I scoot into the vinyl both next to H for his impromptu business meeting during our vacation seven years ago and I walk away with a job offer. But the job isn’t the most surprising part of the conversation over plates of pancakes and sausage.
It’s the way the Director of Communications considers me for a writing position, knowing my limited experience. She asks questions about my background in marketing and publishing, my love for photography and the way I pioneer my children’s elementary school yearbook into the digital age. I had no idea then, how the fragments of my experiences would culminate into a writing life.
On gut instinct, she hires me to write features and news articles for four years. Don’t we all need someone to believe in us for who we are, not for what we bring to the table?
This job, it’s an answer to weeks of prayer about contributing to our family income. And I am specific, asking God for work during the hours my kids are in school, with flexability to volunteer and take inevitable trips with my family. It seems like I’m expecting a bit too much.
But God, His arms stretch wider than my capacity and my limited thinking. He has a call in mind, not a job.
I spend those initial days pacing the floor with Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, underline and memorize passages in Zinsser’s On Writing Well to bridge the novice gaps. Read newspaper articles and analyze sentence structure in magazines to hone my skills. Take LaMott’s Bird by Bird advice to heart and write lots of “sh***y first drafts.”
Time is a selfish bedfellow, one that doesn’t leave room for stretching into conferences or classes on writing.
My voice shakes during the first phone interview. I take excessive notes, ask needless questions. My guinea pig, the kind man with the radio voice, he happens to work for my husband years later and becomes a surrogate grandparent to my kids.
I expect my first stories, the ones I labor to deliver for hours hunched over my keyboard, to resemble shreds of the originals after the editing process. Pray my identity trumps the inevitable rejection. And I learn something.
Sometimes you don’t realize the call on your life – that thing that makes your heart sing because God creates you to do it – until someone recognizes it in you first. And being faithful to the process that defines calling, no matter how painful, lengthy and uncertain, can be a journey of transformative grace.
A key toward victory through life’s difficulties? It’s one person who believes in you more than you believe in yourself.
You can be that one person for someone.
That breakfast on vacation, it leads to a slew of writing assignments and divine appointments with people that believe in what I bleed on the page. An essay chosen from thousands as a finalist for a writing contest. Abiding friendships with people I haven’t looked in the eyes yet, writing contracts and an agent.
And this twisty, uncertain road of finding my voice amidst the writing crowds, it all starts with tagging along for an impromptu incident that was planned all along.
Perhaps saying yes to interruption is where prayers are answered. And where belonging leads to belief.
This is one of my most popular posts, originally published in September 2012. I hope the message blesses you this week. As I prepare my daughter for college, I’m thinking often about calling and purpose and the way God’s plans for us are impenetrable.