Piles of Words and Ebenezer Stones

The internet is full of opinions about what makes a writer. Some say you have to write every day. For others, it’s as simple as calling yourself a writer. Or perhaps you have to be published, or meet some other requirement.

I don’t know what makes a writer—not really.

But one of my favorite ideas is that a writer is someone who can’t not write.

It may not be true for every writer, but it is for me.

I’ve spent the last year or so living in two different chapters of my life as Susanna and I have written the story of the dress. By day, I’ve gone about my everyday life—class and church and friends and vacations and figuring out my health and reading good books and quite a bit of Parks and Recreation.

By night (or evening or very early morning or mid-afternoon or whenever else I had some time), I’ve re-lived a season of high school over and over again as we’ve gone through the various stages of writing and editing.

I’ve sat in a place where God seems silent and distant and told about a time when he was anything but.

I don’t always know how to manage that tension. How do I honor both of these seasons as true? Can it really be the same God and the same me when the circumstances feel so different?

But are they?

It’s easier to look back on a time and say where God was working than it is to recognize his presence when I’m muddling through. I’ve read the story of the year of the dress again and again and again, and I can tell you now that God was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, faithful.

But I didn’t always hear him or see him or feel him.

A writer is someone who can’t not write.

I’ve been thinking about why it is that I have to write—why feel off-kilter when I don’t.

Writing is how I make sense of the world around me. But sometimes, it’s more than that.

Many a pastor has preached on the value of remembering God’s faithfulness in the midst of hard seasons. In fact, my pastor touched on that in his sermon yesterday. It’s what the Israelites did throughout their history. When God moved, they set Ebenezer stones to remind themselves of what he had done.

And so this little book has become a pile of stones.

Because sometimes, I write to remember.

When the God who claims to be the same yesterday and today and forever seems to change, I need to tell again of his faithfulness, to remind myself that he has yet to abandon me—even when I can’t find him anywhere.

Sometime today, the UPS man is going to deliver page proofs for the book. One last walk through the story of the dress before it goes to print. (Somebody pinch me.) One more reminder of how God has shown up again and again.

I hope that come March, it reminds you of the same thing.

Because even on the days we struggle to believe it, God is faithful.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer,
Hither by thy help I’ve come,
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
    (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)

And so for today, I will remember it again. God was good and kind and present, even when I wasn't able to see him.

Why would I think this season would be any different?

Photo by Tomi Lattu, Creative Commons