I know this is the first time we’ve “met,” and I know that by the picture at the bottom of the blog you can tell I’m not always serious and dignified in nature. But I really feel like I need to start our “get acquainted time” with a confession. I hope I won’t shock you clean off your writing chair, but here goes: I love being recognized. Not for being the wife of a fantastic preacher who has a stellar reputation in our community. Not for being known as a speaker of some renown in the Wabash Valley. Not for being the voice behind the microphone on a local religious radio station. Nope. I love being recognized for being a writer.
I’ve been writing a column in the Terre Haute Tribune Star for 17 years. If you subtract the five Saturdays I missed due to serious health concerns, and the first six months when the paper published my columns every other week instead of every week, that means I have written 867 columns. At 500 words a pop that means I’ve had 433,500 of my words published! Mercy, it makes me tired just thinking about it.
Over the course of those thousands of words and hundreds of columns, I’ve had my picture posted down by my byline. The picture has changed a few times, and currently I’m using one that’s about 10 years old. I no longer wear my hair in that color or that style, but I leave the picture there because it successfully hides my double chin.
But, old picture or not, it’s really hard for me to go somewhere without being recognized.
And I love it.
Once, when I was with a friend at a restaurant in Indianapolis, a couple stopped by our table on their way out. They recognized me, said they were avid column readers and wanted me to know they had been encouraged and entertained by things I had written. Made me feel so good I ordered a scoop of ice cream for my pie.
Last week, I was in the stands of our local prospect league baseball team minding my own business, munching on popcorn and cheering appropriately when the Rex team scored. In the middle of the sixth inning, a lady plopped herself into the empty seat beside me. “Are you Verna Davis?” I looked at her and for the life of me couldn’t remember ever laying eyes on her. I sheepishly asked, “Yes. Have we met before?” She smiled and said, “No, but I read your column and I really love the one you did on praising God in the storms.” I thanked her profusely and she went back to her seat, leaving me with a pleasant feeling of accomplishment.
But then, the gentleman immediately behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Are you really Verna Davis?” Turns out I really was, and he really was a Sunday School teacher and had used some of my columns in some of his lessons. He also told me that he usually read the paper first, but on Saturdays, he was not allowed to read the paper till his wife finished reading my column. That exchange made me feel like I wanted to take my turn at bat, knowing I had it in me to hit that ball right over the fence! I felt that good.
Once, a friend and I were at Red Lobster for lunch, enjoying shrimp scampi and those divine cheese biscuits. I noticed a couple looking at us. They finished their meal and went out of their way to walk past us as they left. The woman gave a little self-conscious wave and the man nodded, but I didn’t think anything more about it. Instead of bringing us our bill, our server brought us a message: the couple who had walked past us had paid for our lunch. They said it was a way they could repay me for my columns that had inspired them so much.
I’ve been recognized in the mall, in Wal-Mart, in the bank, and in the grocery store. (I’m so willing for someone to be inspired enough to pay for my cart full of groceries. But alas, that hasn’t happened yet!) At first being recognized embarrassed me. I have a gap-toothed smile, too many freckles, and my hair is too thin and too fine to hold a style for longer than five minutes. And I’m not exactly model-thin and gorgeous, either.
But now, I confess, I’m delighted when I’m recognized by complete strangers. See, after just a sentence or two, they are no longer strangers. They are my new friends who share with me a love for the Word of God and how it teaches, guides, comforts, and encourages us every minute of every day. When they begin to compliment my writing, I answer: “God gave me the talent and the desire. He gives me the inspiration and the ideas. All I do is use the gifts He gave me for His purposes.”
That is what my writing is all about. Giving a modern twist and current voice to the ancient truths of the Bible. I sit at home, late at night, in my jammies and pound the keyboard to share God’s message. I stare at blank screens till random thoughts become coherent thoughts. I search my memory for what my high school grammar teacher taught me about the proper use of “who” and “whom.” I get frustrated when I have to delete huge sections of wonderfully crafted words because they just don’t say anything. I struggle with that 500 word requirement. Sometimes what I want to say takes only 300 words, and sometimes I need 3,000.
But when I get discouraged and think it’s all for nothing, God will send someone my way who recognizes me. Some who encourages me to keep going, to keep writing, to keep
saying what God wants me to say.
I mean, seriously, writers. Don’t you love being recognized for what God has trained you to do? As for me, if you see me out and about in Hoosier Land, and you think you might recognize me, stop me and ask, “Are you Verna Davis?” We’ll laugh and share and talk about writing.