“In terms of writing practice, what kind of gerbil are you?”
This question has been prominent in my thoughts since the day I read it nearly two weeks ago. It didn’t take me long to respond to that question by purchasing the book it came from – The Write Brain Workbook. For me, that choice was a step forward because writing for me has always been a “running around and around on the wheel” kind of thing. I see the stories taking shape and I enjoy them. So I begin writing them down, and when they don’t measure up I take a break. I stop. That’s my wheel, and unfortunately it extends beyond just writing. It’s like a house of horror stuck on repeat, driven by fear, and with no end in sight.
But I want off.
It scares me to know that this wheel has become comfortable enough that it feels safer here than out there in the unknown. As much as I hate it, it feels safe. I don’t think I ever realized how important that sense of safety is, but it’s been a recurring part of the answer God has been showing me since yesterday. The promise of a path forward.
The first part of that answer is best expressed in a quote shared by my friend Coenraad this morning. It comes from Warsan Shire who says, “No one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear saying – leave, run away from me now. I don’t know what I’ve become, but I know that anywhere is safer than here.” Sometimes we need a voice to express the growing dread we are trying desperately to ignore. A dread we’re aware of, but unwilling to acknowledge. Maybe it takes another voice to help us see that “anywhere is safer than here”.
But fear is fear, and as irrational as it may be to fear. Fear is real nevertheless. How do I face it and win? It is to this question that the second part of the answer addresses. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4:18)
I can’t say I fully understand the concept of perfect love, but I remember a time when I knew a greater boldness than at any other time in recent memory. I had the love of a person who I cared very deeply for and trusted explicitly. I knew that, no matter what happened, I was safe with her. And she loved my stories. And I loved to write them for her. At that time, I was free in a way I don’t recall being true of me at any other time save as a young child. I felt her love, and with it I felt like I could face anything. For that, I will always be thankful. But, as sometimes happens, that relationship ended and once again I’ve been facing life without that sense of safety brought on by tangible, real, wrap yourself up in it on a cold day love.
But as I recall that those words on perfect love are scripture, I realize that they are meant to speak of someone far greater than another person. Someone who’s love is unchanging and unending. Someone who loves me more deeply than I can fathom. I wish I could understand it more clearly, but its hard to to feel it without the warmth of a voice filled with joy and laughter or shared sorrow. It’s hard to feel that love without the physical touch of a caring hand or warm hug. There is a gap that written words cannot fill. One that intellectual knowledge cannot bridge. Knowing and knowing are two separate things, and though I know of His love I want to know His love. It leaves me with the mystery of faith.
As I read the testimony of others, I see that the only way to know His love is to live like it’s true. Somehow, the light of His love will come through. As I see it, chasing dreams is one of the paths to seeking His embrace. Something tells me He’s out there waiting for me to find him in the words that live in my dreams, telling me that its safer out there than in here.
I’ve tried before, and I’m not sure I’ll be any more successful this time, but something tells me that there’s safety to be found in coming to know the unknown. To know Him, it’s worth leaving the wheel.