I shared my first poem and felt a little piece of my purpose fell into place.
I was relieved afterwards to find that I didn’t feel any pride. God had unmistakably given me that surrender experience, led me out of struggle, and then given me that poem. I just asked Him what He wanted me to say, and then wrote it down. God led me to humbly share. There was nothing for me to be prideful about in my head before, during, or after.
But here’s where I did falter: I moved on before God said “go” to the next poem.
It started innocently enough. I was sitting at church grappling with communion and what it meant to me. I received a couple phrases. That happens often enough. Most of the phrases God gives me don’t become poems or blog posts. But this time, there was a part of my brain that felt “I have to follow this up with another poem to stay relevant.” And I moved.
There was a moment of repentance at IF:Gathering 2016 before communion, and I experienced the power of God convicting me to repent not only to Him but to man. That was when He chose to help me. Put two-and-two together, and I figured that I could share that experience with others.
Except again, it was partially motivated by a desire to stay relevant and unleash a friend. Y’all, I spent hundreds of hours on that poem, and I did feel that there was a word in there, but I knew instinctively as the weeks trimmed down that this poem wasn’t going to feel finished when I performed it. It wasn’t going to feel polished or tight. I knew that God was going to humble me through sharing something I really wasn’t satisfied with. I knew He was going to teach me a lesson.
And I did share the 2/3-baked poem. For a long time afterwards, I didn’t open the file. I didn’t know if I ever would again…except I didn’t feel released from it. When I opened it several months later, the hours upon hours I spent on that process felt like a burden that I wanted to be over but wasn’t.
Piece-by-piece, though, God started putting this piece here and teaching me that there, and new structure, experiences and revelation made their way into the poem. God just gave me a vision for what a relationship with a non-Christian man that I had been attracted to would look like, and suddenly attraction dissipated with His statement that “you were made for more than that [kind of relationship],” because when he showed me what More looked like, I wanted that. No competition.
That poem was more about a lot of little, quietly sown moments that would happen after 5 hours of sitting on the couch in prayer, worship and Bible reading. If the first poem was a loaf of manna dropped from heaven, the second one was more like crumbs collected a piece at a time until I had a loaf.
The second time I shared that poem, the finished poem, I knew that God was done with it. I was happy with it, which is no small feat. It felt complete. I knew that He had humbled me. I knew that God had redeemed that poem. He taught me “I’m going to take you there slowly. But I’m going to be creating the opportunities, so you don’t need to worry about “staying relevant.” Don’t run ahead of me. I am going to pace you so you run your race well and stay humble.”
So yeah, I guess since then, my next pieces of advice for writers:
Wait on the Lord
Don’t run ahead of Him
If he hasn’t released you from it, complete it– no matter how hard. You will be glad. I promise
The process of writing an poem may look different each time. The communion poem feels no less spirit-filled than Waiting Rooms, but part of me wondered “if it was the spirit, shouldn’t it come easier?” But God wanted to teach me a lesson in the second poem as a writer…that sometimes it’s hard, but it’s worth it. Thankfully, by grace, He has made my third spoken word flow out like honey though 🙂