The two times I’ve been to Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (it’s an amazing conference, but why DOES the title have to be so long?) I’ve been surprised at myself, at the way I come alive there talking to people. I’ve been advised to network with others at the conference, but I’m surprised because I don’t do it out of “ought to” but because I love it; I love talking to as many people at the conference as I can.
At first glance, it makes little sense. This is the same girl who was habitually late on purpose to Sunday School just so she wouldn’t have to do small talk with people (she loved!). This girl has to wrack her brain to keep a conversation going with an acquaintance. This one is completely exhausted after attending a Christmas party where she has to spend her time milling around chatting with one small group of girls after another, awkwardly not knowing when to excuse herself to go get another sprinkled cookie. I’m not shy, at least not like I was in fourth grade, and I love to be with my friends, but I am worn out in the end by many social situations, and I’d much rather be with two or three close friends than in a group.
Why did this introverted girl suddenly turn extrovert?
After reflecting, I think I know the main reason why, besides the fact that the people at a writing conference are for the most part my kindred spirits. It’s because I know exactly what to talk about with these people, and it’s almost the same subject with every person I meet there: What do you write? What are you working on? If I know the answer to those questions, the next questions are easy: Have you met with anybody? How have your classes been? And off we go.
You might think these same conversations would get boring, but they were absolutely fascinating to me. Each of the people there had a slightly different message from God, told from his or her own perspective, to be used in a unique way. Most weren’t quite sure how God would use what He had given, but they were there because they were hopeful. Even if they had already published, they were hopeful they could learn more, reach more people, or be more effective at their craft. How could I not love to hear each of these God stories, possibly fooling others into thinking I am extrovert? How could I not in turn be passionate to talk about the vision I feel God has given me for writing? After all, I believe it’s His story, not mine.
Many who were at the conference mentioned that a highlight was when Eva Marie Everson had all 400 of us stand in a circle around the room and compared us to Nehemiah’s wall around Jerusalem. If one of us dropped out of writing, there would be a crack in the wall, a hole that an enemy could use to his advantage. Each of us is different and each of us will tell a different story about what we’re writing, but we’re all important if we follow God’s leading and let Him use us where He wants to use us.
This is true not only for the different genres and niches in writing but for those outside of the writing field as well. In my life, besides the normal roles of daughter, wife, mother, etc., I have had the roles of teacher, coach, and writer. This is where God has given me ability, and how I pray He uses me. I think I can safely say I will never be a lawyer, doctor, construction worker, grocery store clerk, or masseuse. God has given me the passions and talents I need to do what He wants me to do. Now all I have to do is be obedient and do what He asks of me. My place in the wall is not more or less important than anyone else’s, no matter how it appears on the surface, and neither is yours. (See I Cor. 12 for another metaphor on the same subject if you need more of a reminder of this, and I’ve also written about this in another way here.)
So go stand in your place in the wall and fill the gap that would be left if you didn’t do what God called you to do. Use your unique talents and gifts so more of God’s beautiful story can be told, even to introverts like me.