The Dangerous Sport of Writing

I love safety.  I have no secret dreams of  jumping from airplanes or extreme skiing.  I’m the one who’s fine with waiting beside the fireplace  in the lodge with coffee and a journal.  My love for safety probably fuels my love for writing because, at the start, I found solace in being able to “bleed out” all my deepest-held beliefs on paper and tuck them away safely where no one could question me or make a judgment about it.  Sure, I was a pansy, I’ll own that.  Little did I know what I was in for.

Eventually I began to take my death-grip off these ideals I was writing about and I shared them with a very few trusted souls.  I can remember literally trembling while watching another human being read something I had written – something that I cared about so much that if a person didn’t like it, they didn’t like me.   If the feedback was good, I could possibly trust another set of eyes to it.   Then more.   I grew more and more comfortable over time but it still took me years to call myself “a writer”.  I waited until everyone else started calling me one before I was able to fully own that title.

Now, years later, I’ve become fairly adept at spilling my guts on paper without really thinking twice about it.  But the years-long process of becoming a writer who actually has readers has brought a new reality… that those words better hold up!   Documenting my beliefs and ideals (for better or worse) brings a certain responsibility to be a wise steward of the truth. I couldn’t live with myself if I led someone wrong.   That fact is slightly frightening.  Even more terrifying is the added treat of having to back up my words with my “real life”.  Maybe that doesn’t sound scary to a  “normal” person of integrity but here’s the real reason it’s scary.  (Shhh… this is secret is well guarded from hopeful writers, and they don’t tell you this in school!)   The minute a writer puts something  “out there”  we can be absolutely sure it will be tested by fire on every point!

So here’s the deal.  When writers write about our faith, it’s kind of like we’re enlisting in warfare through some sort of slick recruitment scheme where we think we’re signing up for a cool cash drawing but the line we sign is REALLY an entry form to become a front lines soldier of the truth.

Writing was supposed to be SAFE!  What the heck?!   But when I’m being very honest, I have to admit that I’m not really too shocked to finally recognize this.  Because truly following a living, breathing God means holding no cards under the table… not having a “Plan B” we pull out when life turns up the heat.  It means risk.  But not crazy, irresponsible risk.  Risk that puts all my hope into one basket.  His basket.   Is it reliable?  Yes.  Does it require me putting myself out there at the risk of being a fool.  OH YEAH.  Do I always get it right?  Maybe not.  But I’ll take it.  Somehow the fear is over-taken with something bigger… a mission that isn’t about me anymore.

Sure, I have plenty of days when it’s tempting to stop putting my most treasured beliefs out on the line.  I’ve nearly frozen up more than once because I don’t want to write anything down that I can’t trust with my full weight at any moment.  Heaven only knows what I’ll have to endure if I say it!  But hear this, if you hear nothing else:  Inspiration is not truly inspiration if those words can’t hold up under the test of real life.  Sure, I can write about having “vision” (and I did just last week) but if I can’t go back and read those words back to myself when I am faced with a set of circumstances through which I can’t see (which I did just this week), then what’s the point?

If you write (or you’re thinking about it), proceed with caution.  You will be forced to stand behind your words.  And trust me, you’ll want them to hold up under the ultimate test they will inevitably get.  If they hold up, you will enjoy credibility.  If they don’t, you will hopefully write with a different, wiser filter in the future; or perhaps you’ll want to invest in a helmet.

4 thoughts on “The Dangerous Sport of Writing

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  1. Emily- in my opinion, God’s truth in writing or speech, cuts going and coming, so we should be able to use it when we go through our own trials. I always say if you can back it up with the word of God it will stand the test of time and culture. Now it may not be popular among the masses, but neither was Jesus when he called out the pharisees on their holy-less-ness. lol I know it is not a word but I like it….
    Jesus said they were whited sepulchres full of dead men’s bones, or in our words all flash but no substance. I guess as Christians perhaps what we write should never be a question about our Christ-like values being right or wrong (let God do the judging) but how we use wisdom to get it on paper, to make others think, “I want what they have (Jesus) in my life.”

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  2. I certainly understand what you are saying. I would say though that we speak the truth, and maybe our lives don’t always display that truth, it does not change the truth or mean that we should not proclaim it. As the word says, let God be true and every man a liar. God’s truth is not subject to our expereinces.

    I feel like that God spoke to my heart once that the reason I write the songs I do is not because I have successfully lived the words, but because I am the one who needs to hear them the most. Those word are in my heart because God is speaking them to me, and I get to hear those words over and over as I repeat the songs in my head.

    Maybe it’s the same for you. I would encourage you not to be too stressed over whether your life is living up to your words. God gave you those words to teach you. He will work to fulfill them in you.

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    1. Thanks, Keith… good thoughts. You’re definitely right, that truth is worth writing, regardless of how I measure up to it. I just want to make it clear that I’m a work in progress (as opposed to a “piece of work”). 🙂

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