Originally published in Influence Network Magazine
I used to write like Ann Voskamp. Or, I tried.
I love what truth lies inside of that woman. Every word she writes glistens with God--reading her writing coats the deepest part of my heart with His love. Seriously, the woman has a gift, and she wields it so powerfully.
Reading Ann Voskamp inspired me. Still does. But as I grow as a creative and follower of Jesus, I have picked up on something. It’s not the words Voskamp writes I want to duplicate; it’s the content she lives in-- her obvious obedience to God’s call on her life. Ann Voskamp’s work drips with beauty because she is just walking in it. She knows Jesus, and she is living true to Him and how He designed her.
I have caught little glimpses of that in my own life -- those sweet, soul-lit seasons alongside Jesus. But when I’m running dry and low on grace, I find myself stomping around the internet dressed like somebody else. Enter Ann Voskamp voice: hard evidence that my eyes have turned from Creator to creation, focusing on the the people whose callings or personalities seem more important than mine. What else to do but fashion a false identity to write and live from? What else to do but hide?
Here’s the sticky thing about living life behind that mask. Comparing my gifts and my platform to someone else’s doesn’t just affect me. When I hijack someone else’s story or personality or gifts, I also cheat the world out of a view of God’s glory I was crafted to display. When I hide, the world misses out on experiencing the part of God’s beauty only I can offer. Think of it this way: a mask can’t love people. The Holy Spirit doesn’t live there. He abides in me--the real me. So my faithfulness to His design means everything.
Off with the mask. The only way to cultivate the fruit I am after is living close to Jesus--aiming my life at Him in intimacy and following along as He pens the story of my life. In that place, He turns all my junk into gold. The things I once perceived as weaknesses to cover up with poetic language are suddenly my most powerful currency. I know now that the world doesn’t need more good writers; it needs more women true to their giftings and the messes alongside them. It needs women alive in grace.
A healthy, growing heart is the biggest favor I can do for the world and for my craft. Because living all-in for Him, with a single mind, kills both birds. As I run after Jesus, I get the prize of intimacy with the God who made me, and the world gets an authentic, vibrant picture of a woman alive in her gifts. She might be sarcastic and she might be crass and she might spend too much money on specialty lattes, but she doesn’t have to hide. She knows Jesus.