My "Prodigal Son" MomentJune 12, 2012
For a long time I was afraid to call myself a writer. I would talk around the idea, saying things like “Oh I went to school for journalism,” or “I write a blog.” Anything really except “I’m a writer.”
In fact, avoiding calling myself a writer went deeper than saying it out loud. I couldn’t even think of myself as one, even though that’s exactly what I wanted to be. My career path after university attested to my fear: server, executive assistant, nanny. I even tried my hand at mining camp logistics for a time. I was as far away from “writer” as I could get.
When confronted on my lack of focus or drive I was full of excuses. I’d explain why it wasn’t a good time, or that the market was bad, or talk about how it’s difficult to break into the industry. As well I blamed others’ successes on things I didn’t have: connections, a second language, money. Anything really to take the focus off of my failings and place it on “the horrible industry I desperately want to be a part of.”
I can’t remember the exact moment but the years (yes, years) of meandering and avoidance led me to an unstable place better known as “rock bottom.” Since I was actively dodging what I knew I should be doing I harboured esteem-killing guilt, shame, and embarrassment. It was exhausting and eventually my burden of regret caught up with me. I crumpled under its weight.
It was at this point I finally realized I had a choice in the matter. If I continued on the path of choosing easy jobs, ones I wasn’t afraid of failing at, I would never be a writer. And it would be my fault. However, if I really made an effort maybe something would happen. And maybe not. I wouldn’t ever know until I tried. Although not so dramatic, I could call this my “Prodigal Son” moment.
Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is one of those ones I’ve always known but never tire of. I especially love imagining the moment where the son, sitting in a pile of pig slop—in the rain—after slipping in the mud (I may be editorializing a bit), had a moment of clarity. Suddenly his eyes are opened and he sees his life for what is has become. He realizes it’s only going to change if he makes it happen so he picks himself up and begins the long journey home, a changed man.
We all struggle with taking personal responsibility for our actions and choices. It’s never easy to be accountable but as soon as we stop blaming others and making excuses we are able to begin taking steps to a better life.
For more on the Prodigal Son: