Monday, March 21, 2011
I'm reading a book about writing, and it does a lot of talking about first drafts and rewrites, and rewrites, and rewrites, and rewrites. Now I've always enjoyed writing, but I've honestly never been much of a rewriter. I was that person who finished the last paragraph of her term paper ten minutes before it was due, glanced over the paper for any glaring mistakes, and sprinted to class to turn it in three to five minutes after it was due. I have always said that I wished the teacher would email us an hour before the paper was due to tell us we had an extra day, because I think I could have turned in some fabulous second drafts that way. Unfortunately for me, that never happened, so I ended up sliding by with a lot of first draft papers. So this time around, I am determined to train myself how to rewrite my first drafts. Even in the bit of rewriting I have had the privilege to do, I have always been able to find great room for improvement in my pieces. Especially when I leave my work for a while, forget about it, and come back with a fresh eye, I am able to see things that I hadn't seen at first. I can't help but think that life has its own opportunities for rewrites, and I've probably missed a lot of chances for that in my life as well. Obviously I can't change anything that has happened, but that doesn't mean that the possibility for reconciliation and redemption of past mistakes doesn't exist for me. I just have to have the discipline to go back to my work and rewrite relationships or rewrite the way my heart feels toward people who have wronged me. And even if I can't right a wrong I have done in my life, I can rewrite the next situation I am in that is similar to those I have previously messed up. If I have learned from my mistakes, hopefully this draft will be better than the first. I think God always desires reconciliation and redemption of people, relationships, and situations in this life, so He gives us a lot of second chances. And probably third and fourth and fifth chances too. But if I never learn to evaluate my life and see what needs to be rewritten, I may end up reading that first draft back to myself in every second chance God gives me. So perhaps as I discipline myself to go back and write second and third and fourth drafts in my writing, I will gain some insight into how to edit my life in similar ways.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
One verse in the Bible I tend to (purposely?) forget about is in the sermon on the mount when Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies and pray for, or bless, those who curse them. I know that verse quite well, however I tend not to dwell on the implications of what he is telling us to do. The “love your neighbor” command I can handle fairly well, as long as I consider my neighbors the people who are really nice to me all of the time. And I’m working on loving my neighbors even when they treat me poorly or aren’t as nice to me as I’d like for them to be. But if it’s hard enough for me to love the people who love me when they are mean to me, should I really have to love people who don’t even like me? How on earth am I to make myself feel better about myself without those people to look down upon? Frankly I don’t like to think about what it would mean to truly love my enemy and pray for those who curse me. That means that if someone gossips about me and my friend tells me about it, I should in turn say something nice about them to my friend, ask how they are, and find something they need prayer for to add to my prayer list. How am I even supposed to be sincere about something like that? What if, instead, I simply hold my tongue and change the topic? I feel like that should be enough to keep any hatred from creeping into my heart. But dang it, what if that’s just my excuse to secretly harbor resentment and be able to silently hold a grudge against them that allows me to conjure up all of the flaws they must have in their life that make me better than they are and thus above any petty insults they throw at me to make me look less perfect than I obviously am? Whoa, where did that come from? Surely not from me, because I would never do something like that. So if I have absolutely no tendencies toward the mindset that I just described, which we already established that I absolutely don’t, then why would I have to go so far as to actively love and genuinely care for those who curse me? Shouldn’t their friends (if they even have any) be the ones taking care of that? I have way too many other people to be praying for. The only way I would ever see any benefit in praying for my enemies would be if somehow those prayers and concerns, however forced or fabricated at first, might slowly turn my heart from resentment and hostility toward the kind of unconditional love that God lavishes on all of his children, no matter how wretched they are or what kind of gossip they spread about the rest of His wretched children. And only then, after some miraculous transformation of my heart toward my enemy, would there be any chance that I may treat that person in a way that might startle them into a renewed mindset that I’m not quite as bad as they had heard I was and that maybe we wouldn’t have to be total enemies after all. And perhaps that unconditional love for my enemies would spill over into the rest of my life and color the way that I look at everyone I encounter so that I see them not just as random people but as beautiful children of God. Otherwise I just don’t see the point in going to all of that trouble, do you?