Victoria Advocate, A Different Perspective
The first draft of any writing piece is lousy. In my case, it’s wordy, and thoughts clunk down the page with little order and no transitions. Spelling and grammar errors abound, including anecdotes I think are wonderful but have nothing to do with the topic.
But that’s only the initial draft.
Getting started on a short column, an important email, or an eighty-thousand word novel is the hard part for me. I counter this block (and quit procrastinating) by giving myself permission to do it badly. The screen would stay blank until eternity if I waited to feel confident. Once I’ve streamed words onto a document, I let it cool off for a day or two before I revise it. In the meantime, I try not to dwell on the first draft because it’s only the first step.
But God understands the process is messy. And he’s patient about it, gently guiding me through the editing stage until we’re both satisfied. After all these years, I’d still do it differently. My preference would be to not go through the process—I’d much rather slap it down, call it done, and convince myself an inferior product is acceptable.
Professional writing just doesn’t work that way. Neither does life.
Messes happen. Years ago, I worked at a Sylvan Learning Center. It was a place where school-age children could receive supplement instruction, particularly if they were behind in a subject. Sometimes a student had learning difficulties, but more often than not, a child didn’t like a particular subject or teacher, dug their heels in and refused to learn. And yes, eventually they failed that subject. I told prospective parents that children could, yes indeed, dig a hole so big, they couldn’t climb out by themselves. They needed real help to get back on track. The win-wins happened when the parents got on board with us and helped the child get caught up. But here’s a newsflash: children aren’t the only ones who can dig holes so deep they can’t climb out—adults do it too. But if we come to God with a sincere heart, he hears and helps.
But what about the times we haven’t done anything wrong? A friend was sitting in her car at a stoplight and got rear-ended. Mind you now, all she was doing was waiting for the light to turn. It wasn’t fair her car was wrecked. To complicate matters, it’s been months, and the company still hasn’t figured out what to do. But here’s the common pitfall—she could have blamed God because he allowed it, but how would we ever mature as believers if God never allowed us the opportunity to grow through negative experiences? He never promised bad things wouldn’t happen; he said when they did, he would be with us.
We live in a fallen world and messes happen. God doesn’t make the messes, but he promises to be in the mess with us. Kind of like when King Nebuchadnezzar had the three Hebrew men tossed into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to an idol. The fire was so hot the soldiers who threw them in perished. Then the king proclaimed, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)
Our messes are not too hard for God. We need to believe he’s with us and grasp his outstretched hand so he can show us the way out.