Today I want to share that I'm discovering I'm writing our "land of welcome" book as much for me as I am for you.
Here's what I mean.
In my heart and mind with this book so far, it's been primarily about gift — about something I'm writing to offer you and all the inhabitants of this Still Forming land as a gift from my heart, mind, soul, and spirit about the process of transformation and how we might live inside the cycles of it within the context of our welcoming community.
So far, I've broken the book into five parts that mirror the verbs of the transformation process:
- Tell the Truth
Each section, as far as I can tell, will have a few essays on what it can look like to live out that particular verb in the process.
So this past week, after about a month of creative planning, I entered into my first official writing session for the book. (Hooray! That was a pretty exciting threshold to cross.) It happened late at night and resulted in about 850 words written — not a whole lot, admittedly, but at least 850 more words than I'd had before I wrote them.
And what surprised me was the way the book started teaching me what I'm needing to learn myself.
I wrote content in two different sections that night. The first was part of the "tell the truth" process. I was writing from a place of memory about my first truth-telling moment and, through the writing, noticed I had repeated some variation of one particular phrase at least three times: "I'm doing just fine on my own."
This is one of the truths that emerged in my first truth-telling moment 15 years ago — an admission to myself and to God that I didn't understand my need for grace or Jesus because I seemed to be handling holiness and salvation pretty well on my own, thank you very much. I've got this, I seemed to be saying to God, so why do I need your gift?
Funny thing, this admission. You want to know why? Because the idea that I'm doing just fine on my own still inhabits my life today.
It's less about God now and more about people. When I noticed that phrase had cropped up at least three times in that short burst of writing, my mind flew to a more recent memory — one from just a few days earlier, in my most recent session of therapy.
In that session, my therapist, Debbie, had helped me see that I exist this way in relationships still today. I seem instinctively conditioned to take care of myself and not ask very much from others. This has mostly to do with not trusting others with myself, not trusting they'll know how to extend care for me or that they'll even want to. Debbie is encouraging me to trust more — to be courageous enough to see my needs and desires in relationship and then to voice those needs and desires to others.
So when I was writing about that truth-telling experience from 15 years ago and noticed the "I'm doing just fine on my own" phrase is still part of my life today, this was quite a revelation.
And it was a further revelation concerning the book, you see, because of the reason I'm writing the book. I'm writing it for our community. I'm writing it as an invitation for us to start sharing the journey together. I'm believing it's our conversation starter, our entryway into being real with other trusted pilgrims on the journey.
I need to receive the gift of this just as much as I want to offer it as a gift to you.
And here's where I've landed with all this.
Fifteen years ago, when I told God that I didn't really understand why I needed his gifts of grace and Jesus because, really, I was doing just fine on my own, I had no idea that grace and Jesus were what I most needed to receive. That admission set me on a long and winding journey that traversed many years and eventually brought me to a place of overwhelming freedom and gratitude for the two gifts I never knew I needed more than anything else in this world.
I have a feeling this process of learning to trust and let others in might prove to be the same.
As I wrote at the end of my writing session the other night, I wonder if one of the reasons I needed to learn grace those many years ago was so that I could learn to receive really abundant and beautiful gifts from another, namely God. I wonder if learning to receive such beautiful gifts from God has paved the way for becoming more open to receiving wonderful gifts from others, too.
Do you ever struggle to receive from others? Do you struggle to share your needs and desires with others? Me too. Hopefully through our shared land of welcome, we can learn together to receive more of this gift.