Here I am enjoying a little homemade peach wine, an anniversary gift from our friends Dan and Marie. Marie makes the wine all on her own and it’s such a treat. Thank you Marie!
So I have a little confession to make. I’m in one of those phases of self-whatever. Self-apathy. Self-editing. Self-serious-censorship. And also, a little summertime thrown in. To prove that, I had to just now go out to the front room and ask Charlie, Elliott and Paul to help me figure out what word I was looking for (it’s like, when you bleep something? When you prohibit?…) and Charlie got the word.
As a writer, this happens from time to time. You get stunted, stalled, nervous. You get judgmental (of others) which leads to that times ten with yourself. Know what I mean? If you do, you complete me. I love you. My brother sent me a picture of something he’s reading for college, something written by Anne Lamott titled “Poopy First Drafts.” She used the ess-eighche word, but you get the drift. It’s a reality but a terrible place to be when the words are jumbled in your brain and can’t find their way out for a variety of reasons.
You know what holds me back? Well, Imma gonna tell you.
Fear holds me back from saying what I want to say. From just putting it out there. So I figure, you know what? Let’s give Fear nowhere to hide. Let’s just put it SO FAR out there that it can’t lurk in anymore corners of my mind that (here I go, putting it OUT THERE) that Satan can’t feed me any lies about why I need to keep my thoughts to myself.
Fear, let me list the ways.
I’m afraid that by just saying what is right here in my heart, that:
1. It’s dumb (deep down we’re all still twelve)
2. I might seem un-self-aware.
3. What’s the difference between being authentic and being a train-wreck?
4. What if I say something that, in the course of me expressing my thoughts, is hurtful and offensive to someone?
5. It’s not on your wavelength.
6. All of this combined into one great big swirling mass of mascara-running train-wreckery bad-assery.
7. Oops. Mom! Sorry for that bad word!
Okay, seriously though. I’m jumping off here. Lately I’ve been hearing this word, FEARLESS, and I don’t know what it means for me except that for my writing it’s time to quit being afraid. It’s time to quit thinking about it so much. It’s time to stop trying to figure out how to say what I want to say in a way that makes sense to everyone (except, here’s the thing, I’m trying to meet the needs of people I don’t really even know and that’s where you have to just be yourself and let God sort out the details can I get an amen?)
I want to end this rambling (God bless you for sticking with me) with a little story. I’m pushing through a lot of things telling you this. It’s on my heart and I’m sharing it and I’m ignoring the little varmint in my brain that says “if you share this you will sound like a braggart” and you’re going to have to forgive me in this season because that little voice? I can no longer tell if it’s common sense or the devil trying to keep me from doing what God wants me to do. Because that little voice gets me to walk aways from the keyboard every single fah-lipping time lately. And if that’s common sense then I’m tired of it and pretty bored too. I’m ready to tell my story dagnabbit.
A few years ago, a billion years ago, I worked at the local newspaper as a staff writer. I did obits and happy news, to be honest, which at the time wasn’t my favorite but in hindsight was amazing. Really.
Each week I would drive out to a neighboring small town and go to the local mall and basically accost people and ask them the Question of the Week. That was my job. To ask the elderly and out-of-towners what they thought of the QotW. What do you think of [insert issue here]? Oh you haven’t formulated an informed opinion? Care to formulate one here? Aannnnd GO!
My partner in crime in this escapade was a lady named Sally who had recently moved back to town after being away a few years. She had graduated high school locally (several years before me), went off to college and then did her thing in the big city and came home for a while. She was a photographer at the paper and once a week we’d load up in the car and head out and ask the questions and I would write it all down and she’d snap some headshots.
In the mean time (in between time), we’d walk the mall and look for willing victims, or drive to the mall or perhaps we went other places too I can’t remember. We’d talk. We share about our lives — my grand adventures as being a newlywed twenty-two-year old, her having done her thing. And I recognized, as we talked, that my take and life experience were so different from hers. Where she was coming from, where she had been, was so very different. To be honest, I never wanted her to feel anything weird towards my small little world of being happily married at the ripe old age of twenty-two. Of going to Mass. Of all the things I did in my happy little world. I didn’t lie about any of it, but I will be perfectly honest, I didn’t try to advertise it either. I’m big into earning the right to be heard. I never want people to feel like I’m shoving anything down their throat.
A few years later, after I’d left my newspaper job to attend graduate school and then had a few babies, I ran into Sally one night at a restaurant in town. She was out with friends and we saw each other and hugged and it was so good to see her. And she told me something that made me blink back tears right there on the verandah of the restaurant.
“I really feel,” she told me through the din of the music and laughter, “that God sent you into my life in that time.”
She told me that after our time together at that job, she reconnected with her faith and found her way back to God. Frankly, I was dumbfounded.
Here I was trying to tone down my faith, not wanting to be That Person who shoved their beliefs down your throat and made you feel like they had all the answers and still, God found a way. I feel [dumb/stupid/using a two dollar word here] for admitting that because I’m still really humbled that God used me in that way, despite my Peter tendencies. God still found a way to allow me to be a part of something really beautiful in the life of another person and I was humbled, so very humbled.
So what am I saying? Oh heck, I don’t know. Maybe I’m saying it’s time to stop hiding behind fear. Maybe I’m saying I’m ready to jump off this cliff and do what God wants and hope he will work with me, that he’ll continue to work with me and that I’ll be a more willing participant. Maybe I’m saying I’m ready to push through all the doubts and self-judgementalism and fear of train-wreckery (but seriously Lord, please no train-wrecks) and just acknowledge that I’m here Lord send me. Help it not be too painful, but let each of us (me included) go where you would have us go and be who you would have us be. Give us the humility to hear your voice and not rely so much on our own understanding of what the world needs. It might be more. It might be less. But here we go, Lord. Send us.