Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can’t stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa – of all places.
My husband, Jay, says it’s like a mid-life crisis. He’s usually right, so I’ll believe him. This is the point in which a geared, passionate young woman, well-marinated in busyness and purpose raises her head and wonders, “Why? Why am I doing this again?”
This is about writing. It’s long been my companion, both feared and loved. Feared, because I don’t know what to make of it, what it will become, or what it will require of me. Loved, because it’s my way, my safe place, an undeniable and otherworldly process that guides me, grows me.
And yet, why exactly am I doing this writing thing? The question is like a fly in my eyes and ears, as I tap out late-night words to satisfy a deadline.
Fellow creative souls, risk-takers, and air-breathers can likely relate. After all, no one knocks on your door and passes you a note with your life's purpose and detailed plans of which steps to take on the road toward becoming.
Do you ever lift up your head, adjust your glasses, squint at your surroundings, and say, "Wait a sec. Am I seeing any of this clearly? I am in the right place... right?"
Writing guides say I should write to share information, that I should determine which is my area of expertise and establish my platform based on credentials and experiences. And, I should meet a need for my audience, helping or informing or inspiring you all of something. And, that’s precisely why I let this blog sit for a couple months. I got stuck on the bit about having something profound to share and meeting a reader’s need.
Who does that? I muttered for weeks. I guess I'm now at the official, legal age of drinking cocktails of reality, humility, and past experiences. And, this I know: what I've learned in life has been force-fed to me, for my own good, often because I’ve sickened myself on too much of my own medicine. That hardly comprises expertise. At this point in life, parenting, and ministry, I wonder how anyone builds a platform, scrambles up top, and poses as an expert.
And, I’ve stumbled over the question of why share what I write? Because most days I don’t have the need to share with anyone. Unless it’s sharing silence at the same multi-roomed mansion, in which I would take this floor, and you take that one. Or vice versa. I could be flexible.
This has been my crisis. These have been the doubts. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you, too, feel like the one who doesn't belong in a room full of talkative experts and talent, teetering on high platforms.
But while I was coaching myself to put away the notebooks and take down this blog, my why showed up - rather, I recognized it for what it is:
I write and will keep writing because every single day without fail, I work out a story or a post in my head, as I drive, as I cook, as I run, as I live. Simply, I can’t not write because if I could quit it, I would. It’s a bothersome voice of narration that runs through my days and keeps me alert for meaning, words, illustrations, phrases to weave into paragraphs and then blend into articles. I want to turn it off most days because writing is work. Writing requires me to elbow-out room in my schedule and to sit in precious silence and chase words. They must be the right words, colored with meaning, the right depth.
Like a cook mumbling over spices or a painter blending and shading, I labor over words and pray for ones that come out living.
As much as I'd like to, it's a labor I can't avoid - just as a pregnant woman can't reschedule her contractions for a more suitable evening or ask a friend to take over for few hours.
Or, it's like that rice I threw into the cooking pot the other night - which eventually overtook the entire stew, making it one large glob of mushy carbohydrates. Writing overtakes everything, touches every part of my life, expands and fills, can’t be compartmentalized, and can’t be sorted out anymore.
I suppose that’s why I write. That is all.
Reader, what is that thing you can't not do? What's that thing you do that really isn't a thing to do at all? It's you, your way. It fills you and overtakes everything and comes from a Source beyond your understanding. It may not make sense. It may not seem worth the effort much of the time.
But if - when you lay it down like a kite on a windy day - if it raises back up and waves for you to come back and keep holding on, then do just that. Stay with it. Hold on. Ride the wind and let it move you as it will, as He wills.
So, why? Why are you doing this again? And why am I writing?
Because, it's what we do without doing. It's who we are. It's how we've been crafted by Divine hands, fitted to catch these certain wind currents in this place and time. We can't lay motionless on that grassy hill, not with His purpose blowing around us as it is. And so, here we are, in our little expanse of the sky, dipping and soaring according to a bigger plan. Our design won't allow anything else.
I suppose that's why. That is enough.