‘It must be like standing there naked,’ someone commented.
As I tried to banish that horrifying image from my mind, I realised how apt it was. If this group had chosen one of my novels instead, perhaps I would not have felt so exposed and vulnerable. After all, authors can hide in novels. And authors can refuse to take any blame for their characters’ beliefs and actions, because we know those characters have minds of their own. But no, this group had chosen my book, Becoming Me, which deals with my own struggles with self-doubt, insecurity and perfectionism. Nowhere to hide this time!
While we chatted over the yummy breakfast provided, someone asked me about a related issue. I could not remember, however, whether I had mentioned it in Becoming Me or in my earlier memoir, Soul Friend.
‘Oh, it’s definitely in Becoming Me,’ I was told. ‘It’s in Chapter Five!’
Whoa! Now I had read my own book again, in preparing for this event, because I have written many other things since it was published. But this person seemed to know it better than I did. Perhaps they had all gone through it with a fine toothcomb. Perhaps they were all about to tear me to shreds!
Eventually, everyone sat down and I was invited to talk for a few minutes about my life and why I wrote this particular book. Then the book club organiser began asking me some questions—and gradually others chimed in as well. As our time together unfolded, I began to relax and enjoy this unique, God-given opportunity. What a privilege to be there with such a lovely, sincere group of women to discuss my own book and the deep, related issues it brought to the surface for some of them! What a privilege to see the impact a book I had written and published with some trepidation had made in the lives of some at least! How humbling to realise God had used my words to convey greater self-understanding and reveal those often hidden hurdles that can be overcome in God’s strength!
I came away from my first book club event even more convinced of the power of our words to affect others in ways we could never imagine. It’s all so completely worth it, I said to myself, as I drove home across Sydney in a daze.
May you too know in your heart today the huge worth of your writing in God’s eyes and the power it can have to impact the lives of others.
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and two non-fiction works, ‘Soul Friend’ and ‘Becoming Me’. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.