by Tessa Afshar

Have you ever wondered why Esther’s initial response to
Mordecai’s cry for help was essentially, “I can’t”?

She may have come to her position for just such a time as this, but Esther was so focused on the impossibility of her situation that she almost missed her calling. 

I have often wondered if Esther’s childhood had something to do with her fearful response. Esther had lost her parents at a young age. She had found a kind father figure in Mordecai. But that could not have erased the trauma of loss and its accompanying lessons. Somewhere deep in Esther’s heart lay the knowledge that the worst could come to pass. A deep-seated fear had wormed its way into her soul. And when Mordecai asked her to step into the shoes of a courageous queen, all she felt was, “I can’t!”

Like Esther, we bring our wounds and scars to our calling. 

As writers, we may be here exactly for such a time as this. But that doesn’t mean we are going to be ready for its challenges. 

You may be closing doors because of fear, or insecurity, or comparison, or rejection. Doors God has not closed.

Often, these doors start small. You give up on writing time. You stop praying about your project. Walk away from your critique group. Stop checking in with your favorite writing blog or podcast. All you feel is, “I can’t!” 

When it comes to your dreams, you have to be very careful with your “I can’t.” 

Writing is hard because it starts with a blank page. Every day. And that blank page comes with no guarantees. No guarantees that it will be good. Or useful. Or published. Or even seen. I write for a living, and I still have to face this every time I sit down to work. 

When you sit on that chair and stare at that screen, you bring your wounds and scars with you. And they will share their opinion very readily. If that’s all you hear, you will say, “I can’t!”

Which is why it’s so important to cling to God harder and develop a community like Esther did. Those who will pray with you. Encourage you. And, sometimes, even offer the right kind of correction, as Mordecai did. 

Give your “I can’t” to God. Tell your wounds they can’t run your life. Face that blank page with faith and write. 

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Tessa Afshar is the best-selling author of biblical and inspirational historical fiction, including these award-winning titles: Land of Silence and Harvest of GoldHarvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Christian Book Award for fiction and Daughter of Rome is a finalist for a 2021 Carol Award. Her first Bible study, The Way Home: God’s Invitation to New Beginnings (based on the book of Ruth), was awarded best Bible study by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) in 2020. Tessa’s latest release is Jewel of the Nile (2021). Tessa was born in the Middle East and lived there for the first 14 years of her life. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever.