Three years ago, I sat down to begin writing a book and two years ago I published it. Ever since, I have yet to actually read it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve technically read it more times than anyone ever has or ever will, but I’ve never read it just to enjoy the story. Even after I finished proofreading it a hundred times and had a printed hardcopy in hand, I could never open the pages and not find something wrong with it. If only I had worded something different or added this element to the story, I would think to myself with a resolution fierce enough to warrant rewriting the entire manuscript. After all, this was my story and I wanted to perfect it.
But then I realized, there are elements to this story that I cannot control. First, no matter what words I use or how I order my sentences, I cannot control how someone will interpret the story. I cannot ensure their enjoyment of it. Out of the handful of people who will read it, its guaranteed that at least some of them won’t like it. Secondly, although as odd as it sounds, I was never fully in control of the story. Stories are a living breathing thing. When I wrote the first chapter, words came out that I didn’t expect, and it necessitated the plot go this way or that.
So, as we approach the season for which my book takes place, my goal this year is to simply enjoy the story. To somehow detach myself from authoring it and dive into its adventure and wonder. To not criticize it or make one single note about what I need to correct.
I can’t help but think there is an analogy and application here that goes beyond just reading. Perhaps another Christmas story will help. One of my favorite moments in the nativity story is when right in the midst of all the busyness, Mary takes a moment to “ponder all these things in her heart” Notice here that she pondered things in her heart and NOT in her head.
If I could some me up in a diagnosis it would be “over head pondering” I am an over-thinker and over-analyzer, I couldn’t keep up with a blog if I wasn’t. I’ve never sat down to just enjoy my own book and in some ways, I’ve never paused long enough to enjoy the story I am living right now. I can’t count how many times I’ve thought this year or years past have gone by so fast. How many sunsets have I missed? How many times have the stars been out and I didn’t take the time to look?
We can learn a lot from Mary’s heart pondering. Here is a snapshot where Mary chooses instead of making sure everything in that moment was perfect, that she actually lived in the moment. Instead of trying to author it, a responsibility she was never given, she embraced it. It was the greatest moment in history and she wasn’t going to let overanalyzing stop her from enjoying it.
Mary knew two things First, she was not in control of what others thought about the story; and a lot of people would have had their opinions about Mary’s situation. Being an un-wed woman claiming to somehow still be a virgin, yet having child, many people would have thought she was nuts at the very least. Second, she was not in control of her story. Mary’s story was a piece of the world’s biggest puzzle and God was the puzzle maker. Things came up that Mary didn’t expect and when the plot went this way or that, she faithfully followed.
This season, during the wonder of Christmas, may we learn to enjoy our adventures and the beautiful moments God has given us. Let go of having to author or perfect Christmas morning and simply pay attention to and enjoy where the adventure takes you.