For the first time in months, I opened my book and read some of the poems included. As I read, I was encouraged, challenged, comforted, and convicted. I’d forgotten some of the lines I wrote years ago, and I was glad to find them again.
For a while, I’ve been a bit hesitant to enjoy my own work. I felt that there must exist some unwritten rule regarding art: you can’t really enjoy your own work without being arrogant. We’ve all likely seen people who promote themselves too much, and we tend to withdraw from such people. And I think that in our attempt to appear humble, we can shift to the opposite extreme and rarely acknowledge our work. We can downplay the talents God has entrusted to us and fail to use them. I think, however, God wants to use our gifts for his glory, and, to do so, we need to get comfortable with our work.
One way to do this is simply to reflect on what you’ve created. Why did you choose that chord? Why those words? Why that color? As I read through my poems, I reflected a bit on the structure and sound of the poems. That encouraged me by showing me what I’d done in the past, and it challenged me to explore some different approaches again, to avoid getting stuck in the same pattern for too long.
I also reflected on the messages conveyed in the poems and was both comforted and convicted. Comfort came as I remembered lessons learned in earlier seasons of life, lessons I often lose sight of. Conviction came as I reflected on the focus of some of the poems, on past disciplines I need to currently address and past understandings I need to remind myself of.
As I read, I reflected, and I was helped. The words I once wrote may never be widely read, but they don’t need to be. The purpose of using God’s gifts is not our fame but his glory. Maybe my words remain simply to remind me of truth when I doubt, of grace when I fall, of hope when I’m afraid. If so, they are still worth writing, for those words are records of God’s faithfulness in my life.
A journal may do the same job as well, if not better, than writings shared with others. And not everything needs to be shared (I keep a journal that often influences but remains distinct from what I share publicly). Still, the public writings help me to reflect on God’s goodness, and I’m thankful for that. And as I write for others, I pray my words reflect the LORD of the gifts.
I’m not sure how God’s gifted you. I do know he wants to use your gifts for his glory. So write that poem, sing that song, paint that picture. Do what God’s gifted you to do, praying for him to use it. Then reflect on your work and see what he does with it.
Joe Waller is an NOBTS PhD student. This post originally appeared on his blog AsILearnToWalk.com