Power in the Pause
“Be still and know…” (Psalm 46:10a NIV).
You love them too much.
That’s what was written in red at the top of my 11th grade advanced literature assignment, with a circle and an arrow indicating the object of Mr. Fisher’s remark.
Commas—the punctuation used to separate words in a series, join independent clauses –were, I admit, my friends. I liked how they revealed where one should pause, take a breath, before continuing, similar to the breath symbol in music.
I suppose my high school English instructor who, it was rumored, only taught so he could coach sports was correct. His words—that which stung like criticism to a blossoming writer—caused me to take pause.
What I didn’t know then, have come to better understand over the span of more than three decades, is he was right. I did overuse commas. Didn’t always use them correctly. Still don’t, in fact—though I’m improving.
Indeed, there’s power in the pause, and commas grammatically, specifically, speak to this broader truth, though, as in life, pauses in writing should be purposeful. That’s something else I’m learning.
I would say I’ve always desired to be a writer. At the age of seven, I poured forth my heart in 2nd grade essays—about homework machines, for example, that could free up a Wednesday afternoon in two seconds flat.
By 5th grade, I’d matured, trying my hand at script-writing and poetry. Being introduced to Shel Silverstein opened up a world of opportunity—with his nonsense lines and tender, short-verse that hit my heart like a staccato.
I loved English and language arts throughout middle and high school. Thankfully, Mr. Fisher’s comment on commas didn’t put an end to my dream. It was, ironically, only a pause in my pursuit, and, in no time, I was back at it. I just paid closer attention to place commas appropriately, and I came to appreciate him for his guidance—even if he did prefer passing a basketball over guiding my figurative pen.
I can’t honestly say I planned on pursuing writing for the Christian market. I wanted to write for kids, even enrolled in a correspondence course offered by a highly regarded institute where I hoped to hone my skills and learn how to write excellent children’s literature. Sadly, I never completed the course—blaming my elementary education college studies, as well as my new husband, but, truth is, it was all those red marks on my returned assignments. Such stirred insecurity again. Hence, another pause in the writing journey.
But unlike other pauses, I believe this one produced something, changing my trajectory, redefining my purpose as a writer.
Somewhere in this timeframe, the Lord impressed upon my heart His heart on the matter—as though He said, “Lean in and listen. Hear what I have to say.” And He spoke to me particularly through His Word—
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10 NIV).
But it was a single word, that which sums up a short phrase in Hebrew, that specifically spoke to me, and it comes after this passage.
Like a comma, it means to ‘pause.’ To ‘stop and think about it.’ To ‘ponder.’
And I did, and I asked Him, “What do You desire for me to glean from this?”
True to His promise—to give wisdom to those who seek Him—He spoke so sweetly to my heart, giving me direction, offering me encouragement.
And it all began with my obedience to be still—to know who God was and is. To hear Him speak about how He wanted me to help exalt His name, namely through my writing. And, as a writer, this particular charge was a game-changer, giving purpose to my calling.
Since that season all those years ago, my writing has served as a means to bring God glory—whether on social media, in blog posts, or with submissions to our local newspaper and other devotional sites.
Pausing daily, I ask Him, “What’s on Your heart today, Abba?” and, faulty though I am, I try to hear. To obey. To follow His lead with regard to my writing—those words I send into the world to encourage others to pause, look to Him, learn from Him. To experience His love and, in turn, love Him and others more.
So, to my high school literature teacher, I’d say today–
“Yes, I do!”
Because there’s Power in the pause, and it’s made all the difference.
***This blog (with slight change) posted first at Inspire Christian Writers***
Perhaps there’s a pause you might consider taking in your life. Pray and ask the Lord what He might like to teach you as you rest in His presence.
Dear Jesus, help us to be still that we might know who You are and how You might desire to work in our lives, that YOU might be exalted. Amen.
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I, too, love my commas. 😅
Ha, we share so much in comma! 😉
Maureen, you said it so beautifully here. I sometimes think about the punctuation of my own life, which contains far too many run-on sentences because I pack so much in there is no time for that needed comma or even the full stop of a period. (And that sentence there is the perfect example.) There is power in a pause, and I need to embrace that going forward!
“And that sentence there is the perfect example.” You’re too funny! I keep needing to remind myself of this. It’s an ongoing battle. Glad we journey TOGETHER through ALL life’s periods! (See what I did there!?)
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