So far in this creative journey, it feels like I finish writing a book right before my life completely and utterly changes. That the message therein, instead of opening up new vistas of flourishing, triggers something like a collapse or avalanche that buries everything for a good long while.
This, I suppose, is not super hard to believe, especially when one is writing the story of their own life. Because you can only tell that story based on what has happened up to the point of writing it; and it would kinda make sense that you are writing about what was on the very precipice of what’s to come.
That’s exactly what happened with my book The Light is Winning. I finished it, and my life radically changed. Hell, my life radically changed as I wrote it: No sooner had I thrust myself into the meat of the manuscript than my 6 year-old daughter contracted a life-threatening illness that cut my family’s plans off at the knees and began a process of upending all of my core perspectives.
Completing a book about the light that is winning in the midst of such an experience was excruciating in the most literal sense — it was a painful cross to bear. There were times of creative flow, but also times when it was just brutal to write about hope when I didn’t feel any, to project purpose when everything had become disintegrated and uncertain. As a writer you have to believe the message, and I did. Or at least I desperately wanted to.
But deep down I knew I was talking more about a perspective in the process of passing away than the one that was presently evolving.
In a way that timing — finishing books in 2012 and 2016, respectively — was providential. Life’s radical changing, for the worse before it would be for the better, was triggered by a literal closed chapter.
And as much as that closure was like dynamite on a Colorado mountainside, it was closure nonetheless.
Where I’ve been these last few years is in a whole lot of transition: first, digging out of the avalanche’s aftermath; and then finding some kind of footing in life’s very new and uncertain terrain. The total recovery of my firstborn was the firstfruits of a hope to come, but that hope has only now begun to materialize, to become real.
What I know is that I, and my little family, have been on a journey of radical freedom from a past of toxic faith and family systems. And that freedom feels like giving up on false hope and misguided faith, finally, fully, for the very first time.
Here’s another thing I know: that the writing and creative life I lead from hereon out will not be the bombastic bang before the fallout, but the continual, persevering ascent toward flourishing.
There will be challenges, disappointments, difficulty, sure: but with footing secure on the green-and-granite trail, and the freedom to finally pursue what is good and real, genuine flourishing is within reach.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.
I hope you’ll join me for the climb.