Sunday, February 03, 2013

Recognizing our Gifts Ruth Smith Meyer

“Why didn’t I start my writing career 30 or 40 years ago,” I often wonder.
When I was only five, my older sister practiced teaching skills on me, her only pupil.  Before I started school, she had taken me through the second grade reader and math book.  One day she gave me a list of topics to choose one on which I was to write an essay.  I had no idea what an essay was.  When I cried, my mother stepped in and told my sister I was too young to do that. 
She just moved her “classroom” upstairs then told me “An essay is just a story, so choose a topic and write about it.”  I felt I had no choice, so I wrote a short story.  I don’t remember how long it was or what I put in it, but there was a sense of elation that accompanied the achievement.   From that time on, the idea of writing stories appealed to me.   Throughout school, English was my favorite topic and I loved the opportunities that gave me to compose stories, letters and descriptive paragraphs. Perhaps today, young people are more often encouraged to explore the possibilities in their strengths, but in a small one-room school such as I attended there wasn’t much career guidance offered.    
To satisfy my urge to put pen to paper, as a teenager I wrote monthly, long epistles to thirty-five pen-pals, I began to write for church newsletters, I wrote poetry and opinion pieces.  I still remember, when I was quite young, finally getting the courage to send a poem to a magazine.  Much to my surprise, it was not only accepted and published—they sent a cheque!  I had thought I might have to pay them to publish it—that’s how naïve I was at the time.  Can you imagine? 
Over the years I wrote articles for weekly newspapers, many letters to the editor in larger city daily papers.  As part of my job, I wrote a weekly column for four weekly newspapers for quite a few years, and still I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I was just doing what I enjoyed doing. I felt lucky to find places to share my writing and didn’t even think of looking for publishers who would pay.
It was after the death of my first husband that Brenda Lundy, one of the organizers of God Uses Ink who went to my son’s church and who had seen some of my writing, suggested to him that I should attend one of their conferences.  The following year, I attended the first WRITE! Canada Conference.   
It was during those three busy, informative and inspiring days that I suddenly recognized that I had indeed started being a writer even more than forty years ago. What I needed to do was recognize it, nurture and develop it. I came home from that conference ready to at least hesitantly call myself a writer.
 Isn’t that the way it is in life?  We don’t always recognize our gifts.  Sometimes we realize we enjoy a certain activity but we don’t think about how that could be developed into a career or service opportunity. It often takes someone else to point it out to us and encourage us to use that gift. Brenda Lundy and The Word Guild did that for me.  
The Word Guild has helped many people do just that.  As members we can each encourage those unrecognized writers around us.  Whether published in small or large circulations, whether writing has been done for a circle of friends or the larger public, whether it’s journals that have been written or full length books, talents can be used to help, encourage, challenge and enlighten others.  Most of all there is joy in allowing God to work through us. Write on!

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Great story, Ruth -- your childhood experiences of being in your older sister's "class"!
Our youngest son was reading and writing and counting well before he went to school, as his older brothers practiced on him. From the age of four he was clear in his mind he wanted to be a teacher; he's now in his 16th year of teaching.
However I, like you, was writing long before being convinced that I was a writer. Also, other areas of gifts and calling in my life were seen by others, before I was certain of them myself.
Whether we arrive at an early dawn of certainty or walk a path of gradual discovery (career, service, etc.), thank God He gets us there according to His purpose and grace as we trust and follow His leading!
Thank you for the inspiration.

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