Writing What I Know

Sometimes I have wondered why God sent me overseas for so many years, then brought me back.  I spent so much time studying and adapting to different cultures, I learned a new language, I was ready to give my life to overseas missions.

Then my health problems brought my whole family back to America.  As far as we can tell, back to stay. I would be lying to say I haven't wondered why.  So many people are not willing to go.  We were willing, so why keep us here?

God does work in mysterious ways, and some questions will never get answers until heaven (and by then likely they won't matter anymore anyway!).  Then again, sometimes God lets us see glimpses of the answers here in this life.

I think my glimpse has come in the form of a series on human trafficking. The setting is Kolkata, a place I've visited twice, next to Bangladesh, where I lived for 2 years.  Writing it was like going back for a visit.  And the main character's experiences--being young, idealistic and desperately wanting to do something of significance--all of that was written more from memory than imagination.

They usually only do this when you get married, but I couldn't miss out on the fun!

They (whoever they are) say you should write about what you know.  I did.  I wrote about a girl who appears competent and confident but is really insecure, and wants to make a difference to show herself and God that she is worthwhile.  I wrote about arriving into a world that has too much evil, too many orphans, too many trapped women, and the painful realization that she cannot save the world, no matter how much she cares.

And I wrote about learning that worth does not come from what we do for the Lord, but from who we are in the Lord, and His value of us is based on the extent of His love, not the extent of our abilities or achievements.

I'm certain that my years in missions were not for the sole purpose of being able to write a good book, but I see that being able to write from memory, from real experiences and thoughts and feelings, creates a much more powerful essence than I could have created from research.

Shanty town, Bangladesh

So all that to say, those nebulous "they" people were right.  Writing about what you know is more powerful. Who knows?  Maybe some young woman will read my book, and God will use it to call her to overseas work.  Maybe my book will result in women being rescued that I myself could never have reached.  It's just a glimpse, but that would be a good answer to the question of why God sent me there, then brought me back.  I know it's not the whole answer, but it is enough of an answer to remind me to trust Him with the rest of the question.

And He alone knows what He plans for the future, so I might as well stop trying to figure it all out and just let Him be in charge.  He does so much of a better job at it than I do, anyway.

So I shall continue to write what I know, and let God use it however He will.

What do you know? What have you experienced that affects your writing? What lessons have you learned that you want to share with the world?


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