“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
I haven’t written anything in over a week. So much for the “writing is my job and I will do it every day” pledge. My mind has been full, but I can’t seem to find a starting point.
Then Steve Jobs died. Like my brother, I first read the news on my iPhone, then opened my MacBook to get the full story while I listened to music downloaded from iTunes on my iPod. Thank you, Mr. Jobs. You were indeed a genius, an innovator, a world-changer. You were a stubborn, persistent dreamer. You never quit. You simplified what was once complex.
I crave more of that. I want to be brave. I want to do the hard things. Deep down, I want to change the world. I want God to breathe through me to bring a little more light into this dark, hopeless place.
Changing the world requires movement, preferably forward, and it seems to come in small steps rather than giant leaps. Faithfulness in the tasks right in front of you, one step at a time.
I considered quitting last week. A book deal dropped into the lap of one of my favorite bloggers, and my first reaction was jealousy, coupled with anger – and one usually joins the other. Why did the stars align for her? And why not me? How did she get this gig?
Then insecurity, coupled with insignificance. Every other blogger and her sister has written a book. Writing isn’t unique. Writers aren’t special. I’m wasting my time.
I took a breath. I rested in truth. Light shining into the darkness is a good thing for all of us, no matter who does the shining. I should not – I cannot – obscure new bursts light with my own insecurities. If her book – or any one else’s book – births more hope, more joy, then I should celebrate.
I re-read her daughter’s profound observation: Sometimes we have to walk to our future even when it feels like we want to run.
So I prayed. I stepped into that wilderness of unpredictable unknowns. Help me. Help me walk when I want to run. Help me take the small, slow, painful steps. Help me trust the scenic route.
And, inspired by another writer friend’s blog, I prayed for a guide, a mentor. Providential, miraculous, divine crossings of paths with someone to whom God whispers, This one. And He points to me. And the guide comes alongside me and tells me where to step.
Priscilla reminds me that miracles dot the wilderness landscape. You walk. You end up somewhere between a big rock and a hard place, and God opens up an escape route. You walk. You get thirsty, and water appears. Ick. This water is bitter. God makes it sweet. You walk some more. You get hungry. God provides food. (Exodus 14 & 15)
And you keep walking. The tour plan rarely makes sense, but it has a significant purpose. Often the purpose has nothing to do with the finish line and everything to do with the condition of the runner.
Or, in this case, the baby stepper.
Stepping or running, I must move forward through this unfamiliar territory. I must believe I have a purpose, that writing has a purpose. Even if I never publish this theoretical book of mine, my words today matter. Today God will breathe, even if my blog is one of ten gazillion blogs out there. I have to believe that if you are reading the words in front of you now, He has a reason. He has something to say to you.
One of my favorite writers, Ann Lamott, taught a writing class, and her students asked her
“So why does our writing matter, again?”…
Because of the spirit, I say. Because of the heart. Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
More light. More hope. More joy. Community. Interconnectedness. That is why God has given me the ability, the calling to write. His purpose for me – to breathe a cool breeze of life into a stifling hot and humid planet -is the reason I keep taking baby steps. That is why I have to keep praying and hoping and watching for miracles. Life and breath are the reasons to simplify my thoughts, to write what I know, what is true, what is authentic. It is why I open my fists, allow my expectations to sift through my fingers and fall to the ground, cup my empty hands, lift them to the heavens, and wait to be filled with the miraculous.