This was first published in Southern Writer’s Magazine’s blog in Dec. 2014. I’m sharing it today to remind us not to take anyone’s opinion too seriously. God can certainly override, and he does.
The Cup Speaketh
I held a caramel latte in my right hand, savoring a few sips of creamy goodness before I practiced my speech. I had only one day left until I hopped onto an airplane to a writer’s conference in New Mexico and my first opportunity to teach in front of other writers. This talk had to be perfect.
Turning the cup around, I glanced at a quote about aging printed on the side. Hmmm, not particular encouraging. Sounds like some old curmudgeon wrote this one. I brought the cup closer to my eyes to see who had authored the saying, and nearly spilled the entire contents on myself from shock. The writer’s name, one of my college professors. dredged up from my mind’s basement, brought back an ugly memory.
Being the idealistic new Christian, I started college with hopes and dreams of communicating my faith in every way possible; and as a person with way too many words to keep to herself; I decided I’d be an English major. Ever since first grade I had had my nose in a book. I ate my morning cereal, did dishes and even bathed while reading. And writing…well, it had always been a great outlet for my creativity. As a sixth grader, having an essay posted in our local newspaper’s “Youth Said It” column, I caught the bug to put my words down on paper. Becoming an English major and teaching high school students how to connect the dots between their brain and the paper excited me. I dove into my classes with gusto. The classes challenged me but I kept up with the work load.
About a year into my major I took a class from the head of the English dept. I wouldn’t say faculty thought of this man as a god, but the professor who was one of the most well-known poets in America didn’t lack for a fan club on campus.
I started peeling off my essays for his class, naively proud of how eloquently I expressed myself on paper. To my chagrin, Professor Poet returned my compositions with red marks that resembled a road map to failure. He penned little personal notes like, “I think you might reconsider your course of study,” or “Are you sure you want to be an English major?” The comments, written in scarlet pen, whittled away my self-confidence. At the end of the semester I caved in and sought another major.
Chalk one up for the Enemy.
It took me years to gather up enough confidence to write again. Finally in my forties I started to attend writing conferences that helped me turn my passion into paid published articles and with that, a speaking opportunity at a writers’ conference.
Back home in my office, I deposited the white and green coffee cup onto a shelf as a reminder of when I’d fumbled around for my identity. I had allowed a professor to hijack my dreams. And then, down in my spirit I heard a whisper from my creator breathe the words oh so softly, “You once listened to a mere man about your future, now listen to Me.”
Thankfully, God has the last say in our lives. I’ve been blessed to have published several articles and am under contract for my second book. But every time I look at that Starbucks cup I know the cup speaketh. God used a plain cardboard cup with a quote from a forgotten college professor to teach me a lesson; don’t listen to an expert. Listen to the Expert.