As a firstborn and only child, I excelled at music, grades, and leadership. Writing, on the other hand, was not an area of strength and, in fact, got me into trouble when I was in fifth grade. I wasn’t too fond of my teacher so I wrote a little tale about her and called her Mrs. Vegeburger. I don’t remember the details of the story but I do remember the long walk to the principal’s office where I learned I shouldn’t write stories like that again. Apparently, Mrs. Vegeburger found my story unflattering.
This ended my childhood attempts at creative writing.
In high school, I took freshman college English, overachiever that I was. The short, plump teacher wore heavy make up, making her stand out among the other pale-faced faculty who were more compliant with the school’s no-makeup policy. Even more memorable than her maquillage were the long dark hairs poking out of her chin, proving that she was from the dark side or just hadn’t discovered tweezers yet. Now that I am older, and much more gracious, I can speculate that she may have been a good teacher, but my adolescent narcissism prevented me from seeing past the whiskers. Despite my best efforts, I earned a C- in her class, the lowest of my high school grades, which actually went on my college record, the one engraved in stone. I was humiliated with my grade, but in all fairness, I probably deserved that score. After all, it’s hard to write when your heart is locked up, but I didn’t know that then.
Several years later, I was invited to my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding, which involved an endless road trip from the mountains of California to a strange flat country known as Nebraska. I was a guest of my boyfriend’s family and during the journey, I observed how married parents behaved. As a daughter of a divorced mother, I had no exposure to marriage and assumed that if parents were married, they were happy. So I was in for a shock when my boyfriend’s father was abusive to his wife…all the way to Nebraska. Meanwhile from the back seat, I recorded everything in my brand new journal. Eventually, I learned that he had a habit of reading things not intended for his eyes, which became evident after he read my journalistic exposé of his un-Jesus-y behavior, pastor that he was.
There is nothing like a wedding to expose a family’s dirty little secrets.
Needless to say, these events completely crippled any further attempt at writing until my tortuous years in therapy where I discovered that journaling was a powerful way to unravel the knots of my childhood. Every once in a while a story tenuously emerged. I cautiously shared these newborn stories with a teeny tiny audience who eagerly introduced me to William Zinsser and a thesaurus. The result was better writing, more stories and my first book, Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection.
Looking back at these early events—the principal’s office, the bad grade and the journal incident—the real injury was that I lost my voice. I believed a dangerous message: stay silent, don’t tell. But the power of the enemy—the power of sin—is broken when we tell, so God has given me a way to tell my story, even with my less then stellar performance in English class.
I don’t know if the enemy stole my writing ability or if it was a gift from God at just the right time. But I do know that He redeems what has been stolen and restores what has been ravaged. Putting words to paper has given me my voice back so I can tell, and remember, what He has done in my life.
GENEVA CHINNOCK is a writer and author of Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection. Geneva has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and a Master in Business Administration. In her spare time, Geneva loves reading, eating bacon and attending live theater. She lives in Southern California with her husband and blogs about matters of faith at TreasuredbyGod.com.