Since my mother’s death, I’ve felt creatively blocked. I thought it was grief or depression, but as time went on, I became more and more frustrated. Maybe writing isn’t my calling, I thought. I mean, who ever heard of a wordless writer?
It came on suddenly—this realization that there was no one to be proud of me anymore, at least not in the way my mother would glow at my achievements. I said it out loud but never connected it to my success as a writer. Any future achievements won’t have her nodding head of approval.
I recently went to a writer’s conference where I sat in lectures with feelings of anxiety welling up inside of me. How am I supposed to establish a platform, a core message, and write an ebook by October when I don’t know who I am anymore? And even if I did do all that, who would read it?
See, my mom read every blog post and edited every college and grad school paper. She kept every college newspaper I published and even make a scrapbook of my childhood awards (because that good citizenship award from third grade is a keeper.). She was at every school concert or play, cheered me on when I sang solos at church, and showed up even when it was embarrassing. I was definitely her celebrated child.
Before she died, I desperately wanted my mom to tell me that she was proud of me. Instead she told me she told me she loved me over and over again. “But, Mom, are you proud of me?” It was an urgent question to which I desperately needed an answer. She told me I did the best with what life handed me and that she was sorry life handed me so much.
I never got to hear those words. And I never will hear them from her again, at least on this side of life.
It all rushed back to me one day as I was sitting on a wooden bench in my gym’s locker room. Openly sobbing in a wet bathing suit I realized there was no one who would be proud of me. No one who would really celebrate my achievements the way my mom once did.
As Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” played on the speaker overhead, God voice cut through the music straight to my battered heart: I will be proud of you. I will always be proud of you.
It seemed sacrilegious to equate God with pride because pride always comes before the fall. But it’s not a haughty type of proud, more like pleased with me, delighted in me, celebrating with me. Yes, God is the God who would celebrate me, His Beloved daughter. (Zephaniah 3:17)
And suddenly, I became unchained. God, who is always faithful, delighted in every little thing I did. Not only did He also see every concert, every award, every solo, He saw every time I held the door in His name or returned a shopping cart or just started loudly praising Him in song as I drove along Route 309.The very God who created me to do and create and be was watching and reveling in my acts of worship. Suddenly, very normal kindness seems like very holy business.
It doesn’t mean it won’t ache when I publish a book my mom won’t read or become a YouTube celebrity without her watching (haha!). Losing a mom is a mother load of loss, one I’m still processing in these months since her physical death.
But I can move forward as I accept the reality that I don’t just create to make my mother proud, but to communicate God’s love, truth and beauty to a world that desperately needs all three. Instead of earthly praise, I’m looking for something far, far better.