Friday, November 23, 2012
I Was Made for This - M. Laycock
I was made for this - to "write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness."
The journey to accomplish that calling began in an attic in my father's house where I wrote short stories and poems for my dolls. They didn't complain so I kept it up. Then, at the age of eleven an aunt gave me a copy of Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery and I realized that you could call yourself a writer. I determined in my heart that someday that's what I would be.
My teachers encouraged me and in grade eleven I saw my name attached to a piece of writing in a book for the first time. But in grade twelve my favourite teacher said, "If you don't have something of value to say, don't you dare write." She would have been horrified to learn that her words made me stop writing for some time.
Although I had received a lot of praise for my writing in school, I had huge self-esteem issues. I did not believe I could possibly have anything of value to say to anyone, so, other than the assignments I had to do for school, I stopped writing.
The root of this low self esteem came from an incident when I was about 8 years old, when I was sexually molested by a neighbour. That one incident coloured everything that happened in my life. It became the pivot on which everything else turned and affected how I saw myself and my world. It even affected how I saw God. Because of that one dark incident I believed that I could not be accepted or loved by anyone, most especially God. I believed I was unworthy and of no value to anyone.
But I went off to university and began to study to be a journalist. I discovered that though I wanted to write, journalism was not for me. I did not have the aggression needed, nor did I believe I could ever be good enough to succeed in that profession, (or any other). So after the second year, I left university and ended up in Alaska, helping some friends build a cabin in the wilderness. I wandered the north, in Alaska and the Yukon and finally settled in Dawson City.
It was there, while surviving -60 degree temperatures, that I sat by my wood stove and began to write my first novel. It was a fantasy about talking ravens and it has never been published, thank goodness - but as the days and weeks went by I was caught up in the story and realized writing was of supreme importance to me. It was my way of escape when I needed one, my way of dealing with the world. When I was lonely, I wrote. When someone hurt me, I wrote. When I believed my life had no purpose, no direction, I wrote. I told myself that everything was okay, that living day to day was the way to go. And I wrote. Of course I never showed any of my writing to anyone else because I believed no one else would want to read it. And I was very unhappy. In fact, though I would not admit it, I was miserable. The writing was only a band-aid, not a solution to the inner emptiness I felt.
But God had a plan and a purpose. I met a young man who was to become my husband. We built a log house on the Klondike River and settled into a lifestyle of self-indulgence until one day when death came and stood on our doorstep. About a month before our wedding my husband’s best friend committed suicide. The day we were married, a neighbour’s baby went missing and was assumed drowned in the river. Then, a few months after our wedding, another friend shot himself and two others died in accidents. Death became a very real presence in our lives.
We tried to escape it but everywhere we went it seemed death had gone before us. As God kept us in turmoil, my husband began asking questions – what’s life all about? What happens when we die? Is there a God? To find the answers, he began meeting with the missionary pastor who had performed our wedding ceremony. Then he decided to start going to church.
I saw this as a potential crisis in my life. I thought I knew all about the “religion game” and I didn’t want any part of it. Deep down I believed I wasn’t good enough for God, so I convinced myself he did not exist. But Spence challenged me to try to articulate what I did believe. Was God some kind of force out there in the galaxies? What was he like? And what did he have to do with me?
One Sunday morning Spence got up and suggested we get ready for church. I told him I was going to visit my friend Brenda who lived 150 miles away - a perfect excuse to not go to church. As I packed to go that morning I came across a small book someone had given me and it fell open to the words, “Why do you resist me, who flows through all things?” I tossed the book to the floor and headed down the road to Mayo. I was determined not to think about spiritual things, but the harder I tried, the more all those questions kept spinning around in my head.
In frustration, I pulled into a lookout spot on the Stewart River and started talking to God. I knew I needed forgiveness. I’d heard enough of the sermons in that tiny mission church to know I had done things in my life that were against God’s law, against the people around me, and even against myself. So I asked God to forgive me. I admitted I was confused and challenged Him to do something to prove He existed.
Then I thought, this is really crazy. Here I am talking to a God I don’t really believe exists. If he is out there he must think we humans are pretty humorous. Then something happened that is still a mystery to me. I “heard”, though the words were not audible – “Yes, you are humorous but I love you anyway.”
At that point I thought I was going crazy. Now I was hearing voices! So I put my foot down on the accelerator of my truck and literally almost flew to my friend’s house. All we talked about that weekend was spiritual things. But by the time I headed home I had decided I wanted nothing to do with Christianity and I’d just have to hope that Spence’s involvement in church wouldn’t tear our marriage apart.
Sometime later, I woke up one morning and was very ill. Then I sat down and ate a big breakfast. The next day was the same, and the day after that. I confided in a friend that I had "this strange flu." The words "morning sickness" seemed to make sense but I knew it could not be. I had not told anyone, but the first desire of my heart was to have a baby. I think I saw it as yet another way to feel loved and at peace. All my friends were having children and my biological clock was sounding alarms.
But Spence and I had been together for five years by this time and no babies had happened. So we decided to apply to adopt a child and we were told we should have tests done to determine why we had not been able to conceive. So we had done that, at Shaunessy hospital in Vancouver. The doctors told us it was highly unlikely that we would conceive a child together, so we had decided to pursue the adoption process.
But that strange flu did not go away. Then one morning, as I was emptying my stomach I realized that I was indeed pregnant. And at that moment I realized God had indeed done something. He had given me the desire of my heart – a child. She was born on Nov. 30th, 1982. (do the math - she will be 30 on the 30th of this month. :)
It was about that same time that the pastor in that tiny mission church asked if there was anyone in the congregation who would like to commit his life to Christ. I glanced at Spence but he didn’t move, so I didn’t either. But I started to smile because I realized that I had already done that. When Spence shook Jack’s hand at the door he told him he had decided to “give Jesus a try.” I nodded and said, “yeah, me too.” Jack began to weep. We were both puzzled at that. What was the big deal?
As the days and weeks went by I began to realize what the big deal was. I felt a kind of lightness – a sense of peace and freedom and joy that I had never known could be possible. It was spring time in the Yukon and I wrote this short little poem to try and express it.
FIRST YUKON SPRING
Green so fills my eyes
alive and swelling
out of winter grey and white
in fields and ditches
and I wonder
was there life
before this day?
Everything around me seemed more vibrant, more intense, more full. When I realized that God did indeed love me, I wanted more than ever to know him. Spence felt the same, and we both sought Him in every way we could. Our home became a place of meeting and worship for the believers in that tiny mission church and we began to learn about who we were as Christians and children of God.
The change in our lives was so obvious people began to comment on it. Within two years we found ourselves at Briercrest Bible College where Spence studied to become a pastor. In our last year there I attended a seminar with Carol Kent called Speak Up with Confidence. I only attended because a friend talked me into it but by the time that day was over the Lord had rekindled a burning desire in me to write.
But how to begin? I knew nothing about manuscript preparation, or submission guidelines or any other essential information that would help me break into print. But God supplied. In the first week in our new home my husband met with the previous pastor of our new church. Pastor Don laid out a long list of responsibilities. He had just stood up to go when he turned back and said, "Oh and I almost forgot, you have to write a weekly column for the paper and it's due tomorrow."
My husband came home with his head swimming, overwhelmed by all the responsibilities, and asked if I could "put something together for the paper." I wrote my first devotional that night, took it down to the editor the next day and was delighted when he said it was fine. That was the beginning of my new column, The Spur, which ran in that paper for eight years and in another for about twelve years. That column developed into three devotional books that have travelled further than I could have dreamed possible.
It wasn't long after that I saw an advertisement for the Alberta Christian Writers' Fellowship, meeting in a small church about an hour's drive from where we lived. I was delighted to learn there was such a thing as a Christian writers' organization. As I attended their conferences and entered their contests my writing improved by leaps and bounds. I learned how to submit my work and began to have success in publishing. The encouragement of those who had been writing for some time was invaluable. I was also given the opportunity to 'give back' by serving on the executive of that organization (now InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship) for many years.
One of my greatest joys has been to receive letters and emails from readers who have turned their lives over to the Lord after reading something I'd written. It would be all too easy to think it was my inspirational writing that accomplished that but only God can change a heart. I am humbled that he has used my words to accomplish His purposes.
There have been many small steps along the way, all of them leading to God's purpose for my life, to honour and glorify Him through all I do, through all I write.
In his gracious mercy He has allowed me to keep writing, and used my writing to bless others. As my husband once said, it now comes from a place of strength, not weakness, because it flows from a heart that has been changed, a soul that is the home of His Holy Spirit.
Recently He took me on another journey, through the "valley of cancer." It seems outrageous to say it, but this journey has been a gift that has deepened my dependence upon Him and my understanding of true faith, true joy, and it has deepened my writing as well. I look forward to what He intends to do through these new words. (read a sample here)
I don't pretend to assume that my words will be an "everlasting" witness but I know they have already affected the lives of people in pain, people who need to know that God's deep love is for each and every one of us, no matter where we've been or what we've done or what we're going through.
And that is more than enough, because God has made it plain. I was made for this.
Abundant Rain, Marcia's devotional ebook for writers of faith is now available for Kindle at Amazon or can be downloaded in any ebook format at Smashwords.
Visit Marcia's website to learn more about her writing and speaking ministry
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