The other day, I heard my late mother’s spirit tell me to write from my heart. That the secret to my success as a writer would come from being honest. I need to excavate the truth to the tip of my tongue, and no longer second-guess the Spirit that flows through me. I have to stop fighting the Spirit with fear. It’s far easier said than done, but I trust her. I know she’s right.
It’s impossible to write an honest blog if you’re not living an honest life. The American workforce puts us all in a straight jacket, which is why there are few, if any, honest blogs from women who work in the government and private sectors. If you know of one, please send it to me.
In my experience, the most honest, beautiful blogs are from women who either work for themselves or who work from home. Many live in rural settings, often on farms. Two of my favorites are Sarah Bessey and Lazy W Marie. I admire the freedom with which both write. They are not encumbered by sterile obligations.
“No legacy is so rich as honesty,” wrote William Shakespeare in his tragedy-comedy All’s Well That Ends Well. But, how do you create such a legacy? It cannot be achieved by following a pattern. It requires something far more time-consuming, complex and mystical than a paper doll chain merely cut from folded paper and dotted lines. A legacy of honesty requires a commitment to worship, Scripture and prayer. These things drive us below the thin paper surface of our days, to a richer, less self-centered life; a life defined by belief in the eternal shore, the Elysian Field.
This kind of life is living in the Spirit, not in the flesh, which is only possible through gifts born of and given by the Triune God. When we live in the Spirit we answer the call of freedom, which is love. As Paul the Apostle wrote in Galatians 5:13-15,
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love reserve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
Everywhere I go, whether in real life or online, I witness this great withholding of Love. As if at any moment we could not all be wiped from the face of the earth in some mass shooting or creeping cancer. We live as if we are going to go on forever in this world. As if our days are not numbered. As if the woman accepting our bags of junk at the Goodwill Donation Center, is not fully human and fully present in our day. As if she is not part of your destiny. You can choose to ignore her or you can choose to embrace her as the angel she may well be. Perhaps you are her angel and she is half demon, and you have brought your junk to bring your Light.
This is how my mother lived. Her life was singspiration, and the interactions she had with store clerks, cashiers, mechanics and neighbors were Spirit-filled. They changed the course of the entire world, for one whisper of Love can breathe hope into another day and the ripples of peace go on forever and multiply like loaves and fishes that feed the world.
Likewise, our great withholding is a tragedy. We withhold celebration, validation, acceptance from friends, family and acquaintances. We pander to people of influence, using the currency God has given us to get what we want instead of giving others what they need. Daily, I am astonished not only by the self-centeredness of people, but the short-sightedness of myself. I know all these things to be true, and still I squander my life in petty pursuits and squabbles and worthless competition.
It’s no way to live a life that could at any moment end and be forgotten, by most, if not all.
These days, I am looking for the unseen. Once again, the words of Paul the Apostle in the Book of Romans:
Treasures in Jars of Clay
Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always consigned to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our mortal bodies. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
And in keeping with what is written: “I believed, therefore I have spoken,”c we who have the same spirit of faith also believe and therefore speak, knowing that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is extending to more and more people may overflow in thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Earlier today, I spoke with a friend who told me they must approach the world as a lion in a standoff with a hyena. She said it wasn’t enough to kill the hyena. She had to leave the animal damaged and devastated, so all who see will know what will happen if anyone attacks her. I wonder how many other people approach life like this. It’s not just kill or be killed. It’s thrive or wimper, pontificate or grovel.
When I look to the future and imagine how my life will be in old age, the same seen plays out in my head. It is much like how my mother lived and died. I am living down an old, dirt road, in a small house with a white picket fence. There are weather vanes and bird houses and wisteria vines, like the ones I planted at the first house I bought with my first husband. Long ago, we divorced.
Most of my days are spent alone, with God. My children are grown, and I see them sometimes, coming down the lane. So many people come down the lane. Those who have not yet died, and even those who have. They are coming for tea and for Love. They come to rest. They come just to be. To a place where the hard edge of life has filed down the rough edges, revealing forgiveness, and always, the forgiven.