There is something wonderfully intimate about written words. When you look carefully at something handwritten, you can sense feeling in the curve of each stroke. Even in type print, you can feel a writer’s emotions in the words they have laid on the page.
When I read my Granddad’s old sermons I loved watching his thoughts unfold on the paper. Throughout his 40-year ministry he crafted each message, by hand of course, scratching out and rewriting as I believe the Holy Spirit must have led him. To read his work from beginning to end was a gaze into the windows of his heart and the evolution of his faith. Reading his work in his own handwriting made it all the more personal and special.
So for me, as much as I love podcasts and audiobooks, there is no substitute for written word.
Since I can remember I have always turned to pen and paper in times when my heart spills over. Where my own distracted mind and unreliable memory often fail, writing never does.
Things that confound my understanding look a little simpler in my own script.
What tears my heart in two seems easier to mend when I see it in ink.
So I trust the page. Because nothing makes sense in my head or heart until I get it there.
Once it’s on paper, it’s no longer imagined, exaggerated, minimized, or distorted. It’s real. Just as it is, just as I see it, no more, and no less. And once it’s real I can deal with it. I can give it a name and assign it a feeling. Even when I don’t understand it, I can watch it take shape in words, and I can hand those words to God. They don’t have to be pretty (usually they aren’t) or even appropriate (happens more than you think).
Those words become my prayers. The song that I sing back to the One who made us. Those prayers – that song – is full of wrong notes, broken chords, awkward pauses, and shaky entrances. It’s riddled with uncertainty but fueled by an unwavering belief that it matters.
Because there’s something in me whispering to be set free. A voice in my soul that travels through my heartstrings and out through my fingertips. A voice that is mine and mine only, unblemished by anyone else’s expectations or needs or beliefs or ambitions.
The older I get, the more persistent that voice becomes. Events and experiences in my adulthood continue to challenge everything I thought I knew about my life, my faith, my convictions, my relationships, and my calling.
That’s a lot of noise rumbling in my head and heart.
And when that noise rises to deafening levels, it’s easy to overwhelm and shut down. It’s tempting to muffle it, distract from it, dismiss it altogether. But then I miss the magic. I miss the opportunity to learn from it, grow through it, mold it into something beautiful I can offer back into the world.
What is wisdom gained from our experiences if not a gift we pay forward?
Left inside myself, everything I know and think and feel is hoarded… muzzled… censored… wasted.
To have been blessed with the love and faith I’ve been given, and clutch it close to myself, would be my failure as a witness to the power of God’s love and grace in my life.
To own these stories of hope and choose not to share them would be valuing my own comfort over someone else’s despair.
If there’s even the tiniest chance this little lighthouse can shine a way for someone else, then I will keep the candle burning.
That candle is the light I wish I had seen in the dark. Comfort I needed when we lost our son. A shake of the shoulders I needed when I almost lost my marriage. Compassion I needed as I wrestled with changing beliefs. Permission I needed to be exactly myself when I couldn’t recognize the face in the mirror. Patience I needed when I learned the hard way. And the truth that I needed when my questions brought me to my knees.
But yet I am learning, over and over and over again, that for some questions I may never in this lifetime receive a satisfying answer. There’s a piece of me in heaven and the rest of me down here and I don’t know if that’s something I will ever reconcile in my human mind.
Thus forward in faith I go.
So why do I write?
I write because my heart says to write and I can’t ignore her any longer. No matter who reads it, or if anyone ever does. The measure of its impact is not for me to decide, nor does its “success” or “failure” determine my worth. I don’t even have to understand its ultimate purpose or see a clear path in front of me.
My only responsibility is simply to offer it up.
The rest is up to Him.
PS: This is why I write. So why do you do what you do? Do you believe it matters? Because it does, more than you could imagine. Try putting your “why” on paper. You might surprise yourself. If you’d like a little extra help and inspiration, try this: Who am I (and who do I want to become)?
YOU are also why I write. For there is something in you too that is whispering to be set free.
Carry on, dear one. You’re right where you are supposed to be.
Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have 4 children, LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and brand new baby Elisha.