You have something we desperately need. I don’t know what it is, but you do. Why are you keeping it from us? Why are you apologizing for it? Why are you pulling me aside at church, sending whispered notes to my inbox, timid with your art and the hands that make it? Why do those hands shake? Why are we all so terrified to open our eyes and live?
I know why, at least for me. Time molds and kneads life into different shapes as we go along. We feel brave and then we get scared. We feel honest and then we hide. I flew to the Philippines last year and my ribs crushed in on my heart so tightly I couldn’t breathe. They don’t have food. And when I got home to my freezer, I pulled out the tenderloin and cut the potatoes and made my family a meal. I felt the sharp pain of knowing there are families living less than a mile away and I don’t think they have food, either.
A month later, my father-in-law died and we rode as a family in the backseat of a black Cadillac to the grave where he would be buried. We sat in our Sunday best in the middle of hot July. No one wanted to be there. Who would? We sat small under that tent, watching dust return to dust.
The book came out and I talked about that because you know, you have to. Because this book? Is my guts. And also? My job. When your book comes out, you’ll do it too, you will. Write a book and your real life blends in with the real life of thousands of readers. Thousands.
The difference between the reader and the writer? The reader is hidden. The writer is laid bare.
The skeptics who live inside my head whispered and then they roared and I imagined spending a little time on the run. I was sure all this was a mistake. I felt compelled to apologize for something but I didn’t know what.
As it turns out, this is all I’ve got, for better or worse. I’m standing with hands splayed open in front of me and all that keeps coming out is this. Sometimes I wish I had the hands of a chef or a kindergarten teacher or a marketing executive or a surgeon or a candle-maker. Anything but this.
Even as I say that, I know the chefs and the kindergarten teachers and the candle-makers must think the same thing sometimes. Because they, too, have something we desperately need. So do I. So do you.
There is one life and it is given to me, but it isn’t mine. The thing about Jesus is that death doesn’t win, life comes from Him, and we have all been set wildly free.
Tomorrow the sun comes up and the dog needs food and I take another breath and so do you. How can we even begin to meet any need we see in the world if we don’t first admit we have something to offer?
God calls you his poiema, the kind that moves, the kind who has hands and opens them up for the task of the day and whispers not my will but yours. So let’s pick up the pen, the pan, the brush. Let’s open our eyes, our hands, our hearts. Let’s see the fear then laugh in his face because somebody has to. Why not let it be us? Let’s carry on together.
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