Write with intent.
That’s what I learned tonight as I read the six pages that I allowed myself from Marion Roach Smith’s book called The Memoir Project. Marion was addressing “writer’s block,” which is exactly what I’ve been experiencing this week. Not because I have nothing to write, but because I have too many things to write. And writing too much is exactly what she advises us not to do.
I want to write about my sweet dachshund, why I go to church, why I’m grateful for the gift of an obedient heart, the Pavlova I made for a shower over the weekend, some disappointment I have around the upcoming Easter holiday, the crush I have on the guy who is renovating the exterior of my house, the dog walking service I signed up for, the progress on the exterior of my house. And this is my short list!
All of these are things I’d love to talk about with my friends. I’d yammer on and they’d kindly indulge me. Then I’d do the same for them and together we’d widdle away at what lays on our hearts and longs to be voiced. That’s what friends do and in this way, I’m a good friend.
More than good listening though, we help guide our friends through tough times. That looks different depending on the friend and the relationship. I recall when a friend said, “I don’t know if I want you for a friend.” We chuckled and I knew what she meant. We’d had a hard discussion about being single and what that looks like and the scariness of a future without a partner.
The conversation evolved into trusting God and flourishing in life. I attend a group at our church called THRIVE. I love the name of the group. It’s exactly what I want for my own life, and I want it for all of us. I remember several years ago (even before Kaiser used it as their marketing campaign!) I issued a decree to myself. Self: “You are not going to just survive; you’re going to thrive.”
Most divorces take a toll on us for which we aren’t prepared. In a zombie-like state, I inched my way up, one foot in front of the other, in an effort to crawl up from the gravity of grief. That wasn’t all bad. I feel it was better than the alternative of staying down there.
We’d all just as soon skip over this zombie-like state. Make a clean exit and leave this zombie behind with the all pain and loss he carries with him. We do all sorts of things in an effort to restore who we once were or to fill the gaping hole where our heart once resided.
All of this is natural to the process. But how long must this process go on? It had been a little over a year when I decided that I’d been in a steady third gear long enough and I needed to kick things into 5th to get ahead. In my effort to thrive, I had to access the best source I knew: my heavenly father.
I learned quickly that in spite of my ambitious determination, thriving was not going to look the way I envisioned it. But it was in the effort to thrive that I began to pass over the familiar (and in some cases, stale) and advance toward new discoveries, which among the most important was that I gained new perspectives. As my perspectives changed, I could see hope in my future. The hope was undefined. I didn’t anticipate that we would return to our forever home. I didn’t even anticipate that we would have a new fabulous home. I couldn’t conceive of financial peace, and I didn’t hope that a man of my dreams would appear.
The hope was intrinsic. Sometimes on a tear-stained pillow, and sometimes with a smile on my face, I thanked God as I laid my head down at night. I was not alone. And in this hope I was empowered to face another day.
In Isaiah 54:5 God says” For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
This God, my maker and my husband became my hope and fueled me when I crashed without warning. When I faced days of confusion at financial decisions, of home maintenance, of parenting alone, and life without a partner, and survival was all I could muster, His promises lifted me above the circumstances and thriving came into view. My perspective was always changing. I saw remnants of the past differently, and I sensed better things on the horizon.
My friend pondered out loud about a future without a partner. She’d been seeing someone and she struggled with the relationship. She wondered if God would be faithful to her if she gave up the relationship. Would God provide to her another man who was better for her? Or would he provide contentment to her, like he had to me? She was bargaining. It was here that I reminded her that this is an American perspective that we have a right to anything from God, let alone a guarantee that she’ll never be lonely again. I went on a little further. She twirled her spoon in her coffee, then looked up at me and said, “Man, I don’t know if I want you for a friend.”
Sometimes we need to hear from someone who cares, that the direction we’re headed isn’t getting us to a better place. Survival mode gets comfortable and we forget that there’s another option: to thrive. That almost always means passing up what’s familiar and comfortable. But if we don’t, it’s going to be hard to get to the place that will give us new perspectives that we can’t see while we’re stalled in survival mode: a perspective that allows us to thrive in the arms of our maker, our husband.
Well, there I go. That was my writing with intent. Marion, I’m working on it. I have a feeling my word count is too high, though.