When I lived in Scottsdale I wrote a poem that summed up my childhood experience of what it felt like to be me. It wasn’t a judgment it was a description of what I saw as I stood from a neutral place and looked back over twenty years. I was in a creative writing class at Scottsdale Community College and the instructor gave us a postcard and said write what you see. To this day it is one of my favorite images, it opened up a box inside me where I knew I was ready to express something important to me in an open and honest way. It was a good feeling to look at the past from a place of forgiveness and peace.
I got an A on that poem from a teacher with two PhDs from Columbia who was stingy with high grades. She asked me to read it to the class and then explain how I could approach the subject the way I did. I said, “I couldn’t have written this if I hadn’t already forgiven all of what happened. I have peace with it. If I were angry I wouldn’t be able to write honestly.”
Recently, I was reminded of my own words as I struggle to write something, and I haven’t yet completed the rounds of forgiveness.
One of my goals is to write a memoir about our adoption experience in Uganda that lead us to the work of orphan care. I would like to give an inside view of what it’s like to be a stay at home mom from Texas who follows God into the ministry of helping orphaned children in an African country. The course we have followed to do this simple objective has been unbelievable. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to write a novel on the subject.
Here’s my obstacle: I am not at the place of complete forgiveness and peace with the whole picture so there’s an underlying tone of resentment in what I write. When I read it, I have to toss it and try again. I want it to be interesting and funny. When I am angry I am not funny. I am mean. Writing it with my own “voice” is important to me. I want to get this right.
So what does a writer do in a situation like this? For me, I went back to God’s word. What does he say about these problems? In James 3:17-18 I have found the answer: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
I’m not exactly full of mercy towards those in Uganda who were obstacles in our work. It follows that I’m not impartial either. I am certainly taking a side in the story. Pure… I need to check my motives and be sure I’m not aiming arrows. I don’t think I am, but still, it is good to examine and be absolutely certain. My goal for telling the story is to raise a harvest of righteousness. It is a story of perseverance, obedience, and passion for a cause. It’s the amazing love of God that flows through someone plain and simple to reach suffering children on the other side of the world with a tenacious grip. And lives are being changed to the glory of God. This is a story about the greatness of God, not me.
So, though I’d like to open a new file and begin writing immediately, I think I need some prayer walks with God and submit this work to him and approach it with the wisdom that comes from heaven so we can raise a harvest of righteousness. I know God will give me a push and let me know “now you are ready to write.” Until I get the permission slip from Him, I am devoted to prayer.
I was going to finish on that thought, but I had another one. What if we didn’t open our big mouths to even talk about something until we have gone through this process of forgiveness seeking the wisdom of heaven? It’s just a thought. I have a feeling that’s God’s goal for me. I’m still learning.