.com


  1. As usual, your words make me want to stop and think about my own journey and whether I am allowing God to lead. (Get well my friend!0

  2. I liked your comparison of your writing apprenticeship to those of the disciples. Jesus took such great care and patience with them as he spent personal time with them. This is how he views us also in our small steps towards becoming better writers. I hope to read much more from you Marnie. You are always inspiring.

  3. Yes Marnie, I appreciated the reference to the greatest apprenticeship program known, that of the disciples. Chuckled over the Marjorie to Margery tidbit, and how did you move to Marnie? Thanks for the post.

    1. LOL apparently my brothers couldn't say Margery so it came out Marnie and stuck. Surprised that now I meet people who are Marnie for real, not as a nickname.

  4. Wonderful post, Marnie. Our stories are very similar. We describe our writing journey as beginning in grade school.

  5. "Being Yentl." Such a great title. I like that movie too. And I so enjoyed hearing a bit of your writing story. Beautiful.

  6. Again, I enjoyed your blog, Marnie--all of it, but I especially appreciate your second last paragraph as a personal challenge to me.

    "Like Yentl, a writer’s desire is not met by just having a foundation. We must apply that basic knowledge and seek to understand more, to practice and share more. And like Yentl, I pray we will travel to new places as we follow our desire to know and show God."

    I also got a chuckle out of how you got the name Marnie out of Margery.


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