November has me pondering the similarities between my recovery/therapy process (aka my desire to lead a Christian life) and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
Creating new content is fun. It’s also deceptive. I might hit the save button and think I’ve just done something truly genius. Then I read it a second time. Or I show it to my BHH and he asks for a ‘cone of safety’ before giving me his honest thoughts. I take another look and smack my head. It is hardly original…and why so many run-on sentences? What’s up, with, all, the, commas?
This verse from Ecclesiastes gives me comfort at that point. I’m just another grain of sand amongst millions; others have already thought of everything there is to think.
Relax. Let it go. Enjoy the process. Do it anyway. Just because you can.
I write and create fairly naturally, without thinking about it all that much–because words are trapped in my chest. If I don’t release them, like an exhaled breath, I will die.
But it is the editing and re-writing process that both intrigues, and frustrates me, the most.
Editing, like following Jesus, is examining what you really are, after the fact. When the moment of inspiration has past, the excitement fades, and our eyes adjust to the sudden bright light of reality; voila– we can see the errors. ALL. The. Errors. Similar to when prophets and apostles had direct encounters with the impossibly bright light of God. They were undone. They saw how much they fell short. They begged to be allowed to live after the encounter.
Book jackets and amazon suggestions compare writers to other writers, hoping to gain their readership by default. In life, though, Christians must make our comparison with God Himself, to whom none can compare and all fall short. After that, it is about trusting, on faith, that He has you covered through the shed blood of Jesus.
You repent. Then try to relax in that love and enter that rest. BUT. You also chisel away at the stuff that, on a second examination, you regretted. It takes knowledge of words, characterization and grammar to write. Just like it takes knowledge and familiarity with the Bible, to rework your life into that of a sincere Christian.
Here comes the editor, and it isn’t YOU. Turning fresh work in to an editor always made me sweat. Worse than going to the doctor or the dentist. I wanted to send Moses in my place, to the mountain of impossible light (aka my editor’s email), just like the Israelites did in the wilderness when they were afraid to get too close to God. What are they going to see that is wrong with me–this time? Seeing your word document come back to you with red slashes or comments like ‘clean this up’ ‘this is a disconnect’, and ‘what are you actually trying to say here’? Is not fun. I am often undone by the bright light. Then, when I recover, the real work begins. And it is work, at that point.
In the beginning of therapy I wanted to NaNoWriMo my way through in a few weeks. I thought I could have a finished product with a month or so of work and commitment. I thought my therapist would travel to God’s mountain for me, or at the very least with me.
I can hear some of you, who have been in recovery for years, laughing right now. I am laughing as well, at how naive I was back then.
And so therapy, and more importantly: my walk with Jesus, has taught me to be more cautious of the creation process…I am training my brain to take thoughts captive before they can start messing with my central nervous system (sending out stress hormones and physical symptoms of anxiety).
I ask myself more questions than I did prior. Do I really want to put that thought, or that gripe, or that idea into the world right now? Do I really want to say yes to what this person is asking of me? Am I really in agreement with what is being put forth here? Is this feeling something that I need to work on myself before I share it with anyone else?
Going slow, in creating the content of your own heart and mind, can lessen ugly re-reads and harsh edits.
Furthermore, a therapist is simply an editor of your content.
He or she is not God. It is tempting to give a therapist entirely too much control over your decisions about your self. There were some times in past writing pursuits where I disagreed with an editor. “But I put that there intentionally to make a point”. “This detail is part of the character I am developing in the protagonist.”
When an editor and writer don’t agree; the writer is supposed to have more sway since the writer is the creator, the one seeing the big picture.
Likewise, I have realized that I cannot let a therapist actually write, or re-write, my life for me. A therapist can polish, point out what needs work. But I know that it was God who created my story, and it was He who entrusted me to write, and re-write, it.
I walk toward that mountain, with its flashes of bright light and thundering clouds, alone.