When I exited the house that night, I slipped into my car, and unfolded the check I had been handed for a night of babysitting. And then I leaned my head against the steering wheel, and I wept.
Making it in college is rarely easy. I had moved across the country, to a state where I knew no one, to attend a college I couldn’t afford because I was certain that was where God wanted me. I took classes full-time and worked three jobs – two at the college, and one nannying/babysitting to pay for books, gas, clothes, and bills. I rarely put more than $5 worth of gas in my tank at one time because I couldn’t afford it. This particular night, I had been very grateful to get a call asking if I could babysit because I had a bill coming up, a mostly empty tank of gas, and only a few dollars in my bank account. If I was lucky, they’d be gone long enough for me to make enough to at least pay the bill.
I don’t remember the exactly amount of that check. But I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of gratitude as I realized they had paid me substantially more than my normal $10 an hour rate. It was enough to get gas, pay my bill, and maybe even have a few dollars left over. I was completely overwhelmed by the grace of God in using that couple to provide for me.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, how one small thing can infuse so much hope into you? A kind word, a gentle touch, or a bit of money that brings something from the “impossible” to the “possible” category. Any or all of these things can result in one word that means so much. Hope. I took so much more from that check than a means to survive. I took it as God telling me I didn’t have to worry. He had my back. He always provided, one way or another.
You may or may not have noticed the new header at the top of my website. One of the things I discovered during the writer’s conference earlier this month was my brand. I had already begun to realize that most of my stories revolved around the concept of hope. Usually a character is going through something and has to find and cling to hope to get through it. Through the course of the week of writing sessions, I tried to pinpoint exactly what I was trying to tell the reader in those stories. And I finally figured it out. I want my readers to know that there is always hope, no matter how hard things get. I want them to find hope through hardship.
And the most powerful means of conveying that message is through stories. One of the speakers said, “Story is the greatest combat to noise.” Readers connect and respond to stories in a way that is almost impossible through any other means, because we have all been through hard things. So, whether we are looking for empathy, help, or an escape, stories are what we cling to.
I want to write stories that speak to people. I want to give them hope. A place to go to smile, laugh, cry, and just for a moment, feel like there are idylls around the corner.
I want to be a storyteller.