The essence of this weekly writing practice of Five Minute Friday: Five minutes on a weekly prompt, no editing, just free-flowing words and stream-of-consciousness. And a supportive writing community hosted by Kate Motaung – head over to fiveminutefriday.com to learn more.
Twenty years ago I was in my 20s. What an odd statement, mostly because it makes me feel so old! Although I wouldn’t go back to my 20s – let me make that clear – it was quite a decade of change. I graduated from college; taught school; volunteered in youth ministry and college ministry and bilingual kids’ ministry; pursued a different calling to seminary and counseling; got married; and lived in Chicago, South Carolina, and Philadelphia. I look back at my 20s as a decade of discovery – discovering who God made me (and who I wasn’t), who God was calling me to share life with, and how I wanted to serve the broken world in which I found myself.
I’m going to be honest: as soon as my timer finished, I felt disappointed in how little I had written and I didn’t want to post this. Yet as someone who believes that vulnerability and imperfection actually creates connection and isn’t a barrier to it – I’m going to publish this post. Some prompts are more inspiring than others, and some days I write more fluidly than others. This is part of the struggle of being and becoming a writer. Too often it’s the polished words that find their way into my hands, and I have to remember that’s rarely where they began. Every book has a humble, often bumbling, beginning. So I’m reminding myself of that with today’s words.
Last weekend I was a retreat speaker on a topic that is my story, “When good girls get it all wrong.” I hope to post some vignettes from that retreat here soon, but this week has held recovery and rest – with the unexpected twist of nursing my twin daughters to health after a dual strep diagnosis on Tuesday. It’s been *quite* the week.
So I return to my blog, to this space, eager to write and to reflect and to join you in your stories in some small way through these words posted to a screen which you will read on your screen wherever life finds you today.
“Writer” – the word thrills me and terrifies me. Thrilling because it is what I’ve been ever since my aunt gave me my first journal to record life in when I was 10 years old. Terrifying because to claim “writer” is to claim a dream that may not ever come to fruition in that full definition of being officially published. I am learning (and aren’t we always learning?) that regardless of whether I write a book that would be on Amazon or whether I continue to scribble my thoughts into pages of beloved journals or typewritten posts … I will always be “writer.”
Words bring life to thoughts, give expression to emotions that otherwise can undo me and confuse me and overwhelm me. But to see them on a page, all written out neatly and in order, it gives me hope that my emotions will follow at some point. And it becomes a starting point for that process. As an external processor who’s also a bit of an introvert, writing is the perfect nexus for expression without exhaustion. It can be (not always) exhausting to try to describe what I’m thinking and feeling and dreaming and hoping with another person. But to come to the refuge of a blank page in my favorite journal or a white screen in my favorite font. Well, then. Relief without asking anything in return. That is what writing can be. Unedited thoughts written to the great Editor of my soul. God who welcomes all of it. My words can’t hurt him (blissful thought as mine too often wound the very ones I love the most). He takes them – my words and the tangled emotions behind them – and he makes something beautiful out of it. He grants me some peace and clarity in return. He promises to guard these words which are my life. He softens my raw edges (and oh, how many I have!) – he, the great Writer of my story, highlights where I’ve gone wrong and covers all of it with his love.
Join me and the Five Minute Friday writing community in writing for 5 minutes unedited each Friday on a different topic given by Lisa Jo Baker. (Whose new book came out this week! Can’t wait to read it!)