I may have shared before about my process for writing a blog post, but bear with me.
My topics come to me in various ways (usually as a result of an area in which I am currently struggling or ways I have screwed up). When I actually sit down to write, as a general rule, I am on my blue leather couch in my living room, facing my picture window, iPad and keyboard on my lap.
For the next half-hour to hour, my fingers fly over the keyboard as fast as they possibly can, trying to keep up with my brain, which is a challenge, for sure. When my stream of consciousness is done, I read it over for spelling and grammar errors and then publish. If try to edit too much of the content, I ruin the flow.
It’s best to keep my hands off.
This process is what I consider miraculous.
Only God can say something significant through such an insignificant person with less than significant writing skills.
In the past few weeks I have done two Soul Selfie Soirées. I describe them as 3-Hour interactive women’s events where I speak (non-stop) for an hour and a half. Then we unpack some blogs together in smaller circles for the remainder of the time…after we get some snacks, of course.
Preparing the content of this talk had to be done differently than writing a 700 word blog. I think it ended up being over 10,000 words. I basically went through both of my books, picked out posts that matched the themes (themes like identity, community, comparison, secrets, trauma, gossip, etc.) and then used those to formulate an outlined talk, following the acrostic S.E.L.F.I.E.
I was also scheduled to speak at one of the churches on a Sunday morning. This time slot was only 30 minutes and I didn’t wan’t to repeat the same info from the event 2 nights prior, so my plan was to use a past talk I did on “Growing Through Adversity” about a year ago.
I made a copy of it and sat down on the couch to “practice” it out loud. About half way through I said out loud, “This is NOT the one.”
So much had changed in me over the past year. I had done dozens of podcasts and spoken at a variety of events, written several dozen blogs and well, grew up a little in a few ways.
The Me who wrote that blog was different.
photo courtesy of First Christian Church of Napa
I felt like there were holes in what I said back then, and today I had some new experiences and lessons-learned-the-hard-way to fill in the gaps.
I pulled out my iPad and started a quick outline entitled: Trusting God in the Trauma, the Drama, and the Minutia of Everyday Life. I quickly listed several subtopics and previous posts that supported each section and within 5 minutes I had the infrastructure of a new talk.
On my home from my office, where I had sequestered myself so I could write undistracted (and by that I mean, from all the little ways I find to distract myself at my house), I called my husband to ask if he thought I was crazy to try to write an entirely new talk and practice delivering it alongside and hour and a half talk that I also had to practice and deliver.
He said we should both pray about it and then chat more the next day.
The next morning I woke up and the first thought I had is one I believe came straight from God. He said something in the vein of:
“Heather. You came up with that outline and it’s general content in approximately 5 minutes. No offense, but do you really think that was just you ‘being crazy’?”
As I continued to hone the message, I realized, with some strong affirmation from my husband, who has written and delivered about a thousand sermons as a teaching pastor, that I needed to stop at the Trusting God in the Trauma section.
That was my message. No need to go further for this one.
This process reminds me of what I have come to learn over much repetition and practice over the past several years. It’s also a slogan I hear many of my friends use on a regular basis: Easy Does it.
The message is that when hard doesn’t work, easy often does. When I force a solution, or insert my will when I know God’s will has me heading a different direction, I know I have gotten ahead of God.
When I manipulate, coerce, and try to “figure it out”, it very often means I am not letting God have His way in me. I am resting on my own laurels. I am relying on my personality and edging God out.
My reading today from author Oswald Chambers suggests that “ when I stop telling God what I want, He can catch me up for what He wants without let or hindrance. He can crumple me up or exalt me, He can do anything He chooses. He simply asks me to have implicit faith in Himself and His goodness.” (My Utmost For His Highest, p 315)
God-help me to stay out of the way and not let personal interest or ambition distract me from my primary spiritual aim-to draw all who hear me into Your presence, not impress them by mine.