“Wow, this made me cry in my car on lunch break. Thank you for this. I don’t feel very beautiful these days, as my medical condition is worsening. That poem is more encouraging to me than you know.”
I received this message from a reader of my blog for Christian women on Instagram. I’ve never met her in person, but she has become a friend. This sister in Christ suffers from chronic illness, and by God’s grace, she resonated with my words. Because we connected through my blog, I have been able to pray with her for healing and hope.
It’s messages like this that remind me why I love to write. It’s not about me. It’s not about the words themselves. It’s about readers. It’s good for writers to love words, but they must first love the people who make their words meaningful.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Similarly, if we are skilled in the arts of grammar and style, but have not love, our words are empty. If we want our writing to matter, we must write for our readers.
In Cedarville’s Professional Writing and Information Design Major (PWID), we talk a lot about serving our readers. As Christian writers, this call to serve carries additional weight. We write, not merely to express ourselves, but to uphold a greater reality for our readers. It can be so easy to feel lost and homesick as Christians in a fallen world. However, when Christians use their words to uphold the truth, they shine light into the shadows of this present brokenness, illuminating the way back home.
As singer/songwriter and author Andrew Peterson would say, writing for the Christian is like adorning the dark. This world is broken and unraveling–we need Christians who are willing to write words of life and hope, to humbly gather a few unraveled threads and weave them into something beautiful again .
This is our calling as Christians who write. And it is no easy calling. Often, serving our readers means dying to self, upholding the truth means being vulnerable, and adorning the dark means first knowing the darkness ourselves.
The message I received was in response to a poem I wrote about beauty. Writing this piece required that I first dwell in the darkness of insecurity, wrestling with the lies of our superficial culture. It required that I question the beauty of God’s design before finally taking hold of his promise that “those who look to him are radiant and will not be ashamed” (Psalm 34:5). It required vulnerability, for raw and honest words resonate most with fellow members of this broken world.
My message was meaningful because it was written with fellow women in mind. It required dying to self through vulnerability that others might find life. If I had not first wrestled with the longing to be beautiful, my words would have carried significantly less weight. However, experiencing this longing myself and finding real healing in God’s promises allowed me to write of these promises, making the truth tangible for my readers. This is what it means to uphold the truth. What a weighty and wonderful thing it is to be bearers of light, beckoning the broken home with poetry and prose.
Yet, we don’t only do this with poetry and prose. We also do this with ourselves. Part of loving our readers means entering their lives, becoming part of their stories. We should never be content to remain a face behind a page. Instead, may we become shoulders to cry on, hands to hold, friends to walk alongside. May we uphold the truth, not only in the way we write, but in the way we live.
What a gift it is to study professional writing at Cedarville University. In the PWID program, we explore what it means to serve our readers in practical, tangible ways. But, more than this, we see this love for others lived out through our professors and classmates. God is working within the PWID program, offering students opportunities to serve through the written word. And, when we are obedient with our writing, God loves to open doors for further impact, allowing us to step into people’s stories, bearing the light of gospel hope.
About the author
Abigail Thompson is a junior Professional Writing and Information Design Major.