I’m at the stage in book writing where the skeleton of the book is coming together. I spend time reflecting on chapter ideas and how they all fit together and what makes sense to my reader. What does my reader need to know first so that this other piece makes sense? How do I get the swirling mess of ideas in my head onto the paper in a way that someone else could walk through it with me?
Last week I started running. Well, let’s call it jogging. Or super fast walking. I couldn’t keep up with my 7-year-old daughter at her school track and it hit me that I wasn’t getting any younger. So I printed out one of those Couch to 5K training sheets and ran three minutes last week for the first time in a long time. I ran into the house, high-fiving everyone, exclaiming, “THREE minutes! I ran for three minutes!”
I was a little sore the next day and then remembered to stretch afterwards. New activity, new muscles being used, new pain and adjustment.
It’s the same with my editing muscle in book writing. When I was an associate pastor, I preached maybe every 5-6 weeks so I would often try to fit every single thought I’d had in the past month into one sermon. Right. My early churches were so kind to me. Shout out to East Anchorage, Anchor Park and St. John. Churches who listen to preachers just starting out are saints. Now that I preach most weeks, my editing muscle is strong. Just this past week, I removed an entire part from my Easter message because it didn’t make the message stronger. In fact, it might have cluttered up what I was trying to say and my listener may have lost the point. That gets easier with time.
But I used to be so attached to that sentence or that story or that idea. I thought others might find meaning in it too so I needed to find a spot for it. And honestly, some days I believed my worth was tied to what I produced. As an early preacher, if I didn’t have a lot to say yet, or was nervous and lacked confidence, then reaching for every available thought helped me feel better. Like this was a sermon worth listening to.
Now I know how powerful editing is. Editing clears away the clutter, distractions and attempts at grasping approval so that the actual message – the point you want to make – comes through.
It’s true with this book. It has something it wants to say in the world and my job is to keep listening and allowing parts to fall away. Even parts I absolutely love.
It’s also true with our lives. There’s something that wants to be communicated through you in the world and your job is to keep listening and allowing parts to fall away. Even parts you absolutely love.
Maybe there’s a big dream calling your name. But you have no idea how to arrange your life so you can go after it. Get ruthless with your calendar, your time and your priorities. Allow some things to fall away for a season.
Maybe you’ve felt stuck in survival mode lately. You’re just getting through. Take a little time and reflect on why and what’s keeping you stuck. Talk with a trusted friend. Maybe there’s something you’re ready to let go that could be the shift you’re longing for.
I don’t have to tell you that our world is full of much pain and great beauty. We need more people fully alive, doing the things they were made to do, and being the people they want to be so that Love gets more room to work.
And if we’re going to live in the overflow of you fully alive, then you may have an invitation to ruthlessly edit your life in this season.
What needs to pause?
What wants to be put down?
What wants to be picked up when you have a little more room?
What is whispering your name?
I invite you to listen a little deeper. The thing that may bring you even more life may be patiently waiting for your full attention.