Whether I ever have my work published beyond the odd magazine article or two, I am a writer.
In the core of my self there is a place always thinking of stories and writing poems and outlining topics I would teach. Words are always swirling around in my head.
A few mornings ago, when my husband and I were sitting together on the couch doing our coffee/wake-up thing, he came across this verse the other day in his Bible reading app:
Whoever heeds instruction is on the way to life, but whoever rejects a rebuke goes astray.
~Proverbs 10:17 (NRSV)
Since then that Proverb has been running around in my head in some sort of dance with all the other words in there. When I go to write something down, even if it’s my own private thoughts in a journal, there is usually at least a typo or two or a word scratched out. Even when the words come quickly and easily onto the page they don’t come perfectly.
In the privacy of my home scratching out a word or idea doesn’t sting, it’s just part of the creative process, the hunt for words that mesh with the verbal picture I am trying to paint. A typo isn’t a reason for embarrassment, but a natural outcome of typing. In the privacy of my home I know I am not perfect, at least not on the first try.
I think of myself as a person eager to learn and grow as a person. Until someone other than myself or God points out my mistakes.
Why is this a problem? It’s not like there are not many who enjoy having their errors pointed out, I’m not alone in this.Part of the problem is our culture. Out in the larger world there is a less friendly space to err. Typos on a blog are ridiculed. Scratched out words look like a mess. One mistake and you are labeled unredeemable.
But part of the problem is me. I don’t actively work to make it safe to correct me.
I get defensive over typos and simple errors that do need correction. I’ve never been a great speller. It’s not like I can afford to pay an editor, I have five kids you know.And while I am eager to learn, I am insecure at heart. I know many of my flaws but am afraid of having others point them out, even if it means I could work on them. I get scared of other people, afraid they will point out a part of myself that is a mess, someplace I've haven't yet begun to pull myself together.
Scared that maybe correction is rejection.
When Jesus walked the earth he talked to the people looking for wisdom about becoming like a child again. Jesus even went so far as to say we need to be born again.
What does that mean? For me, this day, it means I need to take a page from our youngest son. He’s never worried that if he trips and falls I will make fun of him. I know his feet or legs are growing and he’s constantly having to adjust for a changing body. There is no ridicule in our household for honest mistakes, there will be conversation and sometimes frustration, but not anger.
How does my son not walk around afraid of falling? He falls all the time. In fact he seems to relish his bruises.
Maybe it’s because my son also spends much of his day on or very near me. Maybe it’s because cuddled close after a fall he’s sure I love him.
When I’m far from God and I fall or someone corrects an honest mistake I act like a feral child. I snap at the hand that reaches out to help. In my fear I seek independence from everything and everyone.
When I sit on God’s lap, aware I am a child of God, when God’s arms are tight around me there is no room for the embrace of fear.
And I am better able to receive correction as I test out the world and falls as signs of growth.
He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
~Proverbs 27:7 (NIV)
In my writing it’s easy to see this truth. When I’m hungry to learn and grow I push aside fear and submit my work to my peers to be critiqued. Typos don’t even register as something to be up in arms over. I want to grow. I want to make the best use of this gift I have been given.
This is my prayer for the week:
May I always be hungry for you, God. May I never be satisfied with fear and hiding. Grant me the courage to climb into Your lap. In Your loving-mercy, wrap Your arms around me. Fill me with an awareness of Your presence.
I want to walk on the path of life.Amen.