on long days and dry wells and making sense of both
"How's the writing going?" a kind friend asks, and I wonder what to say. Should I say I can't make myself get up or should I say that the rejection letters have taken the wind out of my sails or should I say that the well is dry and thanks for reminding me? It's all true, in varying degrees.
"It's not." I reply in regards to the writing.
"Not going. Not coming. Not happening. Just not."
This conversation happens. A lot. And I'm not always sure what to make of it.
On one hand, I love that there are people in my life who are on this writing journey with me, people who have read rough rough drafts and met the people in my head and heard me drone on and on about query letters and celebrated when agents take a little nibble. Those people have shared my disappointment and frustration, have loved me well in the middle of it all. And they ask because they know it matters to me and I matter to them.
On the other hand, there's a part of me that feels like, "Can we all just pretend I didn't try to write a novel? Can we act like that didn't happen and we're not here and there's no one out there sending me 'thanks but no thanks' letters? OK? Can we do that?"
Oh, sheesh. A few paragraphs in and this melodramatic already. Sorry about that.
Anyways, all that to say, I have all these mixed feeling about my novel and about writing and art and creating in general. It thrills me, this writing thing. It feeds me and helps me make sense of my life and there's a part of me that is so very me when I write.
But it also drains me. It judges me. It asks things of me that I fear I don't have to give- time and determination and heart and courage to step in when all I really want is to hide under the covers and eat M&M's. Writing forces me to step up to the plate, to face my own fear in a way that is exhilarating and terrifying.
Come to think of it, writing is a lot like parenting in that way. I love being a mom. In many ways I feel like I was made to mom, I feel so at home in the role, like there's a deep place in my soul that is doing what it was created to do. Raising kids is worthy and weighty and costly and good, and I love to give my life to that each day.
But mothering also drains me. It judges me. And some days I fear that it asks things of me that I don't have to give- time and determination and heart and courage to step in when all I really want is to hide under the covers and eat M&M's. (Notice the common themes of my life: fear, courage, craving chocolate...)
And so here I am. A mom longing to write. A writer grasping for words. A creative heart trying to find joy in the rhythms of the day (I call it rhythms because the word "routines" leaves a bad taste in my mouth....thus needing an M&M).
And each day comes and goes and sometimes I worry that today wasn't enough, that I wasn't enough in the middle of it. We missed our Bible story again. We're stuck on the same verse in our scripture memory. Meltdowns far exceeded teachable moments. Our homeschooling reality is a far cry from my homeschool vision. My kitchen floor looks like a hamster cage despite the fact that I sweep constantly. The laundry piles up and the dust settles on top of itself and how can kids not find socks when all I do is mate socks. I think back on the day and see that I was lacking in joy or lacking in patience or just...lacking.
Lately, I've been thinking of the Proverbs 31 woman. I have a lot of thoughts on that, thoughts that rock the boat a bit on traditional interpretation of that passage, which we can save for another day. But in particular, I've been thinking of how she "can laugh at the days to come." Traditionally, I've been taught that this ability to laugh is due to her uber-preparedness, her super planning and hyper-on-top-of-it-all state. Tomorrow? Next week? Ten years? Ha! Bring it on!
But lately I've been thinking that maybe she doesn't laugh because she has it all together and the days can do nothing to defy her.
Perhaps she laughs because she doesn't take herself too seriously.
Perhaps she laughs in wonder at how God will bring calm out of this chaos He's given her.
Maybe she laughs at the thought of all she has to do, all that rests on her, and she meets that challenge with a light heart.
Maybe her husband is just really funny. OK, probably not that one.
Still- there's a light heart there that I want to not just imitate but truly embody. I want to see my future, my tomorrow and my next week and my ten years, through hope-tinted glasses.
I want to laugh at the days to come.
So where does that leave me? I guess I feel the urge to merge those two loves, to mother and write with hope and courage. To reject the idea of being my best self and lay hold of the call to follow Jesus with all He's made me to be.
To let go of performance and find peace in the enoughness of Jesus, that's where I want to be. I think that's a place of laughter, of joy unexplained, of life found even in the longest of days.
So that being said, we're still here. Taking the days one at a time. Thinking about this great challenge to love our Savior and our children well. The days are long but fleeting somehow, and the paradox of time crawling while it races never ceases to amaze me.
But we're here. Together. And there's a goodness in that that grounds me and gives me hope.
Hope to you, friend. May you find it in you to face today with courage and meet tomorrow with laughter.