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Thursday, March 24, 2016

God's Two Incompatible Tasks

Her hands shake. Black, swollen eyes are covered by hurried strokes of makeup, and I worry she’s been beaten. I ask. She says, ‘God told me to write. Then He gives me four kids and a husband who doesn’t earn enough for me to stay home. I’ve no time to write.’ It rips her heart into six pieces.

At the same conference, I discuss the problem with a man. His arms are crossed, and his fingers work as if squeezing a stress ball. ‘If I don’t write, I die. But I can’t get a moment to myself.’ He hunches over and his face contorts. He cries.

These are writers. They care little for being published, for fame, for perceived money. They must write. But there is no time to set aside.


We’re in trenches. This is war. 

We can’t be normal writers. No one will give us time to write, so we take it from the day’s hands like an open knife from a toddler. When we do, fifteen minutes opens like sunshine through a misty morning. We snatch our laptop and write. Five sentences, and it carries us through to our next fix. 

Our families are our life. They are the few humans who try to understand us. So we bask in the love of our people. Quality minutes. Quality hours. And when they lay their heads down on pillows, we write as if Satan were on our heels and the click of the keyboard is the shield that keeps the devil from ripping our hearts out.

While other writers suffer from writer’s block and low energy and broken self-esteem, we suffer from fits of jealousy that someday we might have battles so time consuming ourselves. God reminds us it’s all wasted emotion, and we wonder what our characters would do when as depressed and frustrated as we are, because our characters are heroes. We listen to our imaginary friends and we take their advice, because it is good advice. They read their Bibles more than we do, so they know…

And our phones are connected to social media 100% of the time, because publishers and God want us to talk about our adventures, and we do, and we answer our fans and their questions, but we do it in the bathroom (don’t judge), or walking across the street (walk around us, please), but never driving, because we’re not stupid.

We’re not locked away in a study typing all day, and we’re doing all we can to not destroy our family’s lives by writing—but we know this is God’s calling. And we're learning that God has not abandoned us by giving us two incompatible tasks—life and writing—but we're learning our writing reflects life. Because we’re living our lives to the fullest. And one day, despite swollen eyes and stressed bodies and fragile minds, we wake up, look at our lives, and realize we have become a spokesperson for our God.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho.


  1. We will never regret the time given to our families and even though the wretched struggle you are speaking of exists in mine and many other working people's lives, I am trusting God to take whatever I offer up to Him from my pen an use it for His purpose. Publication? Maybe not. His words from my pen for His glory. It's taken me 30 years to get to this place. Thirty years of scribbling, dreaming and fighting to find that blissful moment when I can shut out the world and just write without any plan except that it is for God.

    1. Bless you, Linda! Thanks for sharing. Keep writing your heart!

  2. What a fabulous piece, Peter! I'm on deadline, in the trenches right now (why else would I have time to comment on blogs? ;) ) But what you said about "...we’re doing all we can to not destroy our family’s lives by writing—but we know this is God’s calling..." THAT is the awful struggle. My poor husband is living on carryout. My sisters are picking up the slack visiting our elderly mom in my place. My grandkids won't get anything in the mail from us for Easter. My friends think I'm ignoring them. Torn in a million different directions, but the deadline can't wait most of all. The tyranny of the urgent at work. :( At this point in the process with every book (this one is #30) I wonder if I can do this again. But He keeps calling me to do it. So I write... And pick up the pieces later.

    1. Tyranny of the urgent...lovely. Lovely.

  3. It's so true, Peter. I'm fortunate to have gotten the call when my nest was emptied. Still, there is a house to clean and a husband to tend to. Even when a spouse supports your writing, they don't understand what it takes to get into the story world. You have to mentally leave this place. And the dust. And the dirty dishes. And the laundry. Until the deadline is met, or the story in on paper. You can't live in two places. The caveat is, if this is God's will, He will keep the pieces together.

    1. I know, right? Ohhh, they're sitting down to write! A captive audience!


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