"Your stories, they are a gift. They were given only to you. You are the only one who could have experienced them the way that you did. You are the only one who can tell them the way you do. They were a gift, and it is your obligation to offer that back, to do what you can do with it and offer it back to the Lord." These aren't the exact words of a friend of mine, but this is how I remember a conversation with a fellow writer several weeks ago.
These words have rolled around in the gapingly open, empty void inside my head ever since.
These are my stories. I don't just have the option of telling them. I have an obligation. I do believe that to be true. That's how it feels to me, anyway. It also helps explain the power I feel when I do just that, when I record my experiences in writing, when I step back, out of the way, and let God take over.
Tonight I learned at Bible study something I already knew, but I connected to it in a whole new way. Christians often quote the part of the Scripture that says, "Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice." OK, I know that and try to do it. And I find myself getting all puffed up when I do it, feeling proud, feeling blessed and holy. But I think the most important part is next: "For this is your reasonable act of service." Oh. It's not going above and beyond. When I operate under the power of the gifts He has given me, when I am simply doing what I am good at, when I am using my abilities, both the ones that come naturally and the ones that I've worked hard to develop - I'm only doing what I'm supposed to do. I'm not making God proud of me. I'm not earn brownie points. No, I'm just doing my duty. It's no more impressive than a child not throwing their juice boxes on the floor. (Although in my household, that is something that would be impressive.)
So I'm putting these two ideas together, and this year for Christmas, Lord, I am giving you an offering. I am going to use what you have given me, the stories of my life, of my faith, and write them to give back to you. I don't care if anything comes from them. I don't care if there seems to be no purpose. I am simply going to move forward into the bare minimum category. By writing for you every day, maybe, hopefully, I will advance out of the bare minimum category into something more. But right now, I'm not even doing what I'm supposed to do. I'm not cleaning my room, doing the dishes, or making my bed, so to speak. Bare minimums. And if I want to find more, I have to first step into that. So here I go, stepping forward in faith, using what you've given me, asking you to accept this humble offering.