We have quite a few themes in November: Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo, Peanut Butter Lovers Month – where do I start?
It IS National Novel Writing Month (though I think Peanut Butter Lovers Month is severely under-celebrated), and we of the word-crafting ilk sometimes use this month to challenge ourselves to a goal of higher output. Crank out more than 1,000 words a day and get that novel DONE!
The problem I experienced pursuing this goal was the cold, hard truth of never EVER achieving 1,000 words per day. On any given day I’d have work, chores, errands, social events, and that ever-obnoxious need to feed oneself (with peanut butter) intervening with my expectations as a writer. And even if I made it to something like 800 words – so? That’s still 200 short!
The anxiety to achieve left me joyless. I even began to believe my output was directly correlated to how pleased God was with me for using my gift. I didn’t believe there was grace for anytime I failed.
But God seems relentless in displaying His grace anyway.
On a recent Sunday morning I was getting ready for church when I realized my boyfriend would be arriving soon to head out with me to service. They tell you relationships take work, so I was always prepared to put in the hours. Thing is, I already had in mind – from stereotypes and observations of other relationships – what sort of work I’d have to do.
It would never cross my mind that the simple moment when my love showed up at my door I’d be thinking, “I’m not ready to socialize yet.” And that would be my work.
I’ve lived on my own for a decade, no roommates aside from a rather mild pet snake who takes up the space of a terrarium in my “guest room” (a.k.a. “room I’d hoped to make a writer’s haven but is really just a space for stuff I don’t use” #morewriterfailure). I go out, I enjoy time spent with friends and family, but otherwise…I’ve spent most of my days alone and am already deeply introverted.
I mentally stumbled through that morning. My emotions went all over, though I kept them tightly contained. How am I supposed to do this? I thought. And how could I ever explain this type of distress without sounding like an incapable weirdo?
We went to church, and I still wrestled with wildly competing feelings, still trying my best to fight through to a sense of normalcy – my man standing next to me probably having little idea of what was going on inside. We worshiped, we sat, and the pastor began to speak.
Within the first fifteen minutes he referenced the verse, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) It wasn’t by any merit of our own we were allowed this grace and resurrection, and I realized – it’s not by any solo effort I’ll “perfect” my approach to relationship (or writing), either. It was God’s revelation to me to say, “I can’t do this,” and lean into Him for what He would provide.
And He does provide – even a little time each day to write at least 100 words on a project. (That’s 36,500 a year, you know. Nothing to sneeze at.) I still sometimes catch myself “telling” more than praying to God that I’ll do better so I can – what? Impress Him? Prove He doesn’t have to worry? It results in rather one-sided conversations.
On another Sunday – evening, this time – my love and I watched Coco together and asked each other what legacy we’d want our family to remember us for. I still went to achievements: “I want to be remembered for the stories I told.” He said to me, “I want to be remembered as a man who genuinely loved his wife.”
It’s seriously on no merit that I deserve this man, but…maybe that’s been God’s point all along. (All y’all saps can start melting now.)