Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Vulnerability in Writing

When I first shared my blog with some friends, I sent the link with these introductory words, “For me writing feels like holding an egg. I want to share my thoughts, but I feel so vulnerable. It doesn’t take much pressure to break the egg and the life that goes with it. It then takes a lot of courage to be willing to hold another egg.“ They encouraged me to write an entry about this. So here goes.

When I offer words for others to read, I want to offer a glimpse into my soul. But in doing so, I risk rejection which is my greatest fear. A negative response unknowingly becomes a flaming arrow that ignites smoldering fears. Did I say too much? Am I being too honest and open? Do my dark and messy places cause discomfort in people for I know they bring me shame?

Over the years I have watched the agonizing process of several dear ones as they worked to complete their master’s theses and PhD dissertations. So much fear lurks below the surface. “Is this good enough? Is it researched enough? Do my words say what I need them to say?"

Several weeks before Christmas, I walked to the Great Reading Room on campus which is part of the original library. This room is truly magnificent in every dimension. The walls are lined with beautiful bookcases where theses and dissertations stand. It was with sweetness that I walked around the room and read the acknowledgements. These bound books represent a finished work and the pages reflect a portion of their lives. Each time they opened their writing to another's eyes, they offered the fragile egg and the life within.

I truly admire the humility and strength of these to journey forward in spite of sometimes life crushing criticism. Every time they share a chapter with their advisors, they hope for encouragement and a tiny breath of life to fan their flame. Sometimes their flames glowed so dimly that criticism without encouragement left only a tiny glow.

I think back on periods in my life when my "flame" was but a tiny, tiny ember. I am so very grateful for those people who believed in me and sent encouragement my way.

A bruised reed he will not break and
A smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
(Isaiah 42:3)