At the age of twenty-two, my first book was published. It happened rather easily and unexpectedly. A publisher had seen me on television, and they emailed me, ‘Please write your memoir.’ I was given carte blanche, with only one request. I had to write the book in Afrikaans.
I was a full-time motivational speaker by then, and I knew I would have to set a few months aside to write this book. I cleared out my calendar and focused on writing this memoir.
Within two months, I had written 40,000 words. It had come easily and naturally, but I didn’t dig very deep. I wrote the way I worked: quickly, efficiently, and with little depth. I had a deadline and I had to get it over with.
Next came a devotional book for teens. Once again, I set a few days apart and started writing. Within four days, I was done. But I was hard on myself: I was extremely focused, driven, and determined to get this done. This book was soon taken up by a publisher and it was released in 2014.
This year, after moving to Jeffrey’s Bay, I claimed restoration over myself and my life. One such way was that I felt the Lord was stirring me to rewrite my memoir, to rewrite it the way I really would’ve wanted to write it. This time around it will be written in English.
In August, I created the outline for the book. In September, the Lord restored another part of my life unexpectedly – a new community and new friendships started popping up all over town.
In October, I sat in front of the laptop, and… nothing happened. It wasn’t resistance as such, and it certainly wasn’t writer’s block. It was a fear of what I was going to discover about myself and my life, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this.
I started panicking, not understanding what was happening. Then a conversation with a dear friend from Oregon, USA – Louisa – brought a clarity and perspective towards what was going on in my heart. I told her, ‘Now that I’m writing my book, I’m astounded by how much I’ve already been through… and so many details I had forgotten about my life. I’m starting to remember again.’
She responded, ‘More healing will come as you remember, as you write. You will relive it through your maturity and see things you couldn’t take in before.’
I noticed she was hitting the nail on the head, but I was still unclear what the nail was. I shared with her, ‘I’ve been frustrated because I’m not getting the results I wanted with my writing. I’m not meeting my deadlines.’
Louisa gave me these gentle instructions in return, ‘Writing your story, remembering the details leads to inner healing. Hard to put a deadline on that process. I guess you’re not just writing a book!’
A light bulb went on. I realized I need to look at this writing project differently.
Louisa finished off the conversation with, ‘I bless you to write, reveal, find truth and heal!’
After talking with her, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. No longer was there a spirit of condemnation and harshness towards myself for not producing the ‘results’ I had wanted. There are unforced rhythms of grace that God bestows upon our lives. God in His kindness doesn’t punish us; He doesn’t order and command us to do things. He is kind and gentle; therefore, I can be kind towards myself as well. To just breathe, take it all in, remember, and then write it down. I can take my time to process things, to receive healing and grace.
Next year it will be exactly ten years since my first memoir was launched. How wonderful it will be when that cycle of my memoir is complete. And how wonderful it would be to receive healing in the places I had never thought I would need it.
‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’
Matthew 11:28-30 – The Message