Earnest Hemingway said,"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
And that is why I made a New Year's Resolution to actively listen to only Christian music, all of 2014.
I, who have never made a single resolution since I was 19 years old. And I still don't believe in them, generally speaking.
I didn't make this decision because other kinds of music are wrong. I didn't make this decision because I think it is a spiritual thing to do. I didn't make this decision because I have a weakness for country music - even though I do.
I made the choice, because it will make me a better writer, and God has been calling me back to the typewriter, inviting me to bleed fresh, and bleed like never before.
See, last week I was tooling around my town in the Moxie Mobile - my little gold PT Cruiser, which I adore because it is 1940's reminiscent; I love that it sort of pegs me as a grandmother. I'm so cool with that.
My radio was tuned to the only decent Christian music station available - the syndicated KLOVE station. This fact was weird all by itself, since I am typically perpetually either tuned to my local country music station, or enjoying 1940's music on Pandora.
Suddenly, a certain song began to play. A song of failure and God and grace. The tears that sprang, unbidden and unwanted, reminded me of the reason I love country music: it is how I take a break from my own fervent intensity.
The song was lyrically rich and musically excellent...
...and the singer sounded almost exactly like my son.
And my heart yearns for my son to write those songs. I want him to sing like that again. He has it in him to write theologically and passionately. He has it in him to bring many, many to saving grace. He is called to be a Psalmist.
As a mother, my very nature intercedes for my children. I pray for them all like I breathe. Naturally. Easily. Constantly.
In that moment, my soul instantly stretched out, taut and vulnerable, to bridge the gap between my son and his calling; prayerful intercession and tears flowed abruptly - quick as thought and tender as a bruise.
My instinctive reaction was to....
...reach out and touch the country music button.
To escape my own intensity. To avoid the pain.
To not bleed.
Sweetly, God's voice halted fingers from changing channels. All at once, I knew that I have gained enough strength to lose some blood again - to feel this pain, yet not be destroyed by it, like I was back when my prodigals first began to squander their inheritance. All at once, I knew it was time to welcome a new leg of this journey...
...it is safe, now, to examine the aches. It is safe to explore the weakness of pain, and the way it makes me need salvation for my soul and new mercy with every sunrise.
It is now safe to bleed at the typewriter, so to speak.
Because I have this "all clear", I have consciously sealed all the exit doors I've typically used to run away, back when avoiding hurt was essential to healing (and initially, avoiding pain is very essential to healing).
And I will write hard, and I will write clear about what hurts.
And I will worship, leaning on my staff, favoring this hip put out of joint one very long night of my soul.
So that's why I am dialed in to Gospel music, and Gospel music only, not just for 30 days, but for all of 2014.
I want to be a better writer, and to do that, I have to feel joy, and I also have to linger with pain long enough to know how to speak healing words.
Sure, there is a lot of cheesy, low quality Christian music. My radio will annoy me from time to time this year. But there is a lotta-lotta cheesy, low quality country music (as well as rock, R&B, indie, etc.) and my radio has often annoyed me before now.
The only difference will be that my spirit will be forced into a continual posture of worship; my mind will be fed by words that turn my thoughts to things not of this earth; my heart will be challenged to feel again.
Join me, if you dare.
It won't be fun all the time. I will arrive at grocery stores and art supply stores and post offices in various states of emotional undone-ness, I am sure. And I hate that. You don't know how bad I hate that part.
His love makes it worth it. His love makes it worth it all.
Grace and Peace,
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