That One Time I Promised to Cut Loose
April 25, 2015

My word this year is “release”.

I didn’t want a word this year. After all, I have a whole phrase I’m living in. Who has time for a word and a phrase. Not this girl.

Well, apparently I needed to make time because when you ask the Holy Spirit to impress something on your heart and He does, listening seems to be the wisest course of action.

Two weeks ago today I rode north to Portland with my friend. Tresta is a gifted writer who speaks bold truths with a gentle gracious spirit.

Our destination was the Faith and Culture Writers Conference for 2015.

Last year I left  with ideas. I had motivation. I wrote about “Coming Out of the Margins” and how I was going to move forward with my writing, speaking and living out my faith by raising my voice.

Last year I prayed, “What is it Lord that you want me to write? Who is it Lord that you want me to touch? How is it Lord that you want me to move forward on this beautiful earth in my messy life?”

As I looked back over the year I saw progress. There was forward movement, lives touched and I am steps closer to fulfilling part of my calling.

I also saw more roadblocks and detours thrown in my path. It’s amazing how easy it is to focus on the things that slow us down. The belief that my focus must be unique in order for my voice to be my own.

This year I found breakthrough and the reality that maybe it’s supposed to come in steps. Maybe growth isn’t always at breakneck speed but often it’s a one foot in front of the other affair.

This year the conference included a Friday retreat setting with a writing workshop after lunch. Seth Haines encouraged us to sit outdoors and spend the time writing from our perspective. We returned to the room to share what we wrote about.

There was a tree that stuck up over a building. It was full of blooms. I wrote of the short time this tree would look like this and wondered if anyone noticed that it was signaling that change was in the air. I lamented the short span of life the blooms had but the beauty of it’s return every year.

As writers shared their work a woman began to tell us about a tree she observed. It had reminded her of the time of year she lost her child and how it was a time of reflection. We wrote about the same tree and even some of the same observations but our words and voice were our own. Our vantage point and life experience gave us both a unique perspective with similar conclusions.

Another spoke poignantly of her own unique point of view because the community she identifies with is at a painful crossroad in history. Her lament echoed over the long wooden table as other writers admitted that we too find it hard to wrap up hard words with a happy ending.

Sometimes I write from the middle and have no ending at all.

My inbox is filled with close to a hundred drafts waiting for the perfect ending. I’ve been locked up by my own need to fix every problem I write about. To bring a conclusion to stories that need to be shared but aren’t quite finished.

We came back together to share as a larger group. As we went around the room I was tagged to share our small group observation. After relaying the revelations found in the workshop the question was posed, “How is this going to change your writing?” I blurted out “I’m cutting loose!”

I’m cutting away from the need to always give the answers when sometimes we need to sit in the questions.

I’m letting go of having to be the only one to address a topic or hiding my words because someone with a platform already said it.

Sometimes we need to repeat things in our own voice with our own words with our own space.

There is still so much more about the weekend that feels like freedom but I don’t have to wrap it all up for you now.

When I returned home there was a present waiting for me. It’s a special edition mug  for Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” launch team. Most people chose the same hashtag. Me? I lamented over mine so much that I sent a frantic last minute email asking if it was too late to change mine from #grace.

It couldn’t have been better timing or a more appropriate word.





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  1. Cheryl Moses

    This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing and for cutting loose! I’m praying you’ll the courage to do so more and more.

    • Jemelene

      Thank you Cheryl, It feels like freedom!

  2. Kelly Johnson

    This is AWESOME!! Every single bit of it resonated with me, but these words JUMPED out.

    “I’m letting go of having to be the only one to address a topic or hiding my words because someone with a platform already said it. Sometimes we need to repeat things in our own voice with our own words with our own space.”

    I know this is true, but I get hung up in the “why another voice” worries too. No one else has my unique voice. No one else has your unique voice.

    Thanks for the reminder! Love your writing, new friend! #forthelove

    • Jemelene

      Thanks Kelly! So fun to add friends on the journey.

      I guess if we are all singing our note we become a beautiful chorus. We should give more credit to backup singers, right?

      One more voice,one more friend!

  3. Jody Collins

    Jemelene, your post here and on the F&C blog was so powerful. God did a lot in that workshop of Seth’s, it sounds like. I enjoyed (sorta) meeting you–criss crossing in conversations and all at Faith and Culture. I’ll be back!

    • Jemelene

      Oh Jody, it was a great weekend wasn’t it? Hitting us in faith and culture AND our writing! Multi-faceted yet simple.
      It was great to meet you too. Looking forward to more connection.


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