“There are books in you,” she told me.
This was how she broke the silence as she swept the tile floor.
Then her broom stopped. We stood across from one another in the second-floor kitchen. I’d just met her five minutes earlier and now she was staring me down.
The room was bright white; sun gleamed off the now-clean stovetop. Over her shoulder, I could see palm trees and a neon Burger King sign glowing through the window.
“Yes, in the name of Jesus. Best sellers. There are books of words in you that you’ve been too scared to write down,” she said. I stopped typing.
What she couldn’t have possibly known is that for the past 15 months, I’ve made my living as a writer. I pay the rent by putting words on the page for other people. It’s why I sat in that kitchen – and it’s why I’m sitting in this coffee shop now, a thousand miles from home.
Since graduation, I’ve fed and clothed myself and others by telling stories that aren’t my own.
“Look in my eyes,” she said. She was talking to me like my grandmother does. “I don’t know you. But I know you’re a writer. I know you have been listening to lies. And you can’t do that any more.”
I had to force myself to look at her. She went on. “Satan’s spoken to you so loudly and for so long you can’t even hear the Truth anymore.”
We’d never met a day in our lives but in that kitchen she saw me.
Somehow she overheard the lies that were taking up space in my heart and taking the fight out of me: you’ve got nothing good to say; you have nothing of value to offer; your voice would be nothing except white noise, adding to the din.
But by the time she crossed the kitchen tiles to pray truth over me, it was the third time that week Jesus had whispered it into my heart. I already knew what he wanted me to hear:
You want to write a beautiful prayer?
Daughter, don’t wait any longer to tell your story. Pour your words out like oil on my feet. I know it feels like a risk to give me your gift but please know it is so precious to me. Your words can be your unconventional offering – poured out undignified and unashamed even in front of people who might mock the way you praise me.
You bear my image: you were created to create. My power is made perfect in your weakness. It’s no mistake that I chose to display my glory in the midst of your fragility. And when I set you on fire – there will be no doubt about who made you burn.