David wrote that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Indeed we are. And each one of us is unique with different interest, talents, etc. As an artist, I’m made aware of this fact often. When I perceive one of my pieces of art to be mediocre, there is always someone who admires the picture.
It’s the same with my writing. When my Aunt Shirley Story Ministry was in demand (a ministry of encouragement), I remember telling a story to a group of seniors. I was half way through it when I thought, ‘This story is weak and boring. There’s no point to it.’ I almost quit at that moment. I had it in my mind to jump off the platform and head home. But I stayed and finished the story. Afterwards people told me they enjoyed it and there should be more stories like it. “Write some more.” they said. Well, I was encouraged.
Another time, I entered a story in a contest under the youth fiction category. After I sent it, I thought, ‘Oh, what a waste of time and energy! That’s not my best work.’ To my surprise the story won third place. I’m not sure if the reader received encouragement but I was certainly uplifted.
At a ladies’ retreat one fall, I was invited to tell one of my “Aunt Shirley” stories. After the presentation, a lady came to me and said, “Your story spoke to me.” Another one said, “I needed that. Thanks!” Image that! We encouraged each other.
Sometimes when I’m asked to speak or tell my stories, I use humour to illustrate a point or a life lesson. Those stories have always gone over well. People laugh; they learn; they share their funny incidents. Their problems may not be solved at the end of the presentation but for a few minutes their burdens are lifted, maybe even enough to renew their strength and carry on.
Whenever I’m invited to speak, I always wonder who will be encouraged. God always answers. Sometimes someone in the crowd is encouraged – God speaks to them through my writing. And sometimes it’s me – God speaks to me through others.