Friday, December 11, 2020

For Writers Trudging Through the Woods


by Joshua Master @JoshuaJMasters

My greatest Christmas memory came when I was12 years old. I can’t tell you what I got for presents that year. I don’t remember what we had for Christmas dinner or what ornaments we put on the tree. The reason that specific Christmas means so much to me is that I regard it as our first genuine family Christmas. Because that twelfth year was the one I met the man I call “Dad.” 

I can tell you the exact instant I knew our lives had changed—it was the moment we left to get a Christmas tree. I never really knew where our tree came from. It always just appeared in our house and then we would decorate it, but that year was different. When my mom suggested it was time to go buy a tree, this man who would choose to make me his child said, “Families should go cut down a Christmas tree together.” 

So, we bundled up and headed into the woods—not a tree lot, but the woods. There were no trails. No paths. The snow was unbearably deep, and I could barely move. I was cold and tired. I think we looked at a million trees. When we finally found one that would look perfect in our apartment, we brought it down, each taking a turn with the saw. Then we kids, my brothers and I, had to help pull it out of the forest, making the snowy trek back even more difficult than the adventure into the woods. 

For some of us today, our lives and our writing feel like we’re trudging through the forest. The snow seems deep, the journey long, and the wind bites bitterly at our emotions. And as the expectations of the holidays bear down on us, our writing can suffer—sometimes it’s just an issue of time. But for some of us, we walk through this season with the memories of past hurts and the icy sting of separation from loved ones.

Let’s be honest, sometimes it feels like everyone else lives in the joyous hope of Christmas while no one sees how far we are from the clearing. Our boots are heavy as we trudge through chapters we can’t concentrate on, words we can’t find, and important life events that keep us distracted. It can seem like others are gazing with wonder upon idyllic drifts of snow while we stare blankly at foreboding drafts of woe. Trudge. Trudge. Trudge.

The question is this:

Are you trudging alone or are you trudging with family? 

Because that difficult Christmas tree hunt, that glorious burden of labored steps, changed my life and perspective forever. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great Christmas every year. I was always happy, had the gifts I wanted under the tree, and we always had great food. In fact, I didn’t realize something was missing until this father-figure I didn’t know I needed walked into our lives. 

Maybe you're trudging through your writing or through a season of life alone right now. And maybe you don’t realize something is missing because you never had it. Look for the people that want to encourage you.
  • In your writing.
  • In your faith.
  • In your sorrow.
  • In your life.
Because if you’re fighting through your journey with a family of people who love you, the things that seem difficult now can become the most important and defining moments in your life. They can become memories you cherish instead of moments you regret. That’s what the Christian writing community we’re a part of is all about. It’s about having a family of believers around us that turn our difficult journeys into opportunities to become stronger.

You may not meet your deadline this month. You may not write the best article of your career, but that doesn’t mean fruit can’t grow out of this winter season. Reach out to others. Trudge together in the heavy banks of pen and life. 

We were created to journey together, but there’s an even greater gift at Christmas for those who are slogging through life’s dark, timbered path. 

I thought my first eleven Christmases were great. I didn’t know what I was missing until I had a dad who wanted to spend all his time with me. Christmas is not just about our brothers and sisters in Christ, but about recognizing no matter what’s happened in our past or how it’s affecting our writing now, we have a Father who not only comes into the forest with us—but gave everything to call us His children (1 John 3:1) and bring us out of the forest safely. 

We don’t have to walk through the woods alone. Our Dad will walk with us now.

“… the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (Isaiah 7:14 NLT).

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Joshua J. Masters is a pastor, author, and speaker. He’s been featured on CBN Television, HIS Radio, and the Light Radio Network. Josh is the author of AMERICAN PSALMS: PRAYERS FOR THE CHRISTIAN PATRIOT and is a contributing author for Feed Your Soul, Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and One Christian Voice. Josh has also worked as AN ACTOR AND CREW MEMBER in the film industry (SAG/AFTRA) and continues to have a passion for film. He lives with his wife, Gina, and Franklin the Pup outside Greenville, South Carolina where he serves as a speaking and care pastor.

Josh would love to connect with you on his website, WWW.JOSHUAJMASTERS.COM or engage with you on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, or GOODREADS.

22 comments:

  1. Always such an encourager Pastor Joshua. Am honored and blessed to come alongside you in prayer throughout our writing journeys sir. God's blessings; and give Franklin a treat and Ms. Gina a hug for me sir.

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    1. Thank you so much, J.D. I'm so grateful to hear you were encouraged by this post,

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    1. You're very welcome, Roberta. Have a wonderful day.

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  3. Wonderful analogy, Joshua! Thank you for sharing from your heart. "Maybe you're trudging through your writing or through a season of life alone right now. And maybe you don’t realize something is missing because you never had it. Look for the people that want to encourage you." Well-stated and very encouraging. May you have a blessed Christmas!

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    1. Merry Christmas to you as well, Elaine. I'm so glad that quote was helpful to you. We all face difficult seasons in life, but we do not need to face them alone.

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  4. I love this! What great encouragement this post brings. As always, Pastor Joshua, you’ve written words to uplift and to give depth to really think about. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Tammy. I'm so encouraged by your words and grateful for your comment. Merry Christmas and I pray you have a wonderful day!

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  5. Beautiful story, Joshua. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I'm so glad my story could encourage you, Crystal. Thank you.

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  6. What a great reminder of THE Father beside us no matter how dark the forest.

    Thank you!

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    1. Very well said. Thank you so much! Yes, the forest can be dark but our Father walks with us.

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  7. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

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    1. I was happy to share this memory, Jarm. Thank you for your kind words. Have a great day.

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  8. Psalms 113:9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD. When you've not had family you learn the value thereof. ;) Good words. Donevy

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    1. Praise God! That's a wonderful scripture for this post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  9. Beautifully written and (more importantly) an important reminder that trudging along with family and our Father is far superior to a quick trip, alone, through life's tree lot.

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    1. That is so well said, Holli. Thank you for sharing what you got from reading the post. Isn't it amazing how God comes along side us?

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  10. Touching post with tremendous insights. Thank you for sharing, Joshua. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Merry Christmas to you as well, Barbara. Thank you for your encouraging words. I really appreciate it.

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  11. Joshua, what a tribute to your father and to our Father in heaven. Your writing encouraged me. Thank you!

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  12. What a good reminder of our Father's love. I really appreciated what you said that He not only goes into the forest with us but He brings us out safely! And a wonderful tribute to your Dad also!

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