Thursday, November 22, 2007

Where Do You Belong? - Harris

Niche. Your place in the eco-system. A place no one else can occupy and, if you fail to fill it, something is missing from the environment. Yes, it's a biological term. But I think it applies equally well to us as writers, as Christians, as spouses, parents, in whatever role we fill in life.

It's taken me a long time to figure out where I fit in the world, what church I belong to, what kind of mother I am, and, most of all, what I am supposed to be writing. Try as I might, I couldn't fit into the evangelical church I was raised in. I tried to, really hard. But I was a square peg in a round hole.

I love liturgy. I hear Jesus in classical music. And I love taking wine and bread from the priest who bends low to provide elements to every member of the congregation: rich, poor, white, black, or First Nations. These things remind me of Jesus and his love for me - even me. I guess I was born to be an Anglican.

I had the same issues in my career. My parents thought their bright daughter should become an unmarried professional. My mother had visions of me as a missionary, no kids, no husband, no make-up. My Dad thought law or business - something that made lots of money - would be a good idea. Again, no kids, no husband, no make-up. And the generation ahead of me had decided that 'being a mum' was no longer a 'valid career' option.

But I insisted on being a 'girlie-girl' who just happened to get good marks in school. When a high school guidance counsellor, helping with my university registration, told me I should go to law school and forget about kids and a husband, I froze in fear. Not surprisingly, I never showed up at the U. of C. the following September. Instead, I took a minimum wage job and started dating a totally unsuitable young man who I must confess I really never liked that much. (He won't be offended by this statement because he now admits he never really like me either.)

By the time I was twenty, I was a housewife trying to ignore the fact that my young husband liked to hit me when he drank too much. I still loved learning, though. And I loved being a mum. So, I took my degree juggling distance studies/daycare and diapers. I still love thinking about those days I spent writing papers while dinner cooked on the stove and the kids played on the floor beside me!

But, by my thirties, the marriage was over. And I was trying to find a career.

It was clear that I had a artsy bent, but no gift for making money. And that I wanted to be a writer. But what to write? I started with business and features. Those early articles sold well, but they are devoid of passion. They cover the story, a bit coldly though.

It was only that I accepted that Christ had a plan - better than one I could think up - that I really became able to fill my niche in the world. And, in my opinion, my writing has improved immensely. It's no longer cold. It's no longer uncommitted. It's something God can use. And accepting the 'niche' God has for me has allowed me to settle into a new marriage - this time with both feet inside the door. No need for any more quick escapes. And I have time to make a pot of tea and sit down for a chat when the kids want to talk. And, believe or not, my parents say they are proud of me.

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