Nature or Nurture?

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

I recently put my maiden name into one of those “learn about your ancestry” sites and this is what it said –

Lee: Irish: reduced Americanized form of Ó Laoidhigh ‘descendant of Laoidheach’, a personal name derived from laoidh ‘poem’, ‘song’ (originally a by name for a poet).

That was not a surprise. I knew I had descended from a long line of storytellers. I spent enough time around my Grandfather, not to mention my father and five uncles, to know the truth of it. They were a raucous bunch prone to argue and sometimes fight, but when one of them started telling a story the room would go quiet with respect. Of course, when he was done, they’d all say he was “full of the blarney,” but that was taken as a compliment received with a smile of pride.

When I read where the name Lee came from, it made me think about that old debate – is it nurture or nature?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. My mother often said I was born with a pencil in my hand. I can’t imagine my life without writing. It’s simply part of me, yes, part of my nature.

But I also wonder where I would be now without all the nurture I’ve had along the way. My parents encouraged me to keep that pencil in my hand. My teachers too, from grade school to university, nudged me to keep doing it and taught me a lot about what good writing looked like. Then I had the privilege of attending writing conferences where I learned from those who were further along than I in this journey. I owe them all a great debt.

The same goes for my spiritual life. I was created to be a child of God, created in His image, the scriptures tell me. But I also wonder where I would be in my spiritual life if it had not been for all the nurturers along the way. There are many who have encouraged me, strengthened my faith and sometimes convicted me about something that was off base in my life. I owe them all a great debt too, an even greater debt than those who encouraged me to write. These spiritual mentors have left footprints for me to follow that will lead to an eternal reward.

Nurture or nature. As I look back on my life, both in terms of writing and in terms of spiritual things, I realize it isn’t an either/or scenario, but a both/and scenario. The most amazing thing to me is that it was all planned, the threads of my writing life and my spiritual life woven together in a pattern that no human hand could have designed.

I love the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, … you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you …”(Isaiah 46:3,4).

What an amazing God we serve! What a privilege to serve Him as writers in His kingdom!

One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?




Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.