Monday, May 14, 2012

Listening to our ‘deep gladness’

At the moment, I find myself at something of a crossroads. I have been writing for around eight years now and have had five novels published in that time. I have also completed a sixth and submitted it to a publisher. Last year, I also completed my first non-fiction work and am in the process of deciding where to direct it for possible publication. And more recently, I have re-edited over a hundred of my blogs, in the hope that at some future date they will be published in book form. I have enjoyed it all. But what next for me in my writing journey?

Common sense would tell me I should apply myself to those rough outlines and first chapters of three further novels waiting on my computer. I am not getting any younger (!)—and who else is going to write them if I don’t? Sure there will be many other novels written in the years ahead, but they won’t have my characters in them or the many ideas running around in my head right now! I think I could complete each of these novels—but for me, the bottom line is whether this is actually what God wants me to do.
So how do I discover that? The whole picture becomes a little more complex too when I realise afresh how much I enjoy mentoring other women in their walk with God--particularly other authors. Before I began writing, I was part of a local church ministry team. I loved that role and still find myself wanting to care for others in the way I did then. How is this all meant to fit together in my life, now I have reached this ‘mini-crossroads’ point again?

Well, first and foremost, I take time to pray—and listen to God. I have learnt not to make quick decisions but to ‘hasten slowly’, asking God all the while if I am on the right course for my life and in my writing. I read God’s word and journal about that. I know God can speak so clearly through it to me—in fact, my initial call to write came as I was reading some verses from Isaiah 42. I talk the matter over with those close to me. And then I watch as circumstances unfold in my life under God’s hand. By that, I mean I may take the step of submitting a manuscript to a publisher. If it is accepted, I am grateful, but if it is rejected then I accept that too. I have asked God to lead and I need to trust God is actually doing that and will show me the road ahead in these practical ways.
But there is something else I try to do as well—and that is to listen my own self! I am learning to recognise what energises me the most and gives me great joy and fulfilment—or, as the American author Frederick Buechner puts it, to recognise the place where my ‘deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. I also remember Psalm 37:4 where David writes:
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
 
And as I do, I move forward step by step with hope in God, aware of that ‘deep gladness’ that tells me I’m on the right track and using my gifts well to make a difference in this world.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen grew up in Brisbane and holds an Arts degree from Queensland University.  She has also studied Education and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher and editor, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves communicating through both the written and spoken word and currently has five published novels—‘Heléna’, ‘All the Days of My Life’, ‘Laura’, ‘Jenna’ and ‘Heléna’s Legacy’.  She is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren.

11 comments:

  1. Hi Joanne. May you hear the Lord clearly! I've read all your books and love them. You have an eye for a good story. Isn't it a pity we can't double ourselves and do twice as much! May God lead you to the 'best' amongst all the 'good'. xx

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    1. Thanks, Jo, for your lovely, encouraging comments re my books and your little prayers for me to hear the Lord well and find the 'best' among the 'good'. That is exactly the challenge-so many things we could put our hand to. I do believe I have had some clear guidance since writing this blog, which is wonderful. God bless-looking forward to reading your book!

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  2. Uncertainty and doubt seem to go hand-in-hand with writing. It's interesting that they still afflict one so successful!

    I appreciate that you didn't understate how difficult it can be to divine the divine will!

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    1. Thanks for your insightful comments, Peter. I agree with you that many writers, including me, do tend to be prone to a pretty good dose of doubt and uncertainty! I wonder if it is our general introversion or sensitive natures or what? Could write a whole book about that.

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  3. Hi Jo-Anne,
    I loved the title of your post and I loved your post. Well done on achieving a great deal in just 8 years of writing. You have indeed done very well.

    I needed to hear your post today so thank you for blessing me through it. I feel rather guilty at times because there is my husband working very hard to put bread and butter on the table while his wife plays around with words and hardly makes a dollar in the process. A lot of my rewards are intangible ones - and the "deep gladness" within me that God is using me.

    So perhaps God is encouraging me through your post today to stay in track with my writing and to persevere with it? I do know that He has been assuring me through many means this morning that I am doing what He requires of me and yours was the icing on the cake. Thank you so much.
    May God continue to lead you too as you wait on Him,
    Blessings,
    Anusha

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    1. So glad you were blessed by what I wrote, Anusha. I do understand how you feel, I think--and a lot of my rewards are of the more intangible variety too. God bless you in your own journey and give you much 'deep gladness'!

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  4. Hello Jo-Anne, lovely to meet you on here. Eight years may not seem long looking back on it yet yo9u have achieved so much. I like that ‘deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet’.
    We can accomplish so much with fiction, and you surely have. So all you need continue to do is: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.... I believe that.
    Love and blessings. Crystal Mary Lindsey

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Crystal. And yes, I aim to keep delighting myself in the Lord for sure. That's the only way I find I can do this writing journey really. May God bless you too in your own writing journey.

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  5. Thanks for your honesty Jo-Anne. I think the crossroads you are at comes to us all often if we're truly reflecting on what we're doing and want most of all to hear God's plan for us. I'm sure He will reveal Himself to you in some beautiful way, as only He can. You've been a blessing to so many. May you be wonderfully blessed in your journey now.

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    1. I really appreciate your thoughtful and encouraging comments, Carol--thanks so much. And you were right--already God has shown me the road ahead for me at this point, I believe, in quite an unexpected way. I should not be surprised at this stage of my life at such things, but it always overwhelms me that God takes so much trouble over us and is so interested in our little lives! God bless you in your own journey.

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  6. Yay, Jo-Anne, that's wonderful that you are looking ahead at God's plans for you. I love how He does things differently to how we might imagine, it's always fresh and inspiring then!
    I really enjoyed this post as I am at this point also. There always seems like there is so much that needs to be written, I know I need to focus on my task at hand and run this race until it's finished. I've got to stop side-tracking myself with the "good" things and go for the best. I loved your line about "the deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet", that really sums it all up!

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