I don’t remember who first said it, but I’ve heard this phrase often at the Write to Publish conference, and among other writers. Whenever I sit down to write about our lives, this thought goes through my mind and frames what I say. If I express only part of a truth—my faith in God for example—without the bloody battle to hang onto that faith that also is part of the journey in this war-torn world, then I risk propagating a lie.
And that means…sometimes the pen must wait. Here’s a journal entry from one of those times:
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September 17, 2007
Dave has often said that he'd give up the use of his legs to be able to have his mind back. I don't want that for him! But I do wish and pray that somehow he could have a vibrant faith whether God chooses to heal him or not—either would be a miracle. When you can't concentrate, can't read or listen to tapes long, can't think straight half the time, when your mind always plays tricks on you and makes you remember things wrong, and when sensitivities to motion, light, sound, and chemicals drive you away from people all the time—it’s hard to have a vibrant faith. I just think, what kind of life is this, and why does God want it for Dave, and what possible good can He be bringing out of it?
We have a beautiful park in our town and this past year they did a major overhaul on the parking areas and roads, and put in a memorial garden... I can't get used to it. I drove through the winding roads tonight after study and came again to the sign that says the exit is the opposite direction from where we used to go, even though the exit is exactly where it was before. I always think, how can this sign be correct? How can I turn right here, and finally end up left? How can this road possibly take me out of the park? I drove that long, dark, counter-intuitive, winding road tonight and thought, this is our life. Long, dark, going the wrong way and yet God says it will be the right way...and I don't understand it.
I believed the first 3 years in a promised land in this life. I lived it. And now...my theology is far from my reality. My faith hesitates in the gap and says, is there really anything at all for us in this world? I'm asleep, holding on to truths I know but not experiencing them now, waiting for the next life instead of expecting anything more out of this life. It's why I've not been able to finish my book. If the truth was burning in my breast, my pen couldn't rest.
But I can't continue until it's real. And I know there's something real out there. And the people who hurt like Dave need it. I need it. I'm so tired of the battle that I've laid down my sword and my shield, and I just exist. Sometimes I'm stirred, yes—I can't be where I've been and not have embers. But it's not the same. It's not where I was. It's not where I want to be.
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I don’t regret waiting until I could write the true truth, waiting until God again woke me up from my fog and said, “It’s not imagination. I’m real. And I want you to know me more deeply, more intimately.” The Christian life in the midst of pain is not a fantasy. He wants us, he cares for us. He desires to be known. Seek him. Meet him. And write—even if only for you.