Take Me Back Into Memory

For those of you who followed along in my (very long!) post a couple days ago about my spiritual wanderings and how they eventually landed me in new territory with my business and my writing in the last two weeks, you know that, in the end, I agreed to embark upon a journey into a long-time-coming book. You also know that the writing of this book will be a journey I can't take alone; somehow, I will be getting it written and eventually finished with God's help.

This is a good thing, as shortly after committing myself to this process, I realized that I'm about to write about a ten-year period of my life for which I have no record. Meaning, journals. I've kept journals my whole life, with a diary or a bound journal or even a spiral-bound writing notebook always nearby, on my nightstand or in my purse, in order to record my days, my private thoughts, or my prayers . . . except not for this ten-year period, at least not in any substantial form.

I very clearly remember the first few days of my shift into this journey I'm supposed to now write about -- the first few days of realizing my spiritual life, and therefore the future trajectory of my life in total, was about to change. When this realization hit me, I stopped journalling on purpose, and I did this for two reasons. First, because what was happening was so massive that I couldn't begin to try putting it into words, even for myself, even for a sustaining prayer. And second, because a large part of what was being accomplished in me through that shift had to do with doing less, in order to learn how to just be. Part of doing less included a full-stop on words. (I've shared a bit about this full-stop period here.)

So, no words. Just one very long season of growth and paying attention, only without writing anything down. Very weird, and very hard. Especially now, as I sit staring at a computer screen, hoping to write a book about what happened in that whole length of time and why it even happened in the first place.

Day 3 of this venture found me starting a new Word document. I titled it "One Girl's Drum," just a working title for now, as I need something to call it through this writing period and also need to make it more real by giving it a real name. I put a header on the document that includes the title, the page number, and my name.

And then I sat there. And sat there. You writers know what I'm talking about. Besides not now writing for instant publication (meaning, for this blog space, which always gets the creativity flowing without a problem, ever), I was also having to learn a new method to my madness: writing in conjunction with the Supreme Being of the Universe. No pressure there, of course.

After sitting for about five minutes, I gave up and shuffled off to bed. I crawled into bed, discouraged, and let Kirk wrap his arms around me. I told him I had no idea how this was going to happen or how it would work. He reminded me of a line from a combination of verses I claimed for myself a couple of years ago: "I am the Lord's handmaiden, created to will and work according to His good pleasure."

When he reminded me of this part about being the Lord's handmaiden, it was then easier for me to go to God in prayer. I found myself sitting at His feet, and He was seated on His throne. I was wearing a cream linen peasant dress, and my hair was long around me. I stared up at Him and adored His face. And eventually, I spoke.

"I'm scared," I told Him. "And I need Your help. This all just seems so big, everything You've done, and I don't remember all of it. Will You help me through this?"

He smiled at me, His eyes so full of the love they always hold. My mind went back to those initial days of the journey, which are so familiar to me and which therefore I know will be hard to capture fittingly in words. My mind then moved to a couple random moments in time, until it landed upon a very specific memory I had forgotten about. A key moment. A closely cherished one.

"Oh," I breathed. "I had forgotten about that." I sat with the memory for a moment, remembering its specialness to me, its specialness to me and Jesus. I offered up thanks that it had happened. And I realized what had just taken place: we had begun working together. He was giving me a place to start. "Okay, I can do that," I said. "I will start there."

The next morning, I got up and sat with the memory again, trying to go back into it. I could recall only bits and snatches. This surprised me, given how profoundly moving a moment it had been, how crucial it was to the foundation, how I'd even shared it with a few different close friends since then. You would think the telling of it would have branded it into my memory that much further.

This is the point at which I realized I had no records from that period of my life. This realization scared me, and I knew that I needed God again, so I opened my Bible. Mine is an ESV Journaling Bible, meaning it has ruled lines along the outside edges of the pages for you to journal your thoughts and notes as you read. I am reading my way through the psalms and journaling prayers in the margin after each day's reading, so I opened up to the next psalm. I read it aloud a couple of times and then plunged directly into the prayer bubbling up in my heart:

We are on this journey together, are we not, Lord? I really got a sense of that last night when I was scared of stepping out into this unknown land of writing a book. I really felt I could come to You, could tell You I was scared and that I wanted to run to other comforts that are not the true Comfort: You.

Kirk was good to remind me that I am the LORD's handmaiden, and so I sat at Your feet, just worshipping and adoring You. I felt so vulnerable in that place, all my controls over life slipping away, yet in that slipping still indicating they are there.

We sat together in that place, and we communicated with few words. You reminded me of that time You met me in the wood by the river in the mountains, how we sat togther in safety, how that was my first time ever imagining myself with You in my mind, in an image.

Please remind me, Jesus, what was spoken in that place between us and how it formed that moment of my journey. It was pivotal, I know, and yet I do not remember the particulars. Remember that I had stopped journalling? This is where my memory fails me and makes me afraid to write. Do I have any true memories left? Can You teach me about my memories as we write these chapters together? I'm so scared because this means that it is so much more out of my control. Help me, Father, in the way You want me helped. Amen.

So this, now, is my prayer: that He would take me back into memory, restore to me the images and words that made up all the important days that have preceded my coming to this moment, the specifics of the times I can't remember. I've never asked God to restore to me my memory before. This is wholly new, and this is where I do know now, for sure, that we indeed are writing this book, Him and me, together.