By Catherine West
When Sara Bereilles’ song Brave (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4) first came out, the tune got me. It’s catchy. It makes you want to get up and dance. But then I started really listening. And the words . . . yes. Those words. Ooo, boy. Hit me hard. Because I knew. I wasn’t brave. Not by a long shot.
And maybe I needed to be.
So I started a journey . . . a quest of sorts . . . to find faith in myself again. To really believe that my words matter. They do. So do yours. Whether you say them out loud or write them down, they matter.
And only you get to choose when and how to share them.
I needed to fully embrace the importance of my words as a writer, but more importantly as someone who is deeply loved by a Father who has an incredible plan for my life. And that makes me brave. Brave enough to say what I want to say. Brave enough to believe somebody will listen. And hear. And feel. Brave enough to know my words have a purpose.
There was a time, not so long ago, that I almost believed they didn’t.
Rejection will do that to you.
Knowing your calling, feeling it pulse through your veins every waking moment of the day . . . you can’t simply step over it when somebody tells you what you’ve written doesn’t matter. Well, I suppose you could, but not many of us do. Instead we sit down in it. Wallow. Whine. Wail a bit. And wonder why.
It’s easy to forget that the words do matter. That each word we write, each story we tell, is a gift that only we’ve been given. Nobody writes the way I do. I don’t write like anyone else. I may enjoy another author’s style, even envy them from time to time (don’t do that, it’s very bad), but deep down, I know who I am now.
Sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into the endless arguments of how we should write and what words we should use and shouldn’t use. Anyone who doesn’t think a writer chooses his or her words carefully has no concept of what being a writer is. And no business casting judgment on what we do and how we choose to do it.
And I guess you do need a little brave to be able to say that.
Today especially, when my book The Things We Knew, launches, I need all the brave I can get. I know not everyone is going to like what I have to say. And that’s okay. Does that mean I shouldn’t say it? Shouldn’t write the stories that only I can tell, in my own way? No. It means being aware, being respectful, but also being true to myself. To the words I’ve been entrusted with. I need to be brave enough to know that my words matter. Brave enough to believe and trust this gift was given to me for a reason. I want to be heard, understood, loved. Don’t we all? But being brave means accepting that won’t always happen. There will be those who simply refuse what you’re giving. They will scorn, belittle and reject. And that might hurt. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying.
Because your words, your song, your art . . . nobody can take this from you.
Don’t let them think they can. Don’t let them try.
Say what you want to say.
And know your words matter.
Award-winning author Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s novel, Bridge of Faith, won the 2015 Grace Award. Her new novel, The Things We Knew, releases July 12th, 2016, through Harper Collins Christian Publishing. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com