When I started writing this blog post, I was sitting by myself on the last day of a Christian writers conference in Colorado. The previous three days had been filled with workshops on writing and marketing, one-on-one appointments with publishers and agents, worship sessions, and chatting with new acquaintances. Like most conferences I’ve attended, there were ups and downs as my writing was sometimes praised and sometimes criticized. I was tired that day, and I was depressed.
One of the challenges I had been given during the week was to rewrite the bio on my website—the “about the author” piece that allows readers to get to know the real person behind the site. I have two websites, one to promote my new book (not yet in print) and one to promote my previous writings. I’ve kept the two websites separate on purpose. Nowhere on my new website (this website) is there a link to my other site. I never talk about my other books or writing credits, and my bio consists of a short paragraph which says very little beyond my limited qualifications to write the new book.
I had even asked several people for advice on whether I should publish my new book under a pseudonym (a fake name) or just my initials (J. L. Ruth) so people wouldn’t know I was the author of three books which were self-published, had few sales, and received only a handful of reviews (including a one-star review for my novel which begins, “This is the most poorly written novel I have ever read”). I was wondering if I should start fresh and reinvent myself, ignoring the twenty years I had already put into trying to be a professional writer.
As I tried to rewrite my bio, starting and discarding seven or eight drafts, I began to feel very small and insecure. What could I say about myself? I could list the things I used to be: a trial and appellate attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office (which I left 26 years ago); a staff attorney for the Department of Veterans Affairs (which I left 23 years ago); an adjunct college professor teaching criminal justice classes (which I left 17 years ago). I could include a long list of part-time, short-term volunteer positions I held during the years I was primarily a stay-at-home mom. But “mostly stay-at-home mom” didn’t sound very impressive, and now that my children are both adults, I can’t even claim that title.
It occurred to me, though, that the story of my life is what it is, no matter how hard I try to dress it up or hide it away. More importantly, I am not the author of my life’s story. God is.
In Psalm 139:16, David proclaims, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” What David realized about his own life is true of mine as well. God is the author of my life’s story. I’ve made my own choices along the way, some good and some not so good, and I have to live with the consequences of those decisions. But God has had his hand in it the whole time. Because I am his, my story is not about failure, but about purpose, even if I don’t always see it that way.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
My story isn’t over yet. Whether it continues on its current path or takes a turn for the better or the worse, I need to trust God to work out the story according to his plan. One of the things I learned at the conference is to “take the next best step.” Maybe I’ll start by finally rewriting my bio.
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Stories are a metaphor for life. That's a deep way of saying we can learn life lessons from stories we read or watch on stage or on big or small screens. When viewed through a Christian worldview, even secular films and books can tell us something about our Christian walk. Here you will find a collection of blog posts with lessons I have learned from stories. I hope you enjoy them!