The Write Way Back


This is not me.  Which, if you know me, probably goes without saying since she’s wearing jewelry.  Stock photos prove helpful in a venture like this.

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself cleaning out some old keepsake boxes in my in-law’s garage.  They were boxes I didn’t know we’d kept, and certainly hadn’t missed much for the last 10 years, but as I sorted through all my old treasures, I realized two things:

  • Based on the stacks and stacks of journals and letters and old floppy disks labeled “IMPORTANT!  Carrie’s writing.” – I really loved to write.
  • I was awfully opinionated, obnoxious and judgmental in my high school and college years.  I’m sorry if you only knew me then.

Some of my earliest and happiest childhood memories are of 3-foot-tall stacks of books I’d read beside the heater (year-round) in my bedroom and curling up in bed with pen and paper… writing poetry, bad worship songs, and all my most heart-felt dreams and wishes, which I kept under lock and key in one of those bubblegum pink journals with cartoon flowers and hearts and a promise of complete secrecy with the flip of the little latch.

I grew out of a lot of things, including the bubblegum journal, but I didn’t grow out of writing…

For four years, I wrote through our life in China.  I shared highs, lows, and the Unbelieveable!Adventure!Of!It!All!  Those were in the Dark Ages – you know, the early days of Instagram and Twitter and social media dominance, so I wasn’t insta-famous.  But the blog was a big part of why we could stay in China, as it formed a community of people who supported us financially and emotionally through the connection forged on that blog.  I tried to keep it up a little when I first returned home, but in the throes of new motherhood, I felt like I had nothing interesting to say and my writing floundered.  Plus, what new, first-time mom feels like she has time to write?

Around the time we started Alea’s adoption, I agreed to write for No Hands But Ours about our adoption journey.  Through the long (though truthfully crazy short) months of our adoption and the even longer first months and years of learning to become a family, I shared as vulnerably as I knew how about the impossibly difficult journey of forging a new family out of the shards of her broken little life and our upended one.

And then came the months when I felt like I had nothing else left to say about adoption… and as I grew to love and know my daughter more and more, I found myself growing more fiercely protective of all the intimate details of her life and journey.  And since I didn’t know exactly how to say all that I felt while respecting her privacy, I ended up saying nothing at all… and I slowly stopped making regular contributions.

Two years ago, I started working at our church, and once a week since then, I’ve sent out an email to a loyal prayer group committed to praying for vulnerable children wherever they may be — brothels, refugee camps, emergency shelters, the high school across the street — in whatever circumstances they may find themselves in — the midst of war, being traded like property, sneaking across borders, coming home to an empty house.  Sometimes it’s a list of pertinent news stories and sometimes it’s a mini devotional… more often a mixture of both.

I have started and stopped many things in my life.

Namely, exercise.  On multiple occasions.  And I can’t say I miss it.

But I’ve never stopped feeling the need to write.

And if I’m being really honest, over the last few months, I’ve felt more and more like this drum is beating in my chest.  Write, write, write.  When I’m washing the dishes, I hear it.  Write, write, write.  When I’m looking out the window at the stoplight and see the man whose posture sitting behind the wheel in the car seems to seep loneliness, I hear it.  Write, write, write.  When I hear about tragedies and triumphs; joys and sorrows; a particular tune on the radio, the drum grows stronger.  Write, write, write.  

It keeps getting louder.  And I know (have known, actually, for at least a year) I need to stop shoving writing into the periphery of my life.  (There’s another Big Reason it keeps getting shoved.)  So here’s my new plan.  I’m going to start showing up in this space more regularly.  I’m going to post some of my favorites I’ve written over the last few years that have been flung out to different sites and I may forget about otherwise.  I’m going to probably copy and paste some old Facebook posts that may otherwise be lost forever.  I’m going to make time to write new material.  If for no other reason, I like to think that someday my children may appreciate a journal like this.

But if I’m being honest, words hold such power in my life.  They have pulled me from the darkest places and made me feel less alone.  They have connected me to others walking through the same sorts of things… or through different things entirely, but with the same heart.  They help me make sense of this crazy world and my place in it… and sometimes, ever so often, I get the blessing of finding out they helped someone else do the same.

Words take me to the heart of God… sometimes I feel lost and flailing and uncertain about the way forward.  And in those moments, the sanest thing I know to do is write my way back to the heart of the Father who loves me always, pulls me close, and never leaves my side.  Words help me find my way back to Him.  And if there’s no other reason at all, that’s reason enough to write.

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