I said something out loud last week, something that only my husband and very closest people knew has been brewing in my heart for two decades. It’s a little big dream. Sometimes really little, and sometimes really big: it floats back and fourth between being buried in real responsibilities and burning to come out as if absolutely nothing is in its way. But lately, even though the responsibilities are bigger and heavier and feeling much more like I cannot do this all than at any other time in my life, this little big dream is trying to get out—forcing its way in to my thoughts and daily rhythms, sometimes invited, but more often than not showing up like a surprise houseguest that I must quickly change the dirty sheets and vacuum the guest bedroom for.
(And now that I write it, that is a fairly accurate metaphor for what this dream feels like.)
I want to write a book. A real one. I want to force myself down a path of focus and discipline and hearing from the Lord; crafting all my thoughts, my fears, what I’m learning, how I’m failing, where I’m growing and how the gospel enters in and turns all of that on its head, and I want to put that journey into prose that feels like having coffee with a good friend or wrapping up in the softest blanket. I want to write words that resonate, that connect us all by the common threads of never measuring up but longing to be enough. I want to tell the truth about myself, sharing stories that make readers feel like we’ve been friends for a lifetime. But mostly, I want it all to point to Jesus.
That last part is the real dream. Living a life and leaving a legacy that gives God glory.
But here is the hard part: they say you need a platform. The people who know about book writing stuff say you need to have a following, a social media presence, and a significant corner of the internet carved out that readers actually stop by and say hello in. They say people need to sorta-kinda-already-know who you are.
Well I don’t like any of that, not even a little bit. Because that advice feeds an idol in my life that I desperately want to leave at the foot of the cross; broken in pieces right there so that nothing stands between me and an unhindered gaze up at Jesus. (Jesus lets us look up at him, let’s not move past that miracle without a moment of awe). I am too quick to take comfort in the approval of others while my husband is concerned about our time together. I am all too easily comforted when my words about motherhood draw applause while my children are shooed away for the fourth time while I finish crafting them. I easily mistake writing about faith and justice for actually living faith and justice. And that’s the thing about writing: when you have done it long enough, you start to get real good with words but can become real bad with life. And since only real life counts, I want to put all my stock there.
But there remains this dream to create, and my heart and mind long to do it. So the only way forward, the only way I can think of to make this houseguest comfortable while still being a woman of great faith in Jesus and true devotion to her family, is to pray, to offer this process back to One who I believe started it in me.
I’m praying big to stay small.
God, I am so very grateful for the cross, where every bit of my faith is centered. It’s where you took all the sin, all the ugliness, and all of the condemnation of my life and burned a path right through it for me to walk on straight to you.
I ask for forgiveness for the times my feet have strayed from that path towards ones that give the illusion of fulfillment, the ones that promise happiness but deliver emptiness, the ones that scream in bright lights ‘you’ll love it here’ but end up trapping me in a darkness of self-absorption.
I pray that this desire to create is guarded by your Word and fenced in with a reverence for the gospel that every sentence I write submits to.
I ask for inspiration that is saturated in the Holy Spirit, because on my own I have nothing of any lasting value to offer.
And I thank you for words, because in the right hands—yours—they are such a gift. May the ones you give to me always tell stories that make you beautiful, because you are… more so than I would ever be able to say.
When all is said and done, keep me small, Jesus. Give me a work to do, but keep me and my pride out of the way of getting it done.
You are so, so good to us, God. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, Jesus.