I have a slightly embarrassing story to share with you. However, it’s one I’m also proud of. When my daughter Elena was about a year old, we were traveling home one evening and stopped at a huge truck stop. She’d gotten grumpy and tired of the car and, I’ll admit, I stink at tuning out grumpy. If she’s crying, I’m compelled to fix it.
So we stop. ((sniff sniff)) ((whimper))
She’s glad to be out of the car and in a warm building, but she’s still unhappy. Being the idiot I am, I like to make her laugh by doing anything goofy. So we start dancing to the country music playing in the store. But dancing’s not goofy though, right?
Except when I’m doing it. Oh yeah.
I did something between salsa, waltz and tango, and soon I had her giggling. The way my uncoordinated limbs move, you can’t help but laugh. I added my plaid Scottish hat for affect and kept going, wiggling my hips and high kicking. So we flail ungracefully around, spin and dip, flying around the aisle besides the dried fruit. The faster we went, the more she giggled until her sweet laughter bounced around the room. And as the song ends, I sweep her into an exaggerated backward dip with a kiss on her little nose.
Which is followed by applause. I almost dropped my poor baby! I spun around to face an entire crowd of onlookers at the end of the aisle, with one guy recording the thing on his phone.
Then he mentioned something about YouTube. Sweet. I’m famous now.
Elena’s excited by the audience, and my shy self is…. less so. My internal monologue started as soon as I got in the car and hit the ignition.
What the heck was I thinking? I’m so oblivious. I’m always oblivious. Wouldn’t hurt to just take a peek around before you act like that, would it?? Ugh, why did I do that? SERIOUSLY. And now it’s on YOUTUBE!
But if I had looked around, would I truly have avoided something bad? Sure, I would have sidestepped embarrassment, but I’d also have avoided something very GOOD. My sparkly-eyed daughter still giggled in the back seat. THAT wouldn’t have happened if I’d danced like I had a whole truck stop watching me.
And in reality, it was about my daughter in the first place. No one else. I wasn’t dancing for those other people, and if I had been, I definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun…. nor would Elena. And it wouldn’t have been worthy of any kind of audience.
Now to translate that to my writing. How many of you do your best work–any work–with invisible critiquers hanging over your shoulder? I sure don’t. My best writing was a book I wrote with God for fun, to untangle things in my own heart. I had no intention of publishing it, so I didn’t care how others would receive it. There was such beauty in creating something between me and God, with no other critics around, real or imagined, to shape my project. It only mattered what God thought. Period.
And apparently He liked it well enough, because it’s the first book that’s gotten traction in the professional world, too. Imagine that.
But that’s not what’s important. There’s absolutely nothing that compares to spending creative time with God. The truths that pump out onto the page, the “ah ha” moments…. oh, it’s glorious.
The amazing thing about working at your calling is that it’s not about anyone else, even if that calling includes serving other people. It’s always between you and God, even if the project flops out in the real world. Dancing around that truck stop was not about anyone but my daughter. Its sole purpose was to get her giggling and be present with her. So we had an audience…. oh well. Happens sometimes. (In fact, dancing with such abandon is probably what drew the audience!) And when I sit down to write, it’s about being and working with God. Maybe it’ll sell a ton of copies, or maybe it’ll just be He and I hanging out together in creative land for a while, but that’s ok. Because it was always only about God and being present with Him. It’s “our” time. Maybe someday I’ll have an audience, and I sure hope my words are more graceful than my dancing limbs, but either way, writing is a precious experience to me.
It always amazes me the huge difference between my self-conscious writing attempts and the God-driven creations. There’s no comparison. And after learning this, I will never ever write another book without God pouring through my thoughts and words. Because you know what? He’s got far better things to say than I do.