From the time I was thirteen, writing has always been my primary way of expressing, processing, grieving, and even healing. I recently came across an article with the phrase “stop writing” in the title, and that was enough to pique my interest. To my surprise, by the time I had finished reading I was flat out angry; what I thought would be an insightful journey of living in the tension between public and private creativity seemed like pure admonishment of those who don’t have the same convictions. I respect the original author’s point of view, and agree that it’s important to be aware of not just what we share, but also the motivation behind it. However, those two things are only a small piece of an incredibly complex puzzle.
Though I’m not as familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert’s work, I’ve adored Glennon Doyle Melton since reading, Carry On, Warrior a couple of years ago. At the time I was a fresh college graduate experiencing two transitions at once, and her words were like a warm blanket, a reassurance that you can still love God and yourself while not putting either in a box. In a culture that glorifies individualism and rebuffs vulnerability, it’s easy to see why she and others would be accused of oversharing and disclosing too much. It brings about the question of why people reveal so much after so many years, or what they hope to accomplish by doing so.
We now live in an era where people are tired of hiding. They’re tired of sitting in the darkness of shame, and are hungering for a life where they can love the God that made them, while also loving how He made them. The pain of living a lie has become much greater than the risk of judgement and rejection, especially in churches and faith communities alike. It seems like judgement itself has become twofold: there’s criticizing a person for their choices in themselves and questioning why those choices were made. And then there’s complete recoil, where some make blanket statements in order to try to push that truth back into a place where they can’t see it.
Which makes me wonder if certain audiences are genuinely concerned about proper discernment, or if they’re more so uncomfortable with people rising above conservative, and perhaps legalistic ideals in order to pursue their own unique relationship with God?
Is this truly a matter of the writer’s heart, or is this more about the reader?
One of those most beautiful (and possibly frustrating) aspects of writing is that the process is different for everyone, and it will ebb and flow over time. Just because someone posts a blog or a Facebook status about getting divorced does not mean that the decision was made the night before. Choosing to share in the “during” does not make a story any less valid or valuable. Choosing to wait and spend time reflecting does not make a story any less real.
The real tragedy is when anyone stops writing all together strictly to please as opposed to setting themselves free. Instead of assuming that they’re feeding a machine, is it possible that they do what they do in order to feed their souls?
We don’t know what’s happening unless we’re the person holding the pen or God Himself; let’s recognize that He knows that person’s heart (Psalm 139), and that He might be doing things that we on the outside don’t understand. What He may be leading you to do might not be the same for others. And even if it is the “wrong time,” let us trust that something beautiful will come out of it, and that transformation and growth are still possible. It is true that some things should be between them and God, but that also includes their choice in how they process their own personal journey.
It comes down to this: If it’s not your story to tell, you do not get to dictate how it’s told. If you don’t like it, then don’t look at it.
To those that rise up and choose to speak despite the criticism or backlash, I’m grateful for you. I love you and I need you, despite what others say. To those that have paused or taken a step back for whatever reason, your choice is no less honorable. You can write, you can listen, and you can do both at the same time. As long as you honor God and honor who you are, the rest will take care of itself.
If writing is what saves you, and bringing it to light is what heals you, then please don’t ever stop.