Why You Shouldn't Give Up Writing Online

There are some days I just want to give up writing altogether.

It's not that my love of words wanes, or the pressure to write goes away. It is simply fear. My struggle to be authentic as I write collides with my fear of hurting someone... or my fear of being hurt.

And the fear is not unfounded.

A very brave friend recently shared that something I had written had hurt her feelings. Honestly, it didn't come as a surprise. Yes, maybe I was surprised that it was this friend and this situation, but I feel like I have been waiting for this since that day in 2004 I started writing online.

I have rejected countless post ideas over the past nine years, and have scores of drafts waiting for courage. I questioned even writing this.

I just don't want to hurt anyone.

And, selfishly, I don't want to be hurt. I hold passionate, and controversial, beliefs. I suppose we all do. I am a tender soul, and really, I think I'd feel most comfortable anonymously scribbling away in a little garden all day.

But that's not my life. And it's not supposed to be. Because my most passionate (and controversial) belief is that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Anyone who truly means that had better get ready to be uncomfortable. And misunderstood.

I am so thankful my friend was open with me. And she unknowingly gave me a gift later in our conversation when she shared how profoundly a post by a well-known Christian blogger had impacted her. I know that this blogger has also been misunderstood, and has also had brokenness in relationship because of her conviction to write.

Yes, writing wounds... and yes, writing heals.

So here is what it comes down to: I am a broken vessel. Jesus... He's the treasure.

I am trying, oh, trying so hard, but I am going to fail. I am going to fail the people I love, I am going to fail Him. I am trying to be brave, but sometimes I get my signals mixed up. If I have hurt you, please tell me. I want to know... I want things to be right between us.

God never gives up! So we don't have to either. Every relationship can be mended in Him. And not just mended... made into something life-giving and beautiful.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

So I'll keep writing. And I'll keep stumbling. But the messing up is worth it if God can make something beautiful come of even that. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

To all my writing friends - be brave. Keep speaking truth. Keep baring your soul. Because you never know which words God will use.

I am not saying write every word you think... none of us should do that. Write with love. But don't write in fear. Don't censor yourself so completely that you are paralyzed. Write!

If you hurt someone unintentionally, make it right. As soon as you possibly can. Find the beauty in restoration.

And to my friend... thank you. Thank you for your courage in speaking truth to me. And thank you for offering me the grace of believing me - that it was never my intention to hurt you. You are a beautiful soul and I am in awe of what God is doing in your life. I am so grateful that this wall has been torn down and we can grow together. I love you!

Epilogue (note? addendum?): I just couldn't publish this without having my friend read it first. She did, and she gave me permission to share it here. I am so thankful for her!

artwork by Amanda Hovey for the Declare Conference


When Life Seems Without Beauty, Love Pushes In

I need beauty.

I feel desperate for it some days.

We live in dust, surrounded by dirt. I hope for something beautiful all day long. I know it is here, but oh these long summer days that stretch into September and October and November... they burn right through you. I crunch across yellow grass and the air puffs with dust around my boots while I try to catch my breath in the waves of heat.

It aches, this need. It is a physical sensation, an inconvenient need I don't want to have, but that I can't deny.

I find myself drinking in the faces of my children. Staring long at the curve of their brows, the depth of a dimple. I watch the muscles move on their arms as they talk.

I scour the ground for one tiny weed flower. Stare at the sky needing the white on blue.

It is hard to find the words to explain this... I don't really fully understand myself... but I grieve still. I also feel guilty for grieving.


It has been two years since the fire. One of my dearest friends just moved into her replacement house. Just moved in.

Grief? She has experienced grief. Over and over and over. So my welling eyes and my stopped up throat seem like so much child's play.

But I can't deny the truth. I hurt deep for what is still gone. For what was ravaged and still lies naked and black.

I told Stephen the other day that I feel like I've had no beauty in my life since the fire. Is that really so? Of course not. Because there is a beauty wilder than those black sticks. There is gorgeousness in all the faces, in the skies and in the stars. In the reaching out hands. In the loving.

I know this.

But something more than just trees was burned to a crisp in that fire. I can't say what, I don't know, but I miss it.

Maybe it was a child-like sense of security. Truth: nothing is secure this side of heaven. But the illusion feels comfortable, doesn't it?

I think about this for my children. How the fire has shaped who they are now, who they will become. For the children whose homes were so much ash? Not a shaping as much as a pounding, a kneading.

Even still, for my children, with their home intact, there was much impact. If your childhood world had burned down... if every time you went to the grocery store you drove through a forest of pointy, falling over matchsticks... if everyone you knew was divided into two groups - burned out or not... wouldn't that affect your way of thinking?

Stephen made a new rule a few weeks ago and posted it on the fridge:

I didn't want to do it. I stopped regularly reading fiction years ago because once I start I don't want to put it down. If I could, all I would do is read. It's too hard to stop. But, I agreed. Abbie wanted me to reread Anne of Green Gables, because she had just finished it.

When I sat on my bed with Anne of Green Gables in my hand, I was doing it for the two of them. It was not where I wanted to be.

My husband is a wise man. From the first page I was lost. I soaked in that book, gulping down the lightness of the words, and the beauty of Anne's world. I sat there for an hour, a dried out raisin plumping up on words penned over a century ago.

A huge cherry tree grew outside, so close that its boughs tapped against the house, and it was so thickset with blossoms that hardly a leaf was to be seen. On both sides of the house was a big orchard, one of apple trees and one of cherry trees, also showered over with blossoms; and their grass was all sprinkled with dandelions. In the garden below were lilac trees purple with flowers, and their dizzily sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning wind. - Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

And when I stood up, I was refreshed.

That man of mine went all analogizing on me the other night. He asked me what an engine needs in order to go. "Fuel," I said, wondering where he was going.

"Ah," he said, "but it also needs oil. A little something nice to make things run smoothly. Or else the engine seizes up. If it it isn't ruined, it is damaged. Forever. You need a little oil. A little something fun."

I think beauty is my oil.

I've tried to make a habit of finding beauty. I know that it is everywhere. But sometimes when the weight becomes heavy and the shoulders bow down, my head is just not lifted enough to look.

The other night I was pecking away at my keyboard, writing this and that, a deadline looming. It was after dinner. Everyone else was outside in the dismal overcast fields and the house was quiet. I was grim and grumpy and struggling... the words weren't coming and even my hands seemed to scowl. I started writing this very post.

The door slammed and I kept typing. Then in my left ear I heard my name. I turned and saw this.

It was a simple offering, love from the heart of a little boy who didn't even know what his mama needed. The grace of that small burst of flowery sun tamed my selfish storm.

I wrapped my grubby little boy up in my arms and nestled my face in his curls and thanked him and the good Lord who made him.

Everywhere, everywhere, there is beauty, and on the days when my eyes see only the dust at my feet, the love of those in my life bends in and puts it in front of my bowed face.

Grace abounds.

And though the base of that cross was charred two years ago, it still stands.

Stephen's gift of time to lose myself in beauty every night inspired another post which I shared on the HelloMornings blog. If, like me, you are burdened with more to do than you have time, and to-do lists that rule like tyrants, take a moment to breathe deep and read Love Gives the Gift of Grace.

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