I am sitting on the shaded porch of a bar/restaurant called “Castaway” in Holden Beach, North Carolina, looking out over the white sandy beaches and rolling Atlantic ocean waves. So much beauty stretched out for miles and miles. There’s loud country/pop music coming out of the speakers above my head, and social chattering filling the space between large wooden beams. I have a coffee, a water, and plate of chips and salsa (that I can’t eat because they’re flour chips not corn… I didn’t think to ask!), with my computer open before me, my fingers plunking across the keys. Life is remarkably good.
I slipped down the road from our home-base, a beautiful, spacious beach house given as a gift to Brent’s family one week every summer, that we fill with 8 adults and 9 kids, 9 and under. We make good use of the space, but cherish the moments of quiet escape and extra naps provided in rhythmic rotation to the adults.
I have been planning to write a series on loneliness for some time now, but find my book requiring most all of my creative energies these days. I was looking forward to posting my first one today, but instead, opened an e-mail from my friend who is editing my book, keeping me accountable when chapters are due to submit, according to my own deadlines. Chapters 1-5 were returned to me with editing comments and always notes of encouragement. As per usual, tears came to my eyes as I read Christin’s reaffirmation about my book… She believes in me so well and I am incredibly thankful for her support. It is a massive project that requires a steady stream of tears as I dive back into the black grief of the past, and then jump up into the new warmth of present living, and work to describe the journey in between.
It is amazing how vulnerable it feels to put your heart to paper for the world to read. Every word flows like blood, pumped directly from my heart onto the page, with the hope that it will give life to someone… As Hemingway is reported to have said, and my friend Laura has often quoted to me, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.”
Brent taught me that there are certain decisions we make, certain ways we invest or put ourselves out there, knowing in advance that someone “will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you” (Matthew 7:6, NLT). He taught me that as leaders, you learn to forgive people in advance, as a part of your decision to invest, extending grace to “pigs” (I hesitate to use such a strong word, but it is the imagery of this passage of Scripture) before they have risen to occasion and shown their face. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, knowing that I am sharing some of my most precious memories, ones that I treasure almost as much as my very life. For someone to read my book and not honor the loss it describes, or compare thoughtlessly, weighing my loss with someone else’s on a scale of judgmental pride, the way we often do… That will hurt. It will hurt to be judged and criticized, I think mostly by other grievers who desperately need their own losses affirmed…
But I really want to write this book (and it is my heart that it will affirm them!). I need to offer my lifeblood to the page in the hope that it will bring life to someone, maybe many. It seems ordained by God for me to do this. So, I pray for grace in advance, as I am writing, bleeding, for grace to cover the ways that some may “trample the pearls,” usually without even knowing it. And I pray that they will be blessed nonetheless.
I know that as I bleed, the light of Christ continues to shine in my soul, working steadily to complete the work, to finish what it started, to heal a broken soul and turn it into something new, something real, something true.
Father, may each member of your body remember You as our Maker today. You are the One who knows us, who sees us, who made us, and who is forming us on the Potter’s wheel (Jeremiah 18:1-6). And you yourself know the cost of our bleeding unto life, for it is You who bled that we might live. May we fellowship with You in your death and your resurrection, and join the work you have begun in us, knowing with confidence that You are faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).