On the goodness of words (Or, how I became a writer)

On the goodness of words (Or, how I became a writer) January 14, 2014

Today I’m guest posting over at my friend (and vlogging partner) Cara’s blog for her new series “The Little Things,” on small moments that change everything. Here’s a little peak into my post. I’m hoping you’ll read a bit and join me over there…

Photo credit: Katie Veil


My brother painted a mural on my wall for my seventeenth birthday. That mural, which still remains as a testament to my teenage self,  is covered with bright pink and yellow hearts and the words of John Keats and Walt Whitman.

A couple of weeks after its completion, one of my more “godly” and cute male friends in the youth group sat in my room and wondered aloud how I could have chosen Walt Whitman’s words over scripture. Wouldn’t a Psalm have been the better choice to paint on your wall? I wondered if he was right. Did that mean I loved poetry more than the Psalms? What was wrong with me?

So I woke up each morning of my senior year of high school to John Keats’ exclamation, “More happy love! More happy happy love!” and mentally chastised myself for loving words too much.

I longed for God to tell me that non-biblical words could be good and important, too. But I heard no answer. And I pushed that longing aside.

I vowed to be a missionary. I vowed to give myself to a life God would love.


In college my major changed from Missions to English. It happened slow. I found myself in the English department, happy and still inwardly making plans for a bigger life of Mission work. I’d just read the Classics first. And I’d study a little of the early 20th Century Feminist writers. It would be okay.

My requirements for graduation included “An Introduction to Creative Writing.” My professor, Dr. Fink, was the first living poet I’d ever met.

The second week in my creative writing course, I turned in a poem. I’d been writing poems in journals all my life, but never once, outside of middle school assignments, had I handed them over to another’s eyes. And this one was read and discussed by all twelve members of my class. After I survived that workshop, I did it again and again and again.

I loved and dreaded every part of giving my poems away. And I knew enough of God to know that often God came to me in the same way: in love and dread, in joy and heavy reality.

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