Last week, I attended a writer’s retreat in the beautiful Colorado Rockies. I didn’t say much while I was there. After all, I’m not a real writer, and I didn’t want to give away my secret. I don’t think humor columnists count, do they?

As I sat around listening to the real writers discuss things like characterization and dangling participles and POV (what in the world is POV, anyway?) I gazed longingly at the snow-capped mountains, and wondered if I could rent some skis and sneak away for a day.

But then, I thought better of it. I could just see Mark, picking me up from the airport in my wheelchair. Casts on both arms. And both legs.


Mark: Honey, what happened?

Me: Oh, those writers are a rough bunch. I got bounced.

Mark: What are you talking about?

Me: They had bouncers and everything. To make sure we didn’t break any grammar rules. I accidentally broke four, and this is what they did to me.

Needless to say, I stayed at the retreat. And I’m glad I did, because I met some really nice people there. It was a little intimidating at first, hob-knobbing with all of those published authors. People like Stephen King.

No, Stephen King wasn’t there. I said people like Stephen King.

But as I talked with other writers, I learned that we all have our own special gifts and talents. We all have a unique perspective, and that perspective, when used well, can bring encouragement and joy and hope to someone who needs it. I learned that I don’t have to try to be like anybody else. I just need to be the best little humor columnist that I can be.

And try not to break any grammar rules in the process.

Isn’t it silly that we compare ourselves to others? After all, if we were all the same, this would be a pretty dull place. So what if someone else can do something better than I can? I’ll bet that I have something to contribute that no one else can. And if we’d all stop worrying about trying to be like everybody else, and just concentrate on offering the very best of ourselves to those around us, the world would be a much better place, don’t you think?

The truth is, nobody is really keeping score. In real life, nobody cares if you’re a multiply published author, or if you won the blue ribbon at the county fair for the past twelve years, or if you can sing better than anyone else. There are no bouncers waiting to pounce on you as soon as you make a mistake, proving that you’re not as qualified as those around you. What people really want to know is whether or not you care about them. And you can quickly become the most popular person around, simply by using your gifts to bless others.

So, my friend, what do you do well? Are you a great cook? Perhaps you can garden, or play the piano, or hot-wire a car. (If it’s the latter, please don’t tell the police that I’m the one who encouraged you to use your gifts . . .) Find what you do well, and do your best at it. Then use that gift to bless somebody else.

Even if it’s as silly as writing a little humor column for your local paper.

Romans 12:6, 8 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. . . if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

10 Responses to Bounced

  1. May 27, 2009 #

    Wonderful post Renae!

  2. May 27, 2009 #

    Thanks, Cowgirl! 😉

  3. May 28, 2009 #

    Every group can benefit from the honing of a heckler. Although ‘twould not be tolerated, I’m sure, I’d love to watch a good heckler at a writer’s conference!

    I grew up in the home of a translator who gave us the breath of good grammar. But I delight in writers who fearlessly bandy with grammar as well as words. It’s what makes a composition 3D.

  4. May 28, 2009 #

    I’m sure you’d be a good heckler, Carol-Ann! Perhaps you and I ought not plan any trips together . . . 😉

  5. May 28, 2009 #

    You are most definitely a real writer! I love to read your humor and your devotions.

  6. May 28, 2009 #

    Thanks, Lillie! I love to read all of your writing, too!

  7. May 28, 2009 #

    Renae, it’s wonderful that you got to go to the conference — and even more wonderful that you came away encouraged to just be yourself. All of us — writers or otherwise — can benefit from that message. I hope to go to a conference later this year. Just not sure which one yet…

  8. May 28, 2009 #

    Thanks, Cheryl! There are so many good ones, it would be hard to choose. You and I need to get together and land at the same conference again, at some point! 🙂

  9. May 30, 2009 #

    It was definitely a conference to remember, and I didn’t even attend! It was wonderful to meet you, Renae!

    It is so easy to be intimidated by the gifts of others and to forget that there are some amazing gifts that often go unseen — like cheerfully showing mercy. Great post, and you picked a wonderful verse to go with it.

  10. May 30, 2009 #

    Thanks, Jeanette! One of the highlights was getting to meet you, Coral, and Barry!

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