Tuesday was one of my rare days off, so my roomies and I had dinner together and watched This is 40, which is described as the “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up.”
While this post has nothing to do with the movie besides being influenced by the sub-title, I did want to follow up on my last post on prayer. I gave some ground on why I’m not praying anymore, and I heard some amazing responses as a result, so I hope to further the conversation by writing about why I write.
Since I was young, writing has been my niche. It’s been my go-to talent for as long as I can remember, and it’s been a powerful tool at putting into words what my tongue gets too tied to say or my own mind is too twisted by anxiety to express. It’s my way of processing, and, in its own way, it’s been my most consistent form of prayer.
Prayer is about connecting, and writing has connected me to the world around me in one of the deepest ways possible.
When my mind becomes to anxious to make sense of anything, writing all the anxieties down calms my brain enough to take a step back and find perspective in my life, and to tell the demons in my head that they are nothing but illusions.
When I’m too nervous to say something to someone when it needs to be said, good or bad, typing or writing it makes my thoughts and sentiments a bit more legible, and a bit more understanding and graceful.
When I have lots of fun ideas and stories brewing in my mind, writing gives them life and release and potential to be something more.
I feel connected to the ones who read my words. I feel connected to my own self, what I’m feeling, thinking, and processing on any given day, and it helps me to process my past experiences that still influence me today. I feel connected to the people whose stories I write, because even the stories of fiction are in some way inspired by my own experiences.
I write to feel connected with the people in my life. I’ve written letters to my mom on Mother’s Day and to my grandmother when her mother was in bad health. I’ve written notes to encourage friends in rough times and to remind them how special they are to me and to so many others. I’ve received so much love in the form of writing through letters sent to me from dear friends and family, asking how I’m doing, to encourage me, to tell me how special I am to them. When I worked at a summer camp in 2010, the most exciting days were the days I received mail from others, including my birthday when I received many cards from my dear loved ones, reminding me that while I was out of sight, I was no where near out of their minds.
I feel a deep connection to others when I write sermons that I speak to inspire and remind them of their worth and the love God has for them. When I wrote poems and stories as a child, I wrote about animals and books and things I loved so dearly; the words I wrote contained my deepest passions. When I read a post by Rachel Held Evans on doubt, or a book by Margot Starbuck about abandonment, I feel connected to these people I barely know because of our shared experiences. When I read the Daily Connections my fellow RISE leaders send to each other, I feel a deeper connection with them as they write about their fears, dreams, and lives. My cousin Emily wrote a beautiful note to my grandfather after he passed away, and when it was read at his funeral, it was another reminder of how much he had impacted our lives and how dearly he would be missed.
Writing has also been one of my most useful forms of therapy. I practically wrote my way through surviving adolescence, and I jotted down notes to calm me down at work on receipt papers and in the journal pages in the back of my planner. As odd as it may sound, writing helped me find the voice of Love within me, and I like to think this voice belongs to the God who is always with me and for me.
When I write, I don’t know if I feel closer to God as I once viewed him, but I feel closer to the core of who I am, which frees me up to be closer to the people around me, which frees me up to be closer to the world around me, which I believe in some abstract, six-degrees-of-separation way frees me up to be closer to God.
Because now prayer looks a lot like reflecting, with others and with myself. It looks like connecting with others, hearing their dreams, pains, and stories, and loving them authentically for who they are. And it looks like taking the time to know who I am and who I’ve been created to be. Prayer to me has taken on a whole new form, but if it connects me with the lives and pain of others and myself, I believe it is also connecting me with the One who made all of us.