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What Matters Most

November 25, 2010

About ten years ago I established the discipline of keeping a journal. A couple of years later I set aside the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas to read through the entries of the previous year, and I’ve done that every year since. It can be disheartening when it seems like the struggles I wrote about last year are the same as the year before, and the year before that. But my journals have never failed to provide insight into the real me, the man God wants me to be.

If you’re a regular visitor to this blog you know that I quit my full time job last January to try my hand as a free agent, an independent contractor, a sole proprietor. For years I have longed to make a living as a writer, and that’s what I set out to do. The path has not been easy. Some days I feel like there is no path, like I’m using my pencil as a machete to slash my way through page after page of impenetrable undergrowth. I wonder, what if I can’t make it? What will other people think?

A year ago today the “other people” that concerned me most were my children, Xandra (18) and Philip (14). And on that day I was re-reading what I had written the year before. Here’s what my pencil uncovered:

What matters between today and years from now, when Xandra and Philip read these words, is this: Did their dad step out in faith? Did he respond to God’s call on his life? Did he use the gifts and talents bestowed upon him by his Creator to point others toward the Creator, the Author of Life?

If Xandra and Philip can look at the days of my life and answer “yes” to these questions, that is all that really matters. Whether or not I succeed in earning a living as a writer is a Second Thing. The First Thing — Was I a man of faith? — is of utmost importance.

But I surely do hope and pray that God grants me the second thing as well.  🙂

Over the next month I’ll read and reflect on the rest of the entries from this past year. No doubt they’ll give me a good read on my “faith guage.” Was it at the low point in September, when I felt so discouraged that I started looking for another J-O-B? Was it highest in March when I started this blog, confident that I had words of wisdom to offer the world? If faith is that mindset of leaning every aspect of my personality on God, in absolute trust and confidence, then I think maybe I should turn the two around. My faith is highest when I’m most dependent on God, and lowest when I’m most confident in my self.

How about you? What’s your year been like? If you’re not in the habit of “reflective writing” I encourage you to read Digging Out The Words, a Slice of Infinity essay by Jill Carattini. “There is something about writing that can introduce us to ourselves and to the One in whose image we are made,” she says. “Have you dared to utter the words at the center of your soul? What if God could use your own pen to probe the wounds of your life?”

It’s a great discipline to cultivate. When I’m not re-reading my entries from the past year, I turn to a passage from the Bible, aka the Word of God. That usually stimulates my thinking, and the pencil helps draw new words up from my subconscious. Give it a try. I would be honored if you would return to this page and let me know what happens.

May that Word richly dwell in us such that own words bring us to a richer knowledge of ourselves and our God.

~ from Digging Out The Words by Jill Carattini

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