Sometimes, I forget that this is what I do. Writing, that is.
A few weeks ago, I took a few sample chapters of my work-in-progress book Prayse to my neighbor, who I'm pretty sure does not even own a computer. I tried to sneak them in an envelope on the table on her porch, but she heard me prowling around and stood in mock-motherhood at her now-open door. "Just where do you think you're going?" she asked, one hand on her hip. I smiled my sheepish smile and stayed for a few minutes to chat.
She always catches me.
A week or two later when I ran into her again (our chance meetings are getting fewer as the weather turns colder, for obvious reason, though we are finding ways to seek each other out), she was gushing over my content. "This is just fantastic!" she said and continued to go on about how great the few chapters I'd passed on were.
In my best, most humble, completely off-the-cuff, traditional answer, I look her square in the eyes and said, "I know! Isn't it great?!" (That is a direct quote.)
It didn't hit me until about fifteen or twenty minutes later, and it still makes me laugh. Because friends, I am not nearly as arrogant about what I do as I sometimes sound. Really.
When she made those comments about Prayse, it never once crossed my mind that we were talking about me. When she referenced the chapters, I was thinking about the story. I was thinking about the way this or that little detail had captured my heart and stuck with me. I was thinking about the impact of these little treasures that are just laying right there in Scripture to be plucked and proclaimed and even prayed and just shared. I was thinking about those same chapters in terms of the very good story that they are, the story that completely took over me and overwhelmed me and drove me further into my gift, the stories that I labored to do justice to because I agonize over any small chance that my words might get in the way of God's Word. We were talking about that story and for those few minutes, as so often happens, I completely forgot that I wrote it.
Which is kind of a more common problem than you might think. I'll just be standing around talking to someone and say, "You know, I read somewhere that..." and then after they leave and the moment is over and the time is gone, I suddenly realize that 'somewhere' was actually....my blog. Or my book. Or my book-in-progress. Or some other piece of writing I was tinkering around with. It's not that I quote myself often, but when I do, I surprisingly frequently forget that it was me.
It's awkward most of the time. Sometimes, I'll speak in front of my church and someone will come up and start talking to me about what I said. Then, I start talking about what I said as if I didn't say it. I think that comes off kind of arrogant, but I don't mean it to be. It's just that I want to talk about the story, too. And even if we're talking about a story that I had the opportunity to tell, I want to make sure we're talking about the story.
Lest you get a big head about me. Or I get a big head about myself.
I love story. And I love that there is a story so much bigger than my story. And I'm completely in awe that as a girl who has spent so many years trying to figure out what to do with her own story, God has recruited me to tell this bigger tale. And I am completely humbled and honored that this is my gift. Really, it's an awesome gift. The perfect balance of invitation, burden, and grace...and maybe a bunch of other little things, but those are the three. For me.
I love story. And to be honest with you, given the chance to engage in the story, I very often forget that this is what I do. The writing, that is. Which is great because it's tempting as a writer to think you're always telling the story. To always be laboring over how to get it right. What amazing grace to be able to take that story into my own heart, too, and remember that it's so much beyond my words.
So about that greater story...I know! Isn't it great?
(Drafted chapters of Prayse are available for preview on the Prayse Project blog. I'm not perfectly happy with all of them, but they are what they are until I get through to the editing stage. Feel free to take a look and leave feedback.)