For the past ten or eleven years since I came back from Africa, my Dad has been encouraging me to write a book about our time in Africa. Shaking a finger at me, hand on my shoulder, big brown eyes looking straight into mine he'd say,
'You need to write, just start, before you forget'.
'I know, I know' I would say. But then I wouldn't.
Then my husband hopped on the bandwagon with him. The two of them tag teaming me and cheering me on.
'You need to write, Jen. Just start', my husband would say.
But do I have what it takes? Do I have the stuff, the courage and the ability to write a book? Not to mention I cringe just saying it, it feels...arrogant saying I'm writing a book, or worse yet my 'memoirs' which sounds like I should be saying it while wearing a smoking jacket holding a pipe and speaking with a posh English accent.
Aside from my lacking confidence, there's also the issue that writing my story isn't just a collection of interesting monkey tales of our journey into the jungle. There's a much bigger picture involved. What took me to Africa in the first place is a big part of the story, and the journey I was on before, during and after are all part of it.
The scary thing is that it involves not only digging into my less than 'Christian' history, but it also means putting it on paper and then hopefully getting it published. Like letting the world read my diary. Gulp.
I could face judgment, ridicule and more.
So why do it?
Firstly, because I feel that not only are my Dad and my husband pressing me to do it, now God is in on it too.
'Just start writing,' He said when I took my concerns and fears and doubts about this idea to Him.
Secondly because if my story speaks to even one person who feels the way I did, who's making the kind of choices I made, if it causes them to think that maybe they are worthy of so much more; the unconditional love of a saviour, then it's worth all of that risk and more.
Lastly, because I want my Dad to know that I took his advice, that I'm going to go for it and see where it leads.
So I have started to 'just write' as often as I can. Tapping away at my keyboard as the Lord brings memories, thoughts and feelings to mind. When I get a quiet half an hour without kids, as I sit with my Dad, I just write.
I've amassed over 5,000 words so far, a prologue and three chapters. A drop in the bucket.
It's a daunting task to say the very least and it means revisiting some sleeping dogs that I would like to leave snoring and some painful memories that cause tears to blur my eyes as I type.
But, as I have been encouraged by my Dad, my husband and my heavenly father, I will 'just start writing'.