A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of getting two blog posts I wrote accepted by my favorite tea company, Adagio Teas. It was one of the first times I specifically remember being paid to write, even after over a decade of writing, and needless to say, I was pretty pumped.
But as I sit here in my beautiful home on this beautiful Easter Sunday, reflecting back on the last few weeks, I’m realizing something. Or rather, confirming something I’ve probably known and ignored for quite some time.
The other day, I had a half-day for Good Friday. After finishing work and watching a movie, I went on a long walk with Jesus on one of the first perfect days we’ve had this year. And as I took a break on a park bench halfway through, as I sat by our big glass door looking out on a gorgeous day with Thor and a bowlful of strawberries afterwards, I realized: I got more pleasure out of that walk with Jesus, out of having a free afternoon to enjoy with Him, than I did with all of the social media likes and pride and congratulations that came from becoming a paid writer, or for those who don’t follow this blog regularly, from fulfilling a life-long dream.
And that’s not to say I’m not grateful for the likes, the congratulations, and the support from family and friends. I am, and for the opportunity to write blog posts (or short stories or novels) that might help, entertain, or teach people.
But writing is not my root of joy. Writing is not the thing that gives me or my life meaning, and writing, as wonderful as it is, is not the most important thing.
Now this might sound simple or obvious to some, and of course if you asked me, I would say the same thing. We’ve all heard of The Christmas Carol, heard the tropes of businessmen who waste their lives making money for a family they never see, but that doesn’t change the fact that with this recent tea blog accomplishment it’s finally been hitting home for me in a more substantive and meaningful way.
One of the most profound changes I’ve had as a writer over the years has been recognizing that my writing is not the end of my goals, but rather the means. For the longest time, I thought that the best thing I had to give this world was my stories. If I could just get published, the lessons and messages inside my work could change the world, I’d think. If only I could get there.
Now that’s a recipe for severe stress and angst if ever there’s been one, of course, to say nothing of the fact its entirely untrue. But, as with all the untruths anyone ever struggles with, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t something I had to work and fight through.
Because the fact is, what I have to give the world isn’t just stories or blogs or short stories, but me, myself, completely as I am.
Nearly all of the significant things I’ve done in my life, and certainly the ones I have cared about the most and am most proud of, have had little–if not nothing–to do with writing. In fact, most of them haven’t even been big things at all. One of the biggest blessings and mercies of having gone unpublished for so long has been that I can now see that truth.
But even that isn’t the point.
Because the real point is that finding value in any form of doing is poison.
At the Good Friday service at church this week, we took communion. For those who aren’t familiar or might come from a different liturgical background, one of the things we’re supposed to do before taking the bread and cup (eating and drinking bread and “wine” that represent Christ’s body broken for us and our partaking of that sacrifice) is check ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28-29). I’m sure there’s a lot of deep theological work that’s been done on those verses beyond what I understand, but basically for me, I think of it as a sort of spiritual check-in, a reminder of the commitment I’ve made in my life to serve and follow God, to be in relationship with Him, and also an opportunity for me to ask and consider whether there are any areas in my life where I’m not doing so hot and need to repent.
But while I was reflecting this time, the only thing that came to mind, the thing I think the Holy Spirit most wanted to tell me, was this: I want you to accept my love.
I was, in a way, mortified.
But I’m prideful! I’m ungrateful! I’m unforgiving!
Accept my love.
I need ways to get better. I have to have ways to improve!
Accept my love.
I think the thing that scares me most in this world is God’s love.
To be so indebted, to be so undeserving, to have no way to pay it back or cover my debts. There’s nothing that scares me more.
And as a Christian that is, of course, hard to say. But it’s also true.
To admit that someone could, that someone does love me that much. That they love hearing about my interests, my days, my struggles to a degree so far beyond human limitations. That I could never tire them out or have them get tired of me.
Love that deep, that real, that faithful, frightens me. I’m good at performing. It’s safe. When that gets taken off the table, the walls go up. I don’t want God to leave.
But, when I let those same walls down, as I’ve learned (and am still learning) to open up and let Him in, it has also been the most rewarding, satisfying, life- and peace-giving experience imaginable. And He’s always there. He’ll NEVER leave. Do I always feel it, and do I always experience it the same way? No. But I can and do believe He’s there, and when I stop and listen, when I let myself relax enough to open up those cracks, His love comes rushing in.
God loves me more than I could ever comprehend. He knows everything about me and still loves, and He sent His Son to die just so I could be with Him and rise with Him at the end of the age.
I want to be a published author someday. Of course I do. But when I reach the end of my life, when I live it now, writing will not be the thing.
As I wrote this post, two songs came to mind. The first is “Love Like This” by Lauren Daigle from her album Look Up Child, which I think captures pretty well my feelings about God’s amazing love. The second is “Sabotage / Home” by King’s Kaleidoscope from their album Beyond Control, which I think fits the larger theme of this post, that our accomplishments can’t fulfill us the way we think we will and that God is really the only thing we want, even as we chase after and manhandle and offer up these other things–trying to prove to God we’re worth holding and loving when He’s already doing just that. You can listen to both below.
So, how about you? Have you had any experience with chasing the wrong thing? Chasing the right thing? Do you have any songs, stories, or quotes that you think about when you consider this? Let me know in the comments below and if you want more content like this, please follow me her or on social media using the links below or in the sidebar. Thank you for reading!