If you are reading this blog, then it is no great secret that I enjoy writing. Actually, I love it. I love words; I love how they can be arranged in ways that make us think, make us feel, make us laugh, and maybe even inspire us to live differently. They can also hurt, discourage, shame, cause us to cry – this too, might cause readers to live differently. Words have power to influence. Therefore, those who speak them or write them exert a certain power, the extent of which is determined by the attention of the reader or listener. Which begs the question, what kinds of words are you reading and listening to? How impactful are they, and in what ways are they influencing you?
These are the thoughts I’m thinking as I work on a couple of projects outside this blog. As I am stringing words together either to tell a story or teach a lesson, it is fun – child’s play, like stringing lights on a Christmas tree. It gets a bit tricky as I get closer to the top of the tree, standing on tippy-toes, reaching and stretching to get them placed just right. Then, I stand back to look at my tree in all it’s glory! And, I am immediately reminded of the Charlie Brown Christmas special that I’ve watched every year for the past 45 years. Oh mercy, but it’s a sad, little, droopy thing, my tree. My words.
And then, I remember the spirit of the thing. Like the promise of Christmas, the hush, the newness, the miracle, the arrival of a Savior. And so I move some words around a bit, beginning to adjust and reposition. As I work, I see it needs a bit more adornment on the left side, and perhaps a little less toward the bottom. I’m reminded of a younger me, in a different time and place, that cared very much about entertaining and visitors who would come to see my tree. I wanted it to be just so. No, if I’m honest, I wanted it to be jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, I wanted all who saw it to whisper, “Beautiful!”
As I’ve gotten older, things have changed. I still want things to be beautiful, I still decorate and celebrate every year at Christmas. I do what I can to make it so. But, more than anything else, now I want the Spirit of the Christ Child to be revealed in my display. It is the same with my writing. It is work, much harder than I’d ever anticipated. And like all worthy endeavors, the challenge of it can’t really be explained until you experience it for yourself. I can make things sound pretty, and in the process lose the entire spirit of the thing. What is the use of that?
And so I wrestle as I write. I say my prayers. I read and study and learn. I submit to the arduous process and it’s timing, whatever that may be. I do not know what the finished product will be exactly, but I have the seed of an idea which grows as I nurture it. Just as Christmas brought us the Savior of the world, he arrived quietly, without fanfare, and He grew and revealed all that He was and what He had come to do. I could choose not to struggle over my words, saying that it is just too hard. We could say the same about receiving the new life Christ offers us. “What it will require of me is too hard!”
I can find joy in the wrestling struggle of writing. Of wrangling words out of my brain, attempting to put them in such a way that they bring some measure of encouragement or hope or insight to those who read them. I find joy because of the opportunity, because of what might be. The Savior came to offer us the eternal opportunity of life with Him. It too, is sometimes a wrestling struggle. But – what might He do with a life surrendered to Him? The thought of what might be! What He has done isn’t for just one holiday, or one season, it is for all eternity. May we all remember this, even as we wrestle, we whisper, “Beautiful!”