Nothing less than everything

I gave everything I had to the first two drafts of my book. And now, I must give more. This has shattered me. Because it is true. I must give more.

And yet, giving more is not what I thought it was. Giving more actually means letting go more. Loosening more. Freeing myself more. I'm still hanging on. I'm still second-guessing. I'm still afraid. I'm still writing in half-measures. The first draft was all fight and victory. The second draft was all victim and being acted upon. The third draft is a marriage between victor and victim. The third draft erases the dichotomies and allows all of it to co-exist together: the rage, the victory, the soulfulness, the sorrow, disappointment, the pain and joy.

The third draft requires nothing less than everything.

I am reminded that nothing less than everything is also what love is. A true, fully splendored love is not a love of half-measures. It is not only victor. It is not only conquest. Love is also a servant. Love is also gentleness, surrender, receiving, giving.

I went to bed for two straight days. I was depressed as hell. I tore down parts of my blog, slashed and wailed and screamed. I have been keeping back half my heart from you. And I don't want to give it because I know what will happen: rejection.

Yes, rejection. This is love's risk: rejection. That I will hand you my vulnerable, breakable heart and you will stamp it out on the ground. Or, maybe you'll accept it, but I'm still scared because: I HAVE REJECTED OTHERS' HEARTS.

Oh, God! I am part of this Internet culture that despises and mocks and finds fault and blames and accuses and is So Very Outraged. I am the chief of all rejecters!

I lay in bed and I wept for my sins. How did I come to this place? How did I come to be the arbiter of grace, the gatekeeper of grace, the decider of who and who should NOT be the recipient of grace?

I have come to this place because I have built a habit of self-righteousness, a habit of outrage that is, actually, a habit of cowardice. How many times have I taken the cheap shot? How many times have I engaged in the rank futility of online arguments? How many times have I exchanged the open-hearted grace of Christ for the quick thrill of Being Right?

This is my sin.

And it has shown up in my book. I am incapable of writing a book that is complex and poignant and transformative because I rely on HASTE. My writing instincts have been shaped by blogging. I know how to go for the gut appeal, the conversation-starter, the provocation.

But this does not work in books. At least, not in the kind of book I really need to write.

I must wean myself off the addiction to feedback, approval, going viral, punchy tweets. I must SLOW DOWN in order to really give.

I must give nothing less than everything.

I have all these fears: you will leave, you will forget me, you will walk away, I will become irrelevant, I will miss an opportunity, I will miss my deadline, people will not be reading books by the time mine is done (yes! I've actually thought that).

And then I look at these fears and see them for what they really are: egocentric. It's all about me. And all about MY career. And MY ideas of what it should be. And MY hopes to be like ___________(fill in the blank great writer).

I have to give up. Again. It's a daily thing, this giving up. This is what faith is. It is a giving up. A letting go of outcomes, of plans, of hopes and dreams. It is a letting go of haste and hurry and convenience. It is a letting go of thinking it was All Up To Me.

It is a letting go of thinking that I can just hammer this thing out and produce a brilliant manuscript because I AM A GIFTED WRITER.

I am a sprinter (bloggers usually are) but writing a book is a marathon. If I'm going to make the transition to truly writing a book I can be proud of, I have to let go of blogging. I really do. I'm not going to make any hard and fast rules, here. But blogging is short-form writing and what I'm trying to do right now is long-form writing.

Two drafts later I realize I SUCK AT LONG FORM.

But! There is hope! Because I've already reworked the first four chapters and I have to say: they are pretty kickass. My editor agrees.

If I can give nothing less than everything, then the book I will put into your hands will be a damn good book. I will serve you, the reader, by giving nothing less than everything.

I will serve you and I will risk giving you my broken, vulnerable, breakable heart.

Because that's what love is. Love gives nothing less than everything.

There is a price to pay. It's called letting go.

This is me.

Letting go.

This is me casting myself upon nothing less than the mercy of God.

kyrie eleison, christe eleison.

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