I’ve been writing a book. There, I’ve said it. I haven’t made it common knowledge mainly out of fear of not being able to finish what I’ve started and then having to explain to everyone who asked how things were going that I failed. Also, it’s going by at a snail’s pace. I don’t get to write until all the kids are tucked into bed each night, and by that time I’m mentally exhausted. It’s a pretty good night if I’ve produced a couple of paragraphs with some semblance of cohesive thought by the time I stumble into my own bed. At this rate I’ll be lucky to complete the book by the time my children are in college.
At least that’s what I was thinking the other day until talking with a group of women about Facebook. Oh, Facebook…We were discussing how most people only ever present the very best versions of themselves on FB—their perfect homes, perfect families, perfect vacations…perfect food (I still don’t get why people post pics of the food they’re eating. I’m sorry. I just don’t.)—and how we often walk away feeling so inadequate, covetous, and ungrateful for the things we do have.
It all got me thinking about honesty and about how I present myself to the world; how it’s so much easier and safer to present the neat version of myself instead of the messy, self-doubting, or cynical version of me that I often fear will be rejected.
Safer…I’ve been wrestling a lot with the idea that so much of modern, Christian art and literature is safe—safe, sterile, and innocuous. It doesn’t make anyone feel anything but cozy. It’s not dangerous enough.
All of this is to say that I’ve scrapped the whole damn book. I’ve put a big, fat red X through the words and tossed them aside, which is hard to do because these are words that I’ve written and somehow they are an extension of me! But it needed to happen. Most of what I’d written was innocuous.
Instead, I’ve started writing about the truly dark night of my own soul, about being in the clutches of severe depression and about contemplating death. Only on a technicality can I say that I wasn’t suicidal. I was much too afraid of God’s wrath to ever pull a trigger or throw myself from a cliff. But I wanted an end, and begged God for one every chance I got. He, it seemed, was always there wagging His finger or rolling His eyes. I hated existence—both God’s and mine—and every waking moment for me was sheer torture. But somehow God drew me out of all of this, and I began to learn what it means to be the child of God, to be loved and to find true healing. I began to hope. And hope, when entertained, begets courage. Courage begets faith. And faith, well, faith can move mountains. I am not at all the person I once was.
Pelagianism—perhaps that’s a topic for another post.
As it turns out, it’s a lot easier to write about the real me than it is to write about the neatly fabricated me (though I will say the neat version of me is a heck of a lot funnier and smarter than I really am). Who knows, maybe I’ll finish the whole thing before the kids head off to high school.
And for those of you wondering (and asking) when I’m going to write something funny again I promise it’s coming. I’m planning an entire post just for you and I think I’ll entitle it “As You Like It.” And, yes, that’s a reference to Shakespeare.