About this time last year, I was preparing for my first ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference. I remember being extremely nervous, since I’d only interacted with other ACFW members via social media. And since I was coming from a general market background, I wasn’t sure how I’d be accepted by the Christian author world. It sounds silly now that I think of it, but it was an honest fear.  I wanted to be a part of their group, yet I was still on the outside looking in.

          Doesn’t that remind you of the awkward social dynamics of junior high and high school? It might have been a bit more dramatic then—with our volatile adolescent emotions—but things don’t change as we get into adulthood. We all want to belong to a group…a place where people “get” us; where you can be comfortable just being yourself. Last year, I wasn’t 100% sure I belonged in the Christian author world. While I knew I didn’t belong in the steamy romance world (anymore), I wasn’t sure if I should stick with general market and write “clean” or fully identify myself as a “Christian” author.  

          A year later, I’m leaning toward the Christian author label, mostly because my faith is a part of me, and it will naturally come out as I write. I don’t think I could write a story without mentioning the role faith plays in my characters’ journeys. The great thing I’ve discovered about Christian authors this past year is that there’s a wide range in how they weave faith into a story. Some are very heavy with Christian themes while others are more subtle. It’s a relief to know I can choose a lighter approach and still be included in the genre.

          Since September 2017, I’ve gotten to know a lot more authors, and I finally feel more comfortable being myself. And the best thing is that many of us have the introverted, socially awkward personality, so I know I’ll be with my tribe! This year, I’m going to be bolder about introducing myself to others, and I’m not going to hide out in my room, feeling unimportant. God provided me with an awesome group of roommates, and I’m eager to meet them in person.

          As I pack up my suitcase, I’m going to pray that nothing—insecurity, comparison, fear, or envy—keeps me from being me. God made me a certain way, and He doesn’t make mistakes.

          Are you ever afraid to be yourself? Do you change your personality based on what group you’re with?

          I’ll leave you with this truth from the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV)

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.