There’s a certain enticement toward image-crafting when the art is online. Here are the words, and I love to craft them – bend them, stretch them, move them around, re-shape, delete. Ann Voskamp writes that some women can peaches, but she cans words. Over here, the medium is more akin to scrapbooking – a single blog post is like a scrapbook page to me, cut it, decorate it, word it just so. Each post, a full-army regalia, from foot soldiers to calvary charge.
There is a proper order to sentences only striven for in everyday life. I want my days to weave together as beautifully as a well-written sentence, but days, they are full of blunders and mumbles and missing parts. So the fingers come to the computer and highlight what they love most – order, peace, grace, beauty. And the sentences are crafted, and then crafted again when the editor’s hat is donned.
And oh, the editing. Words to knead and manipulate and pull and prod and cut and kill and massage and love? Yes. Please. This is no tedious cleaning of the kitchen, fruitless folding of children’s clothes. The love affair is words. To copy and cut and paste a sentence here and a paragraph there – behold: a puzzle, a science, an art. A bit of order, a small creation. Something I can call finished, and good. A fragmented image of God.
But here, Love, listen. Let’s say the writer boxes herself in. She bends to the mold and squeezes to the mold and shoves herself in tight to the mold, but never fits, quite. Not really. It is an online persona, by intention or by accident, and humanity – or, Spirit? – keeps her from squeezing too tight. What if her own rules were only ever intended to make her…
Hide? That’s the word. Hide.
For what kind of safety will you – will I – fight?
The days are full of blunders, and so are the words; the people full of humanity, and so are…the words.
“I don’t like you,” my four year old says to me. “You are never the nicest person. Only Papa is the nicest person. You will never be the nicest person again.”
“Mommy, you are the best mama and I love you so much. You are the nicest mommy and I want to be with you and you can hold me. And oh, I love you.” Another day, a different moment, the same son.
Words: effective, powerful words.
Shake off that safety net. This is a season for less crafting and more writing, less masking and more being, less shaping of sentences, but more use of truth. This is a season for discerning the boundary between discretion and plain old hiding. Withhold out of love and probity, you Writer, but never withhold out of shame and fear. Take time to think about this: to love well, you must make your peace with being seen. To write well, you must become comfortable with your imperfections.