"...out of the belly of Sheol I cried...": Finding My Voice & Writing Again

"It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality,
that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
-C.S. Lewis


I stumbled across this quote by Lewis yesterday on Twitter (yes, I know, I know. Twitter. That beacon of millennial depravity. The downfall of intelligent society) on an account I follow that posts short daily tidbits of his writings. Even though I often read and retweet (translation: repost or share with others who follow me) these short quotes, something about this one struck me deeply.

“...when I give myself up to His personality..”

My initial reaction was shock. What does that even mean, giving myself over to HIS personality so that I might have one of my OWN? That doesn't even make sense. Yes, surely we are meant to reflect more of the character of Christ in ourselves, our actions, and our works, but how will that give me my own personality?

Wouldn’t that just make me more like Christ, not like myself?

Now, as I am keenly aware, as surely are you, too, the human mind is often a fickle, foolish thing. We fail sometimes to understand plain, simply-put concepts. Need proof? Just look to the Bible. Scripture is rampant with examples of followers of Jesus not understanding things which to us seem almost stupidly simple.

Of course, Lewis isn’t scripture, and yet somehow my mind still initially couldn’t wrap itself around the point he was making.

But then, it hit me.

I often find that in order to truly connect to theological, Biblical, or intellectual concepts, I have to somehow relate to them personally and viscerally, with a real-life example. I was mulling over this idea of finding my own personality in Christ when I was hit with it.

My writing.

I have been writing (or, at least, attempting to) nearly everything since I was a little girl and could grace a pen to paper--books, poems, newspapers, letters, essays, articles.

Despite the fact that I was creative and certainly imaginative, as most children are, my earliest writing was merely emulations of others.  At eight, I wrote my first novel eerily in the style of the Junie B. Jones series, and completed my first collection of poems in a strange, franken mishmash of Robert Frost, Christina Rossetti, and others.

I look back at these clumsy, childish attempts at beauty with a sort of ashamed amusement--I was young and I was trying. I will admit I was somewhat gifted, at least a little, at understanding, using, and fitting rather grownup words together, but none of that writing back then was truly my own.

And here we come to now. I’m twenty-one, an English major (surprise, surprise), and although it's been years since my childhood almost-but-not-quite-plagiarism, I still find myself struggling for, barely grasping at, my own, my real, voice.

Do I even have anything worth saying? Worth reading?

I took a creative writing class this past semester and I settled upon a series of poems as my final project, only to discover that I totally lacked inspiration or basic motivation to write anything. I remember attempting to explain to the professor that this totally wasn’t like me, that usually the words flow SO easily, that I didn’t understand. I was incredibly frustrated.

For months, my writing was barren. I could sit for hours at my desk, and nothing would come.

I thought my voice was gone, and I was angry.

At who, I can’t say for certain. Myself? God? My circumstances? I felt dry; I was content in life, but my mind and my heart was a desert. If I was anyone else I might say “be careful what you wish for”, because let me tell, inspiration did come, but not in a pleasant way.

Hurt, sorrow, and a thousand other emotions came in, and poetry, in great abundance flowed out.

Many of you, especially those who have read my previous post on this blog, know that this summer has been a challenging one for me. I have been experiencing and dealing with a lot, both externally and internally. I have been absolutely broken. Yet, somehow, in this time of trial, I feel closer to Him, to my Father, then perhaps I ever have in my life.

In this intimate, profound closeness with my Creator, I have somehow gotten my voice back, weak and desperate as it is.

I now write with a ferocity I had never known before. The words seem to pour out of me; I feel as though I was a full pitcher of cream--tip me over and all my contents came spilling out.

I supposed to just needed to be tipped.

I cannot say what the why, or how, or the who of what I am experiencing now is, only that He is using it. He is taking me, and teaching me, and molding my stubborn, messy, and rebellious heart into something more reflective of Him. I can feel it, day after difficult day, and it gives me a blessed hope; an assurance that I can’t always understand, but sorely desire.

It is in writing this post, as I sit here, that Lewis’ quote forms sense to me. That voice, the one present in my writing? I cannot separate that from Him. It is a gift that God has given to me, if I try to separate it from Him, I will find it empty and lacking and dry.

His truth is what breathes life into the words of my pen and my keyboard. Sometimes it is painful, sometimes it is pure joy, but it always flows from that deep place of intimacy and total surrender to His will.  

That is where I must glorify Him--in the words I release to the world---in my very identity.

"I called out to the Lord,
out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice" -Jonah 2:2

In the tension of the strength and fragility of my own voice, that is where I find His voice.


In Daylight and Darkness,

Zoe


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about me


Zoe. 22. Christian. Oregonian at present, Washingtonian at heart.
Always-wanderer, old book-collector, and coffee enthusiast.