On Hold

“Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4

I walked into my creative writing class as a senior in high school with a little bit of fear. I was not very good at school, so I thought I would give this a try. I loved stories and writing, but I couldn’t follow the rules. The first day we were asked to write…with no rules…just write. It was like my soul was healed. I didn’t worry about commas or tenses. I wrote with abandoned heart. I felt so free. I started to gain more confidence in my writing, and I knew it was a gift. I was determined to turn it into something, as I felt like God had given me this very special voice.

I was finally good at something.

After college I wandered into a career that had nothing to do with writing, and I ached. So, I decided to try to write some articles about some recent adventures and send them to magazines. I received rejection after rejection, but that didn’t slow me down. I had a great idea for a book and decided to try that. I was one sentence in and couldn’t write anymore. Maybe I was going at it the wrong way.

So, I turned to church. My pastor gave me a project: a devotional to write for a new series he was starting. I gathered some people to help me, but no one had any time. I was traveling for work at the time, and every night in my hotel room I would sit down to write. I couldn’t get anything out. I wasn’t just suffering from writer’s block, I was completely empty. The words I wanted to put together were all scattered. Any ideas I came up with were crap. Nothing made any sense. I was going around and around in a circle of nonsense. I was so frustrated. I had recently gotten married to the hottest man on earth, and I was suffering from some major character development in the way of a constant struggle to be right. Every area of my life seemed a road to failure. I called the pastor overseeing the project and apologized. “I can’t do this. I’m so sorry.”

Failures in the past never got to me. I was fortunate as a child to have a mother who believed in me and always taught me to never give up. I had a very high self esteem and way too much confidence. I wanted recognition for something. I wanted to be good at something. I cried out to God, humiliated. Why isn’t this working anymore? Why can’t I write? I felt like I dialed up some random customer service line and was placed on hold with the saxophone version of “My Heart Will Go On” playing.

I couldn’t write anymore…I couldn’t even journal. I stopped writing all together. For a couple of years I thought it was gone. I had to grieve my gift. I settled on, “This is not what God has for me.” I moved on.

I still loved to read. I read a Francine Rivers novel and was intrigued by her story. After turning her life over to Christ, she could not write for several years. She realized that writing was her identity, her idol. That story gave me hope. It was then that I dove into the Bible. I studied more than I ever had before. It came alive to me.

I would try to make that call again, every once in a while. Dear God, can I have my gift back? Sorry, you are still on hold. I took that as, get back in the Bible and listen. I tried to build something myself. I used the idea of God to get ahead. I got scattered, confused, and frustrated. I laid it down not because I was obedient, but because I was so hard headed it was taken away. I worked at letting God be God. I didn’t try to define him. There are still days when I try to tell him how the story should go and again, I am placed on hold. But, I’m getting better at being humble. I’m getting better at realizing that after the scattering comes the promise of hope. The promise of Abraham followed the scattering and confusion in the Bible, and, through Abraham, came the hope of the world. “On Hold” promises were common in His book. They were just as frustrating, but just as rewarding.

I went to a writing workshop about 6 years after I stopped writing. In those 6 years my husband completed medical school, we had two babies, and my husband had just had a major surgery to remove a tumor in his lung. I went into the workshop with a lot of fear. I sat down and there was paper in front of me. I knew we were going to have to write something. I started sweating. Our facilitator began to speak about writing, and I felt at peace. I really related with everything she said about writing. I was being freed again. She gave us a 3 minute exercise and when she said go, I couldn’t stop writing. That sexy saxophone played the last note.

I never thought anyone would be interested in my story, but after getting so much hope out of someone else’s story, I decided to write it down. What you are reading now is the dream, “on hold.” The words, nouns, verbs, periods, and commas that may or may not be in the right place. The hold music has stopped. Now the hard part begins. Getting the “on hold” out that has been sitting so long. The “on hold” is lazy with atrophied muscle. But, I hear it crying out. Crying out to hear the clicks of the keys on the keyboard. Even as I write there are green squiggly lines under most of my sentences, but I don’t care. I’m writing again, and it really has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with what God has done in me.

I know you’ve heard before, Wait on God’s timing. I used to hear it so often I wanted to punch anyone who said it to me. I’d love to write more about all the “seasons” I have been through, but I know a lot of people think that word has been played out. I know you are tired of seasons and you are tired of being put on hold, but know this, the story has already been written. Lay your story before God and let him make it his own.

Even now, I’m preparing for humility, confusion, rejection, and undirected wondering. But, I have hope. I get to daily offer these words at his feet and let him be glorified through a gift he placed in me.

© · Kelli Sommers All rights reserved