You have searched me, Lord, and youknow me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. -Psalm 119:1-6

I wrote my first Academy Award for Best Actress speech when I was twelve years old; I practiced it in the mirror and darned if I didn’t wring a couple of tears out of myself with my beautiful, gracious words. You see, I knew that I was a Meryl Streep-level talent and no one was going to stand in the way of me bestowing that talent on the world at large. NO ONE.

Well, expect maybe… Jesus.

When I started studying the Bible in 1990, I literally could feel myself being “hemmed in, behind and before” by God’s Word. My ego, my dreams, my plans, my life, everything had to be turned over; God “laid his hand” on me, and pressed. Hard. And it hurt so badly that I cried. I cried during my studies, I cried during church, I cried during prayer, I cried at the Dallas BBQ restaurant where I was supposed to be eating chicken and fellowshipping with the sisters. I recall one day after service, these same sisters sat in a circle around me for hours while I wailed; seriously, the maintenance man came in to clean up the chairs and we were still there. Thank God for these (exhausted) women.

Ultimately, I decided to believe the words of the Psalmist: you have searched me, Lord, and you know me. For all of my plans and schemes, I came to believe that God knew me better than I knew myself. And I decided to love Jesus more than I loved myself, which is a whole lotta love, you dig what I’m sayin’?

Fast forward a couple of challenging disciple years to a day when I was so tired of auditioning for roles that were sexual, demeaning to women, or just plain worldly, that I thought: “I could write myself a better part than these”. So… I did.

The play that I wrote with my partner, “Maybe Baby, It’s You” got two off-Broadway productions and is now published and has been performed all over the country. We co-wrote a Disney Channel Original Movie, THESWAP, which was a big hit for the Mouse, and we now have a feature film, FOREVER LOST, in development with Broken Road Productions. I wrote comedy sketches for many Women’s Day gatherings and a number of versions of the Hope for Kids show, The Story Tree Gang (my favorite being the “West Side Story” parody where the warring factions were meats and vegetables vying for control of their “turf”– the refrigerator). And the first book in my middle grade/YA fantasy series, SLEEPWAKERS, entitled “Sam Saves the Night” will be published by Hyperion on October 1.

You see, God did know me—and better than I knew myself. Remember the preteen Oscar speech? I thought I was writing it because I was going to become a famous actress; God knew I was writing it because I loved to write.

Mind. Blown.

God has graciously allowed me to use the gifts he gave me to speak his words into the theater, on film, in books—and to all the people I come in contact with through these venues. It is a much richer and more fulfilling life than I ever would have had left to my own wonky desires. And so, I cry out with the psalmist, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain”.

Oh, and my eternal apologies to the Dallas BBQ on 72ndstreet in Manhattan—it wasn’t your chicken that made me cry, it was the wonders of God.

-Shari Simpson

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