I’ve had this dream for a long time to write a book. Not “dream” really, it’s been more like a fantasy, like something unattainable and not at all something that a responsible adult would pursue. A responsible adult would get a “real job” when she finished school and start squirreling money away for retirement and buy a house and get married and have 2.4 kids. A responsible adult would not seriously consider writing a book. So, I didn’t. Not until recently. Not until it became so clear that being “irresponsible” is exactly what God wants from me.
Two years ago I lent my copy of Girl Meets God to my best friend, and when she had finished, she left a message on my Facebook wall that said, “Would you please write a book? Take a hint from Lauren Winner and write a book about your life and what God’s teaching you! ” So, I started thinking about writing a book in a really far-off kind of way, in the if-I-were-someone-else-who’s-not-responsible kind of a way. Over the last couple of months, the thoughts have been less far-off, but still grounded in the if-I-never-get-a-real-job kind of way. It seemed important, but secondary to any 9 to 5 that I might find. And then today I got an email from an editor-friend and she told me that she wants to work with a writer who she can dialogue with about ideas. And she told me that she “wants in” on my book.
What’s funny to me as I sit here and write about my day is that I got this email in the exact moment that I was praying about writing and trying to hear a word from God about how I can best honor Him with my life. I mean, really praying. Like, laying myself open before God kind of praying. Like, from the deepest places in my soul kind of praying. Like, I couldn’t put words together kind of praying. And this is when I get this email from my friend who says she “wants in?”
Here’s the rub. Writing has always been this “other” thing in my life. It’s been something that I do to help me process my life, something that I do for me because it helps me make sense of the world. It’s never been something that I do with any kind of expectation of being read. Even this blog has been for that purpose – something that I do because it’s fun, not because I’m a writer. Writing a book, then, is something that I dreamed about doing if I were someone else, if I weren’t responsible, or if didn’t want to get a real job.
But, that’s only a half-truth. The real truth is that I love to write, probably more than I love to do anything else in the world, but it’s also the scariest way for me to spend my time. Because every time I write, I open myself up before God and I end up bleeding all over the page. All of my hopes and fears, all of my sins and all that I’ve been redeemed of, all that I’m scared to talk about somehow finds it’s way out through my pen or computer. So, I studied psychology in college and pursued counseling as a career because, actually, it was safe and I was good at it, and because I didn’t have to bleed in my office, my clients did.
I think, though, that in doing that – in choosing what was safe – I made God and my life very, very small, all because I was afraid. I’m so tired of being afraid, and so tired of living a life within the limits of what’s safe. I think by doing that, I’ve cheated myself out of a bigger life that God wants for me. John 10:10 (NASB) tells us that Jesus came to give us life abundantly, and I think that if I’m to live into this abundance that I’ve got to be willing to dream God’s big dream for my life and write this book. God says, “I want you to have life to the full,” and I’m finally saying to Him, “I want in!”
I want in, and so I’m doing that which seems irresponsible, but that is actually so clearly of God. I want in, and so I’m writing a book.