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Found in Community

Sep 29 2021

A young woman sits alone in her room, the blue light of the computer screen illuminating her face. The dreams in her mind had been so bright. So vivid. And the thrill of expounding them, satisfying beyond explanation. But as her eyes revisit the words before her, doubt fills her gut. Her cheeks burn with shame and her fingers trail to a single key. Delete.

Another frantically pours out her heart into a journal. She’s longed to create music and poetry for years, but she’s only recently found the courage and space to try. What will become of it? She barely knows. She doesn’t know where to go from here, she doesn’t know if she should. Is this worship just between her and God or for others as well?

A new husband, with his eyes on the future and a passion to see others grow, toys with an idea. A book is in his heart, one detailing his journey and lessons, and he wants to bring it to life. But does he have the skill, the grit, the tenacity to write? He’s a teacher and a leader, sure. But dare he plunge into this new avenue? Dare he try?

These are snapshots of people in my life. Real people with a gift for words. I’ve discovered them as I’ve discovered myself: in community. Like-minded and like-souled, we are drawn together by calling; a people compelled by a sense of duty to bring what is birthed in the secret-place, to the public eye. It isn’t the goal, just where our stewardship has led us.

But making that jump, from secret to seen, is daunting, and there’s no one-way-fits-all to get there.

And yet I can tell you how you won’t get there; and that’s alone.

My name is Samantha. I’ve been enamoured with writing for years. In the creation of worlds and stories I find myself incredibly close to God and his Truths. It’s my worship. But it wasn’t until five years ago, that I was prompted to share my words for the first time. Right away I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I needed help. Community. So finding it, became my mission. I dipped into overseas critique groups and writing communities. I forced myself into vulnerable interactions, letting strangers read my work and accepting their feedback. Terrifying? Daunting? Yes. But I wasn’t alone.

Eventually I started a Writers Connect at Hillsong Greater West in Sydney. The two women above were among the first to join, though at first, they wouldn’t even call themselves writers. The young man reached out shortly after, wondering with excitement and anxiousness, whether he should give it all a go. Like me, they’d all been stuck in the secret place, unsure how to move forward. Unsure if they should.

But everything changed once they found one another.

After three months, the first young woman’s community challenged her to write and NOT delete; to face her fears and doubts and keep going. Now, she’s writing the sequel to her first ever completed novel.

In community, the song-writer grew bold enough to share her lyrics and melodies. We discovered that her music so perfectlyinterwove with my latest novel, that I ended up putting her words among my own. Beautiful, breathtaking, partnership.

The man plunged in, deciding to learn on the go. He didn’t aim to do it perfect, but shared his fresh, raw work so that others could help him make it better. Rather than learning alone through years of drafting and editing, he jumped into community. I can’t help but admire his courage. He doesn’t realize how many years he’s saved himself by doing this small, brave thing.

As for me? I’d never go back to doing it alone.

Even for a writer like me, there are no words to describe the elation, satisfaction and peace that comes from sojourning beside a like-minded, like-souled individual. We aren’t meant to do any of this life alone, least of all the stewardship of our gifts. I like to believe, when we commune this way alongside one another’s God-given-purposes, we get to experience a portion of what God experiences, living in perfect community within Himself.

I don’t think I need to convince you to create. But maybe you need convincing that you weren’t meant to create, alone.

Samantha Ortiz

 

This article is part of our Artists Still Live Here online magazine (Issue 3). You can download the full magazine here.