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How Writing Can Be a Spiritual Discipline

How Writing Can Be a Spiritual Discipline

My life was a line of dominos I hoped ended with art. I had a game plan: first, I would get my finances in order. Next, I’d find myself a hipster husband and buy a house furnished with just enough mid-century furniture to keep my Instagram relevant. Once I was settled, I’d take some time to invest in my faith; then, I’d finally know enough to write something worth reading. It would be about Jesus, and how I did things right. And it would change the world.

When I resigned to the idea that every season of my life was something to be mastered instead of lived, I put off the very thing I was made to do. See, writing is my thing. It always has been. But then God came into the picture, and I got flustered. I didn’t know how to exist in the tension of having with two loves, two passions, two callings (note to past self: good luck with that when you start a family). The obvious solution? Trade my writing in for my faith.

What I got in return wasn’t what I expected—I missed out. While my black-and-white perspective probably robbed me of some meaningful writing material, what it really stole from me was even more devastating: an opportunity to enrich the same faith I was trying to protect. It took me almost eight years to figure this out, but as I’ve melded the roles of wife, mom, follower of Jesus and finally, writer, I’ve come full circle: Faith cultivates meaningful writing, but writing feeds faith just the same.

Another amazing reality is that you can enjoy the spiritual benefits of writing even if you’re not a writer in any other sense. Here’s why:

Writing Is Sanctifying.

I quit writing because I didn’t want to risk the potential mess of practicing it alongside my faith. I wanted to focus on what mattered: growing in God. Little did I know, the growth I hungered for was hidden in the mess I’d make doing what God created me to do.

Aside from mothering, nothing in my life molds my character more than writing does. A few weeks ago, I had an idea for an article I’d write for a pretty big online publication. It was a satirical piece poking fun at authenticity as it’s presented on social media, and I was convinced it would go viral. It was hilarious, but not hopeful. When I got to church that morning, I sensed God telling me not to write it. I had a choice: say yes to the Lord or say yes to the possibility of popularity. When I let the mess of my humanity overlap with God, in some unmeasurable, mysterious way, I became more like Jesus.

Writing Promotes Worship.

Painter Makoto Fujimura writes in his book Refractions, “Artists are … like the shepherds, often the first to notice the miracles taking place right in front of us.” Writers mine for miracles. We put ourselves in the way of beauty, in the way of God Himself, positioning ourselves to worship.

When I write, my perspective shifts. The mundane becomes a minefield for inspiration. My daily routine becomes an adventure, an opportunity to look for living hope where others may see none. And when I find that hope, I rejoice in the God who gave it to me. Whether I respond to beauty with a blog post, a song or a prayer, my response is worship because I’m noticing God’s beauty and celebrating it—celebrating Him.

Writing Is Missional.

As writers, we lasso meaning, shape it into something beautiful, and offer it to the world. The key, for me, is not to get hung up in whether or not I’m writing about faith. 2 Corinthians 2:15 says we’re the aroma of Christ. Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, we exude God’s character. Even if I don’t name drop Jesus in my article, the message of hope I capture relays a dimension of who God is—His love, His power, His sovereignty, His goodness. And when I say “yes” to God’s design for my life by living creatively, I give others permission to do the same. What does the world need more than a band of free men and women living true to their callings?

Writing Is in Itself an Act of Faith.

Writing is good practice for faith in God. Because much like our spiritual life, art is a risk: Something, or someone, beckons us to explore the uncharted, wild territory inside ourselves, and we go bravely, hopeful we’ll find evidence of God. Moving forward into those depths, unsure if we’ll be confronted by darkness or surprised by light, takes faith.

I love how Julia Cameron describes creativity in her book The Artist’s Way: “Artists are visionaries. We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance—often visible to us, but invisible to those around us. Art is an act of faith, and we practice practicing it.” Exercising faith in my creative life teaches me how to step inside of a mystery and believe for beauty—a lesson I apply every day as I pursue Jesus.

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