My avid, author-prone friends say writing is hard.
I didn’t agree… It came and comes naturally on journal pages and word documents that fill up rapidly when there is a story or idea to remember. Writing is easy… until the blank card for my friend’s baby shower stares up at me and the research paper on refugees cannot include personal pronouns and blogging goals become murky and disorganized in a pile of unfinished ambition.
Imperfection is scary. Especially when you get to be imperfect on something like “the cloud,” between cooking blogs, well-educated theologians, and DIY professionals that live on Pinterest. I would much rather appear to have my act together before delving into this world of blog life and writer’s block.
So why bother?
A few months ago I wrote a series about Third Culture Kids. I needed to write it, more for myself than anyone else. Crazy as it may sound, it was a huge part of letting go of the more painful parts of that era. Throwing a personal story out there for the whole world to see is intimidating but strangely freeing. I got to hear from close friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers. And we all had something in common. Suddenly my story wasn’t alone anymore, and there were no excuses to feel sorry for myself.
But then writers block happened, and everything I would start always stopped short. I hadn’t “arrived” yet and writing about playing piano in a park ended in a cliche manner. That’s just it though, isn’t it? It’s easier to write about something after the fact than to admit imperfection in the middle of it.
I tried writing the Third Culture stuff for two years. It laced my journals and conversation, but it was just too personal and unfinished to share. That’s what I thought. Then this past spring it finally clicked and I wrote and wrote and it wasn’t so confusing anymore. A few weeks ago we went up north to bushland, Ontario, for a short, quick visit. Suddenly childhood was front and center again as we sped past familiar businesses and caught up with old friends who played a huge role in my life so many years ago. We drove back in to pick wild blueberries and now I’m (mostly) adult enough to not be scared of bears and actually save the berries that I pick instead of eating all of them.
The truth is that real-life story is still happening, always happening, and after spending so much effort on one topic, I began realizing that being a Third Culture kid isn’t the point. It’s important and it matters and it needs to be addressed, but it’s just not the point, no matter how much I selfishly want it to be.
It’s so good to learn from the past and seek forgiveness and redemption in the painful stories that are known. The problem is that I had gotten stuck in the past and distracted the pain by living for the future. When A, B, and C happen, when I go back to this place again, when that person apologizes for what they said… It’s easier to imagine the future than it is to embrace this day, this moment.
Maybe it’s because I’m a visionary and most days I have to mentally pull myself back into the present and choose to see today, in its ordinary and mundane tasks, as a gift, too. Imperfection shouldn’t be an excuse for laziness or apathy. I guess I want to see my imperfections as a place where grace can abound. My dear grandma has often said, “I want to grow old gracefully.” I’m not “old” by any means, but watching her gives me hope that it is possible to do so.
I want to live gracefully. Not settling for imperfections and mistakes, but not letting it hold me back from living with integrity and honesty a little more each day.
“And if you should forget [Jesus] for minutes or even days, do not groan… but begin anew… every minute can be a fresh beginning.” (Frank Laubach)