You know when you haven’t seen an old friend in what has felt like ages, and suddenly you have the chance to sit across the table from them and actually bring them up to present and pick up where you left off? The whole drive to that small corner table at the coffee shop, you’re compiling the list in your mind of things you want to tell them and questions you want to ask. You arrive, place your order, and slide into that worn brown leather seat only to fall silent to a searching mind that can’t find a resting place. So much to say, and suddenly, nothing comes out. If you’re anything like me, the aftermath of the moment you realize this conversation is going to be more like stumbling forward than the effortless ways you left off, this is the moment you start questioning everything, wondering if the way the silence stings like it hadn’t before is actually code for ‘we aren’t friends anymore’. And then I get sad and start writing the obituary for our friendship, certain it’s doomed.
That’s what writing is like.
When I keep showing up to the table, making it a weekly habit, words just come easily. I know what I’m going to say before I sit down and the flow feels natural. Ironically, when I go forever without writing, no matter how many times I have the thought in a day oh I could write about that when I sit down I’m sitting down into silence with no clue where to begin and what thoughts to settle into. And suddenly I imagine my past life as a writer has no future. Who am I kidding to be picking this up again? Who am I to think anyone is going to read this? And the lies run laps around me and my hesitant hands, unable to follow any line of thought, certain that I am indeed not a writer.
Picking up things that we know we are called to that we’ve neglected for far too long is difficult. Not only am I trying to trace the strings of solid thoughts I’ve been holding captive in my brain for this moment (now so many abandoned strands that they seem to be a big knotted hairball of a mess), but I’m sitting down in front of the mirror I’ve been avoiding. Looking straight into the heart of the matter and waving my white flag in surrender.
So I feel like a child leaving the principal’s office right now. Isn’t it a strange thing? I know though my avoiding these trains of thoughts to be written hasn’t necessarily been a pleasing aroma to the Father, I also know that I am in the grip of grace. I know He has forgiven me for my lack of dedication in my writing, if there is a thing to be forgiven. Maybe that sounds strange to be ‘forgiven for not writing’? But if God gave you something that you knew in your Spirit was a weapon to be wielded and you were ignoring it, you would feel the same.
So anyways, all of this to say here I am, like a cat holding everything in and here’s the hairball. Again, a strange thought but I’m not opposed to things getting weird if they’re accurate. And if you’re a writer or gifted in any area and you’ve come to terms that though you’ve neglected it for years its time to sit down and actually exercise the ability, you know that this imagery is a great description of the hot seat. Maybe.
So what have you been avoiding? Have you disappeared from things and felt a tinge of guilt, knowing that maybe you are justifying letting go of something that isn’t meant to be let go of?
A couple weeks ago, my husband decided to make a fire. Nothing new or extraordinary, including the part where he grabbed the gas can and walked over to the fire to really help accelerate things. But it definitely turned into a different experience as the tip of the gas can caught fire. Things started escalating quickly, and the four kids and I yelled (might not be a strong enough word) for him to drop the gas can and get away. The brush around the outside of the fire pit caught fire, and I didn’t see my husband getting out without catching on fire with the four children watching. Somehow he threw the can, fire around him in spots quickly getting worse, and got away unscathed. After getting out, he tried to throw a bucket of water on the fire instead of calling the fire department incase the woods caught fire. As soon as the water made contact with the fire, the flames exploded to at least double the size. We had to call the fire department, and within minutes I was hiding embarrassed in the house while my husband stood outside with the fully dressed fire fighters and police men, waiting for the fire to die down to make sure it didn’t spread.
When the firetruck and policemen left, and I retreated outside to see what they said, he told me something that has stuck with me— when he dumped that water on the fire and the gas can, the reason it exploded was because there was still more gas in the can to be burned.
Are you trying to trying to extinguish something that still has more gas? Sure, sometimes its more like us sitting with our flint over the fire, blowing with all our might to try to keep something alive when God’s breathing life elsewhere and asking us to move. But what about the things He has placed inside of us that feel like a living river pulsing through our bodies, like something is just activated within us that can’t be activated otherwise? Are we giving Him back His time to use those beautiful gifts? Are we asking the Lord to send us, and really He is asking us if He can use those things He’s placed inside of us? A moment of really coming to terms with the idea of being a living sacrifice that is desired by the King of Kings. How do I bring you glory today? Maybe it’s as simple as doing the things that He has planted inside of us to bring life.
It’s your turn, love. Break the silence. Spill your guts.