This isn’t the post you were supposed to be reading.
I had another one all written and ready to publish last week. And it was good, too. It was one I’d been thinking about for a long time, on a subject I thought was pretty important.
I had tried to write that post a few times over the past months with no success. Every time I tried, it ended up just sounding preachy. Okay, so I was kind of intending to preach to some loved ones in my life who I thought could benefit from this particular bit of wisdom from me. But I didn’t want it to sound like preaching. I didn’t want them to recognize that I was directing it to them. Really, I thought, it was a lesson everyone – including me – should hear.
What I needed was a good vehicle through which to present it, an experience from my own life that I could use as an example. So I kept putting it on the back burner and watching for something I could use.
But I got impatient. I needed to share this lesson now. Or … I wanted to.
So I decided to take something that almost happened, that partially happened … well, that could have happened, and write it up as if it did happen. Now, I’ve never fictionalized a post before, and I wondered if it was a violation of blog ethics or anything. I was kind of uncomfortable with it; it felt like a betrayal of my readers. But it was a good object lesson, with myself as the dingbat in the middle of it who had to learn the moral the hard way. All very humorous and full of humble pie. So I thought it would be okay. Just this once.
Instead of publishing it immediately, as I always do because I’m much too eager to ever wait and let things germinate properly (hence the number of times I have to go back and correct boo-boos after the fact), I hesitated. I had involved my sister in this semi-fictional example, so – thought I – perhaps I ought to run it by her to make sure it was okay with her. And while I was at it, since I was waiting anyway, perhaps I ought to run it by another friend.
See, right there I should have known something was amiss. I don’t run my posts by people. I just run with them.
My friend got back to me first – “Whoa! Well written … important subject … sounds angrier or more intense than usual, though.”
Huh? Angry? I thought it was funny.
Then I heard from my sister. Also not crazy about it.
Not the responses I expected from two of my biggest fans! Two people I can always count on to encourage me and build me up and …
And be honest with me.
So I started thinking. I recounted to myself the struggles I had had with this particular post. Instead of coming easily, as most of them did, I had been struggling with it for months. Instead of having a ready example from my life to use, as I always seem to have, I had to manufacture one. When it was written, I hesitated to publish it under the guise of getting some feedback first, which I never, ever do. And that feedback was less than enthusiastic, from people whose opinions I value very much.
As all those thoughts filled my head, the Holy Spirit filled my heart with the sure knowledge that I was not supposed to publish that post.
Now, because I am nothing if not persistent (read: mulishly stubborn), I did try reasoning with God a little bit. In my defense, I just wanted to make sure I was hearing Him right. Here’s how that conversation went (well, I was really both sides of the conversation – I didn’t hear a big, booming voice or anything, but I do believe God was directing my thoughts):
“Okay, God, but this has been on my heart for a long time.”
“And it’s the kind of behavior that really everyone engages in at some point or another, so it’s a good lesson for everyone.”
“And it might help someone.”
“And it might reach my loved ones, to whom it’s actually directed!”
“So if it’s a good lesson that might reach the right people, why shouldn’t I publish it?”
“It’s not your lesson to teach.”
Yep, there it is. That’s it in a nutshell. This is God’s lesson, not mine. Maybe it’s not the right time, maybe they aren’t the right words, maybe I’m not the right vehicle. My sister once told me, when I was struggling with whether to volunteer in a particular way at church, “Serving in a ministry to which God has not called you is a sin as much as refusing to serve in a ministry to which He has.”
For whatever reason, God doesn’t want me involved in bringing this particular message. Who knows what havoc I might have wreaked had I ignored that not-so-still, not-so-small voice? I might have done all kinds of damage. Who knows? I don’t, and I’m grateful I won’t ever find out.
I have to admit, though, that inside there’s a little part of me that’s thinking, but if I don’t tell them, how will they ever figure it out?
And then, in my mind’s eye, I see God up there saying, “Seriously?” in that incredulous tone of voice we use with our kids when they said the Stupidest. Thing. Ever.
Oh yeah. I forgot for a second there. He is God alone. Who am I that He should do things my way?
p.s. Also, the only fiction you will ever read on this blog will be under the “fiction” tab. My promise to you.