Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Full Disclosure: On Writing, Mixed Motives, & Redemption

If all goes as planned, I roll out a new blog in six days. I am equal parts terrified and excited.

Remaking what I've had in place for five and half years at a la mode has caused me to reflect {and overthink} on blogging and why I'm still doing it after almost 450 posts. 

I've considered the positives and the pitfalls. I've obsessed far too much about silly things. I've had to repent of messy motives. 

Most of all, I've doubted and despaired that I may never be able to pursue writing with complete purity of heart. 

And that has caused me to wonder whether I should do it at all. 

Then I apply that line of thinking to all of my pursuits. Marriage? Motherhood? The years I spent in school and college teaching and then homeschooling? All of these relationships and endeavors have been and still are a perfect storm of actual giftedness mixed up with selfishness and pride and all sorts of messy motives. Good and bad and everything in between all swirling around together. 

I love this excerpt from A Million Little Ways, a recent book by Emily P. Freeman:

The art I believe I was born to make lingers even in the midst of my inadequacy.        
Just because you can't fully live your life the way you so long to live it doesn't mean you don't fully believe it's possible with all your heart. And it doesn't mean you are forbidden to share what you're learning unless you are living it perfectly.      
Christ is in you and wants to come out through you in a million little ways--through your strength and also your weakness, your abilities and also your lack.      
I call it art, someone else calls it rubbish.      
So what?      
Call it what you will. God calls us his poem. And the job of the poem is to inspire. To sing. To express the full spectrum of the human experience--both the bright hope that comes with victory and the profound loss that accompanies defeat.

So I realize that if I wait to pursue anything--relationships, vocation, service--with only 100% pure motives and with a 100% pure product and with a 100% track record of living perfectly what I believe to be true and right, I'll be waiting until I die.

I've mentioned before that I'm knee-deep in the study of Matthew this year. Getting to know those in Jesus' inner circle has been refreshing, encouraging, and sometimes hilarious. Whenever I'm tempted to think I'm too much of a mess or too unprepared to really be of much good, I'm wise to consider the disciples. They fought over who would sit at Jesus' right hand, wanted to be considered the greatest in his kingdom, tried to send away children instead of allowing them to be blessed by Jesus, and were rebuked for their weak faith. Some even denied the very One who came to give them life. 

Talk about mixed motives. But God used them to change the world anyway. He used their strengths and their sins. He redeemed their pasts and their positions. He used their God-given gifts and their God-allowed inadequacies. Either way, it was all God and all grace. 

Like the disciples, I'm a broken person living in a fallen world. My marriage, my mothering, my writing, my many relationships--they're messy, laced with my good contributions and also many failures. But because of more grace than I can comprehend, they're being redeemed all the time. 

And because of this overwhelming grace and redemption, I can be a-very-much-in-process wife, mom, friend, and writer. 

I can write imperfect posts with honesty and with hope. I can keep putting my art out there with truthfulness and humility all the while acknowledging that there will inevitably be some hypocrisy and pride tainting its edges, whether I'm fully aware of it or not.

I don't write that because I'm fatalistic about my depravity or because I'm light-hearted about it. I write that because I want to be honest and because I have hope.

Hope that God, in his love, will continue to show me my sin and mixed motives. How else can I attain the freedom and joy that only repentance brings? 

Hope because I know I stand loved, forgiven, and redeemed in the messy midst of all the sacred work I do with my life. {And it is all sacred.}

Hope because I can gaze back and see how far I've come, not because of self-effort and boot-strapped righteousness but because God has set his love upon me and is remaking me. 

The remaking, much like pruning a delicate plant, is sometimes painful. It means cutting away things I'd rather keep. It means waiting. It means rest. It means seasons of ugly barrenness in order to give birth to new seasons of fruitful beauty. And this process of cutting away, waiting, ugly, beauty is a cyclical one. I'll never arrive and simply live in a state of blossomed beauty for the rest of my days. Redemptive pruning lasts a lifetime.

So I will keep writing in this remade space, mess and neuroses and all. 

Bear with me as I try to write with humility, honesty, humor, and hope. 

Bear with me as I do this imperfectly and inconsistently. 

Bear with me as hypocrisy, pride, selfish ambition, and fear of man are inevitably thrown in the pot and mixed up with all the good stuff. 

I dream that I might make a difference with the words I write in this space. But I try to let go of any hard and fast visions of what that might look like. 

I hope that I'll have words to write, hope to share, grace to give, and humor to lighten our hearts for many posts to come. But I try not to cling too tightly. I want to be ready to lay it down and walk away should I ever need to. 

Being known and loved perfectly and intimately by the Creator of the universe is an incomprehensible gift. And I want this to matter more than being known and loved by those who read my posts. I don't want this space and the person typing out the words that fill this space to ever become too important. This is hard. Because the things we love most always have a way of becoming the things we love too much.

This is a season of new opportunity. And though I certainly have a few ideas and hopes and dreams, I teeter on the scale of acceptable enthusiasm versus unacceptable ambition. 

I accept that there are good things here: finding gifts in the mess and the mundane, spilling encouragement from the overflow of my own life, writing honest stories of hope out of imperfect marriage and crazy motherhood, and even sharing the magic popcorn recipe. Yet these spiffed-up posts can still have a bit of muck at their core. 

I suppose I write all of this because I need you to know. And because I need to remind myself. 

Something about the shiny new blog that I'm unveiling--this lovely, long-held dream of mine--urges me to pull back the curtain so that you can see me in all of my shaking, sweaty, lounge-pants-wearing, people-pleasing, mixed-motived glory. 

Putting one's art out there is a such a paradoxicial gesture--humility mixed with pride, confidence blended with fear, a longing to encourage followed by a longing to be loved for it. 

Welcome to the neurotic life of a writer. Welcome to the mixed-motives that characterize each one of us, if we're honest. Welcome to a God who's big enough to use it all anyway. Welcome to redemption. 


If you're interested in more on this topic of mixed motives, I appreciated this post that Emily wrote a while back: For the Artist Who Worries Her Motives Are Wrong

Thanks for counting down the days with me to the new blog. I can't wait to show you around. I'm hoping and praying that we won't have debilitating glitches but that's always a possibility. I'm so glad my life doesn't depend on a smooth transition. 

If you'd like to weigh in on some of the questions I asked in this post, I'd love that.

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This post first appeared at a la mode: a little scoop for every slice of life.

All book links are amazon affiliate links.


  1. This is beautiful and honest, and as a writer I'm so with you. I do hope the launching of your new look in this space will go smoothly : ) Excited about the unveiling!

  2. Scooper,
    It has been said before -- your writing reflects what I need to read.
    Thank you!
    I'm looking forward to seeing the hopeful future described in new ways through your new endeavors.
    Thank you for being open to sharing your gift of writing with us.

  3. So happy I discovered you through Emily's blog. She is very generous to invite us in and I love poking around the links finding Internet Treasure. Now I'm heading back to WP to see your new space. Will this content stay here for awhile? There's so much to explore:)

  4. I discovered you through Emily's blog. She is very generous to invite us in and I love poking around the links finding Internet Treasure.



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