I once flew to Washington, DC, with my friend Laura for my first national writing conference. We shared the airport shuttle to our hotel with a chatty woman who latched onto Laura’s hesitant admission that she’s a published author.
“Oh! My husband’s a novelist,” the woman said, hanging over our seatback. “What are your book titles? I’ve probably heard of them.”
It felt disloyal to snap, “No, you haven’t.” But no, she hadn’t. And no, Laura’s books hadn’t been featured in “Oprah’s magazine or anything like that.” After two masters degrees from Iowa, the reigning sovereign of the world’s writing programs, Laura became a professor, publishing her memoirs and novels through small university presses.
I cut in, “What’s the name of your husband’s book?” My airy “Haven’t heard of it” died on my tongue. I had. One of the “Big Four” New York City publishing houses bought his debut novel that sold so well that he quit his job to write full-time.
I don’t begrudge his success. But as his wife extolled the prizes of his new career I wondered if she knew what writing offers beyond earthly treasures. Benefits like learning to solve problems, gaining wisdom and patience, understanding self and others, and connecting with one’s Creator are hard to discern from the outside. But that’s why Laura built a life that prioritizes this work.
Whatever our income, we should all remember that God sets no value in what the world treasures. “God knows your hearts,” Jesus tells the Pharisees, “for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God” (v. 15). When we pursue worldly prizes for the sake of the world’s esteem, we sacrifice something greater.
What project are you passionate about? How does working on it benefit you in ways that others aren’t likely to see? Thank God for each of these benefits.
God who sees my heart, teach me to pursue what you prize. Amen.