It's been two weeks since Sarah Bessey commented on my "When Baptist Women Go Wild" blog post, and I've been too terrified to write until now. Sometimes the things you dream about actually happen, and instead of giving you courage, it just intensifies the voice of the inner critic. I've always wanted to be known for my writing, to have a voice that can connect with and encourage others. I love the power of story, as a listener and a writer. But my doubts whisper that I have nothing meaningful to say, that the affirmation I've received is a fluke, unmerited, or a dangerous precursor to pride. When I began writing, it was for me, yet I felt alone. Now that others read my thoughts, I struggle with the temptation to become something I'm not, to lose myself to gain the appreciation of others.
When I get overly stressed, I tend to get sick and lose my voice. It has always seemed to be my body's (or God's) way of getting my attention when all else fails. As a minister, I need my voice, but the loss of it forces me to stop working and care for myself. There are times when fear results in me losing my writing voice, a sickness called writer's block. And so I have forced myself to sit and put the words on a page, returning to the practice, the spiritual discipline of writing as the creative urge was initially born in me.
It's been a dark couple of weeks, filled with news of violence and death. It's not out of the ordinary these days, sadly; but these incidents have hit closer to home. My students have recently lost family members, a student at a nearby university was killed, our church community has suffered through loss and tension, and the local news is filled with senseless acts of brutality and pain. We are surrounded by reminders of gratitude and thanksgiving, but our hearts are heavy.
I recently finished watching the TV series "Breaking Bad" with my husband. We went through the five seasons in about a month and a half, riveted to the premise that a "good guy" could turn so bad. I kept searching for signs of redemption. I connected with the characters early on and wanted to know there was hope for them. Sometimes it was realized, and other times I had to live in the tension. It's a lot like life (not the meth part, but the tension between good and evil, light and dark). We walk through dark times, searching for the light. The greatest tragedy is when we lose all sense of hope and get sucked into the darkness. But I'm realizing more and more that the light is always within us. As a Christian, we claim the calling that we are to be people of light. We are reminded that the "light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5). Jesus is that light and is the source of our hope, the example that resurrection is real. The very desire to seek the good and lament the bad is evidence that there is a greater hope that calls to us. So shine brighter, you lights; recognize the light within and set the world ablaze with the promise that the darkness will not win.