The first time someone asked me to sign a copy of one of my books I was embarrassed. Even now, I can’t bring myself to call it an “autograph.” I had no idea what I was supposed to write or how I was supposed to sign my name. Mostly, I had no idea why on earth anyone would want my signature.
I now am working on my 13th and 14th books. One is about the challenges of church leadership in the 21st century, and the other is about how to make lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer relationships last. It is a strange combination, but I’ve written a number of books and taught graduate classes on both topics. Still, it startled me recently when someone introduced me as “a professor and an author.”
How many books must one write before seeing oneself as an author? Perhaps my difficulty is that I don’t make my living writing. In fact, I don’t make any money writing because the proceeds most often have gone to the organizations for whom I have worked. Maybe I don’t see myself as an author because it is a vocation I esteem, and my writing is certainly not good enough to qualify.
Poet David Whyte talks about “the arrogance of belonging” and says that it is vital that we cultivate it if we are to more vividly interact with life. Perhaps that begins for me by my simply saying “I am an author” rather than “I’m just a preacher who writes,” which has been my self-definition.
So, how might you identify yourself more boldly to affirm the gifts that are yours already and could become yours more fully every day? It needs to be a new affirmation. Notice, I don’t have any hesitation calling myself a “preacher.” I’ve been doing that since I was 18, so it is second nature. What new part of me am I slow in claiming/affirming? What new areas is Life calling forth?
Like the man with the withered hand, hear Jesus call you to stretch out that which may be withered within you and let it be healed. It may hurt or feel uncomfortable at first, but it is the feeling of a healing.
Rev. Michael Piazza