My Journey as a Writer
"The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify."
- John 15:26b, 27a -
- John 15:26b, 27a -
"One pen can change the world," the young girl, Malala, said with conviction as she advocated for education.
I watched the youtube video in awe. At a young age, this girl authored the book, I Am Malala and knew with wisdom the power of the pen.
One day, we visited a prayer room in a hospital. My husband said he wanted to go out because he couldn't breathe. I thought the room was stuffy, but as soon as I passed by where he stood, I felt a strange presence. A weeping soul, that of a woman's, sat where he stood. Trapped in that little chapel, her spirit didn't know what to do. As I rode the car, God prompted me to pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy for the repose of the soul of that woman. I sensed a deep sorrow in her. At the twilight of her life, she experienced a crisis in her faith. She doubted God and His promises. At the fourth decade, I sensed her immense gratitude. God, in His mercy, had released her from the prayer room and welcomed her to the other side of the world.
I finished the chaplet prayer in thanksgiving and gratitude and urged the woman to keep us in her prayers, we who are still pilgrims on earth.
I knew phenomenon such as this could happen because someone wrote about it. The Diary of Sr. Faustina revealed that some souls spend their purgatory here on earth. They are trapped in a certain place, time or event where they needed purification. For that woman, it was a prayer room devoid of the Holy Presence of the Tabernacle. This aggravated her great longing and thirst for God which caused her soul immense suffering. While on earth, she had neglected her faith, although she led a good and decent life. There, God made her feel how His Heart thirsted for her love but she did not open her door to welcome Him. So the door of that chapel locked her in. There she had to suffer the pain of love that longed to embrace Love Himself.
As a writer, I have to be responsible for what I write. Ideas can inspire someone into action: bad ideas into gruesome action and good ideas into noble deeds.
I recalled that one occasion where I was in a strange area. I wanted to hear mass, and this chapel appeared in Google maps as just within walking distance from where we were staying. The landmark was a bank. So I walked and trusted my gut, but it led me to a street that made it hard for me to see the sign of the landmark. I saw it through the reflection of the building across the street.
I thought that was strange. I felt like a lost pilgrim looking for God. He was just right there beside me, so near yet I missed Him and only saw Him through a mirror from afar.
"You are to be that mirror for those who are having trouble seeing Him even when He is already so near," my angel said.
"Through your pen. Just as God used Sr. Faustina to testify about God's mercy, so shall you. Everyone is called to testify: some, through the spoken word while others, through the written word and all, through their lives. In small or greats ways, simple or grand, you are called to testify."
All the more, the gravity of the call as a writer weighed down upon me.
What if I point them to the wrong direction? Because as I approached the door and asked for the chapel, the man said it was the wrong branch of the bank. There was another one down the road. So I walked further down the road and again, failed to see the sign at the outset, for it was up so high. And when I did, I realized it was still the wrong branch. Finally, a man directed me to a street, two blocks away from where we resided, and there was the chapel, hidden and obscure. Had I followed the google maps and not my instinct, I wouldn't have missed it. But because I turned to the wrong street and different route from what I initially planned using the map, I missed the sign that was only visible from the other route.
Apparently, my gut instinct is not always reliable. I am prone to error.
"People should not believe all that they read, hook line and sinker," my angel said. "It needs to be confirmed and affirmed by another; at least from three sources, if of lesser authority but one will suffice, if of great authority in the given subject. Only then will your content be found reliable and credible. No matter how responsible a writer you are, being human, you are still prone to error and mistakes. It is the responsibility of the reader to seek for the truth. And he who seeks with a pure heart will eventually find the truth."
How Can I Purify My Intentions?
In the past, I have approached writing as a means to make a living.
God rebuked me.
"You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do. Write not to make a living. Write to give life and make life worth living. Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees. Do not dilute your works with thoughts of profitability and marketability. I am the Lord, your God. Do not have other gods before me. Do not be afraid to become a voice in the wilderness. Listen to me and announce the good news to my people.
Write not to make a living.
Write to give life and make life worth living.
Do not be concerned about the bread. I can multiply them. Nor the fish. I can feed 5,000. Be concerned about doing My Will. Hypocrisy is the yeast of the Pharisees. They turned the law into their favor. They made the law to suit their base desires. Do not be one of them. Be pure in your motivations. Be honest in your endeavors.
Marketing and promotion are important tools, but there is a more effective way.”
“What is the better way? Please show me, Lord.”
“Market yourself using testimonials of people I've touched and healed and whose lives I've changed through you.
“But I have not achieved that level yet. What else can I do?”
“Answer people's needs. What do they need? Ask them. Engage them.”
What Do People Need That I Can Give?
Last night I had a conversation with a friend. I related to her my story of how I've landed in this writing ministry and how God had unfolded His plan one petal at a time. She had asked, "How long are your blog articles?"
"It varies. The weekly blogs are between 1,000-3,000 words while the devotionals are much shorter, around 400-600 words."
"How do you do that?"
I laughed. "I don't know. If it were just me, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Obviously, I receive much help from God. It's exciting and at the same time scary; it's like an adventure."
"I wonder what God's ultimate plan and purpose for me?" she said. "I know I am in the right type of work but somehow, deep within I also know that I am not yet in the right place."
I too wondered.
Many navigate through life without knowing where they're heading. Some have vague ideas. Others, none at all.
Perhaps people want some map or direction on how to navigate this life. Or maybe just a companion so the journey does not become too scary when one gets lost.
Prayer had always been my guide. Yet, I sensed that different types of prayers give different results.
In the past, as a naive Christian, I thought of prayer as a magic lamp where you rub it and the genie, that is God, comes out and asks me what I want and He grants it to me according to His whims.
Now, more and more, I have been asking Him for what He wants. And the more He tells me His wish and I fulfill it, the more I get my heart's desires even without me asking for it.
It's a great mystery.
"Because your prayers can only fly to heaven on the wings of love, praise, adoration, and thanksgiving," my angel said. "Those who approach God with only petitions on their lips will rarely get through the filter of love. Their prayers of supplication uttered in despair, anger, vengeance, pain, and doubt will chain it to the earth. Laden with all the negative emotions, it remains on earth unanswered and never reaches the throne of the Most High. So someone who knows the secret of prayer can aid them in their distress, someone who utters prayers lifted in the spirit of thanksgiving, love, and adoration can penetrate heaven for them. That is where having companions on this journey will benefit the one who is in darkness."
As if in confirmation, I chanced on these words from Psalm 20:4:
"May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose."
And then again in Psalm 37:4
"Take delight in the LORD, and he will grant you your heart’s requests."
"That is where you testify. Share them the map on how to navigate this life. Some may be traveling the same road that you tread, but others may be going in a different direction. It doesn't matter. Like a GPS, prayer is the navigational system that they need. As long as they remain connected to the system, they will not be lost. What they need is your testimony that will assure them that the system is reliable for as long as they know how to use it."
This reminded me of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."
Indeed, I can only speak about things I have personally experienced myself. This makes my message unique—as unique as my DNA.
Unique Writers With Unique Messages.
We are indeed a unique group of people. We have a unique message that only we can deliver. That message stems out of the creative spirit bestowed upon us. Because of our unique background and experiences, NO ONE ELSE can deliver it the way we can. So there is no reason to fear that another writer will steal my work and succeed at it. Nor can I steal someone else's work and deliver the message right. Whatever message it is that we need to decode within us only we can do so. He encoded it in us. These creative ideas need to come out of our consciousness. Most of the time it is during moments of silence, of deep self-awareness, in prayer, meditation, and contemplation that we can fathom it.
Creative Ideas, Guidance and Inspirations.
I recalled that day when I prayed for inspiration for my logo. God used the scripture for the day to answer my prayer:
In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf!
I cried in gratitude and thanked God for the logo. It affirmed all my previous inspirations with this powerful symbolism.
The dove represents the Holy Spirit, the Lord God who resides in me and will speak through me. For Noah, the dove was also the bearer of Good News that the water had receded and there is life form on the surface of the earth. It was a symbol of hope. The Lord inspired me to put a pen on the tip of the olive branch to represent writings that give hope.
At that moment I prayed:
"Let me be a bearer of good news, Lord. Let my writings fill me with hope and give people hope. And let the message come from the Holy Spirit."
Since then, I’ve been receiving guidance from Him.
I felt like the deaf and mute man whom Jesus touched in Mark 7:34:
Then He looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.
Jesus had been urging me to write in plain and simple terms. I knew the words came from Him because it would evoke a response from the reader for whom He sent it.
Nothing else can be more palatable than His words. It is true. His words are sweet as honey. We keep wanting for more. Only He can satiate our deepest longings. Only He can fulfill our deepest needs.
Where else do we go? He alone has everlasting life. That's what we all end up saying. Truly, once we've caught a glimpse of the happiness found in doing His will, everything else fades into obscurity.
In these moments, I feel deeply grateful and can only say, "Thank You for calling me to become one of Your pens. I hope you find me worthy and not blotting."
"For as long as you give your all, you will be worthy of Him."
"No reservations," my angel confirmed.
When I went to mass and received Jesus in communion, it suddenly hit me, and I cried, "My Lord, You have surrendered to me first and continue to surrender! During communion, You give Yourself, Your all to me. How could I have missed that self-surrender? You deserve nothing less from me, You who gave Your all, who loved me first."
"As long as you surrender your all to Him, He can use you in small and mighty ways," my angel confirmed. "He will give you an endless supply of pure creative ink."
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