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Friday, September 20, 2019

My right arm

A good friend asked me recently, out of the blue, if I had any writing projects I was working on. It was such a thoughtful question, and one that definitely caught me off guard. It felt like, "That's right...in another life, I was a writer." And well that's actually quite true. I blogged regularly for about 5 years, then wrote for an online publication, and almost signed a contract for a publishing deal with that publication. Writing has been a part of my life quite literally since childhood, my great grandmother supplying me with wide-ruled notebooks to fill up with silly stories and my English teachers cheering me on to keep at it. But once I stepped aside from my online job and stopped blogging, writing fell to the side. I wrote for my grad school application, and then a paper or two for my first quarter of school. Yet the regular tapping out my thoughts, watching as words fell onto the screen in a much more coherent manner than I could think them in my head, I kind of forgot about that. How much I loved it. How much it meant to me. How much I worked out and processed through from the first blink of the cursor until I'd filled up the page. This thing I defined myself by - "writer" - I stopped doing for the better part of 2 years.

It felt a bit like a knock in the head, when my friend asked me if I was writing anything. One, because that implied that he cared to read what I wrote and that's just plain kind of him. Two, because it made me remember that I wasn't doing this thing that I used to spend most of my time doing. A few years ago I would have excitedly answered back with a synopsis of my current project; this time all I had to say was, "Well, no."

And I don't think it was because of shame or regret, but I left that conversation feeling a little bit hollow.

Why wasn't I writing something? Had I just gotten busy? (I mean, yes - I now have a part-time job, am slowly working my way through grad school, have a family, and battle an autoimmune disease.) But is busyness powerful enough to really disconnect me from part of myself that felt as close and useful as my right arm? Writing had always been a lifeline. The thing I used to make sense of the crisscrossed wires in my brain. The process that energized me like little else, the creative spark in my mostly non-creative brain. (I can't paint, draw, make music, problem solve, or even build a Lego creation that's not a house or a tower.) It's not that I thought myself all that great; it just felt like "this is one of the things that I do when I'm me."

Seasons are allowed to change, and that's what I've mostly chalked up my non-writing past few years as being - a different season. New job, grad school, my illness had taken a turn for the worse, family life was a bit more demanding. But I've realized that in this new season, part of me subconsciously made the decision that I had changed. Mackenzie the Writer was now Mackenzie the Student, Mackenzie the Church Employee, Mackenzie the Chronic Illness Fighter. I preach more now, that's my content creation. I lay on the couch now, instead of furiously tapping on my keyboard. I had made some silent agreement with the lie that I had to be one or the other. It was possibly too messy to try and merge both selves, the old and the new. You're in a new season sister, just run with it and don't look back.

Why am I here? Writing on a medium that's been mostly dead since like 2016? Because I'm learning that even with a new job, in a new season, with less energy and more responsibility - writing is still one of the things that do, when I'm being most me. For the first time in a long time, I miss it. And I can tell I need it, because my brain has been a little too jumbled for a little too long - my husband will probably be happy about my newfound coherence, which is what the process writing often brings me :) Also, it's a conversation for another day, but the concept of PLAY as sabbath, of delight as Godly rest, has slammed into my life in a way I can no longer ignore. I am not a duty-doing-robot. I cannot just produce, sleep, and wake again. Even quiet prayer and reading the Word is not a substitute for the God-given spiritual practice of play, delight, fun. And writing, though it once was my job, has long been one of the ways I play.

So, I'm here. Because I may not be the old me, but parts of her are still swimming around in who I've evolved into today. And she's a writer. Vocationally or not. Yes, for school and sermons, but also because my fingers get itchy and I need to obey them. And because I find God here, in the wrestle of syntax and the brilliant moment of finding out what I needed to hear from my own words written on the page. So, hello words. Hello, lovely wrestle. Mackenzie the Writer, Employee, Mom, Wife, Sci-Fi Reader, Student, is here to play.

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