Friday, June 10, 2011

The encouragement card that led to a week of pondering

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Ps. 37:23-24

I have an amazing friend and accountability partner in Xochi. We met at a writer’s conference a couple years ago and hardly a week has gone by since without us talking in some form or another. This week I came home and found a card from her with the above verse in my mailbox. Her note was simple, just letting me know she was thinking of me and praying for me and for everything going on in my life at the moment. Handwritten notes are so rare these days I treasure each of them and tuck them away. The verse, however, has stuck with me all week, particularly the line “[God] delights in every detail of their lives.” When I read it, I instantly thought of the many people who inhabit my little world.

Each of them, including the not so likeable ones, holds a special place in my heart. I know everything about them. I know their pet peeves. I know what would break their hearts. I know which flower is Chantay’s favorite. I know where Philly likes to go when he wants to disappear for while. Most importantly, I know their dreams and aspirations. One thing I’ve discovered as a writer is that even though I can see the outcome of each choice my characters will make, and I even though I can try to steer them towards the correct path, I cannot control them. Every time I’ve tried, they’ve rebelled. My writing stalls, and until I back off a bit and let them follow their own course, we get nowhere. And these are just fictional characters, copies of the real thing. How much more stubborn are we?

I’ve pondered throughout the week at the similarities between how God interacts with us and how we interact with the individuals in our books. It’s a shadow of a comparison, to be sure, but knowing how often I say, “Don’t go there! Look this way!” only to be ignored I wonder if God ever smacks his forehead and sighs Will she ever learn?

Fortunately for me, the author of my life is infinitely more patient than I could ever be with any of my creations. He never gets flustered. Never scratches out scenes to rewrite over and over. And He never walks away from His work in progress. He stands right next to me as I try to make sense of my life, and of the stories I’ve been given to write. And when I mess up, He brushes me off and tells me to keep trying.

Xochi may not have realized it at the time she wrote her note, but it came on a day I particularly needed a word of encouragement. It said exactly what I needed to hear, even though I didn’t quite realize it at the time. So, now if you’ll excuse me, I have a couple of encouragement cards of my own to write and send out this morning....


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