A few weeks ago I retracted an entire article I had written about race. While it was authentic, raw, it felt naive and simplistic. I decided the world didn't need those words right now. And I needed more experience. I do not regret my decision. As writers, there are words best kept to ourselves. But let's be honest, any and all words have the potential to be misread.
I just took a tough email conversation to the phone because I feared we were both totally misreading each other. We were and it was a different set of words when we could hear tone, sorrow, and humor. Sometimes our words are too one-dimensional. They need texture that a screen or page cannot offer.
I have been putting many words to paper this last year and have started sharing with certain people. To be frank, I'm a little sick of my own verbage as I find myself quoting entire thoughts, sentences, and paragraphs in normal conversation. Out of my mouth, they do not just hang in mid-air. They are received and reacted to and gain substance in the process. Suddenly, misreading or disagreeing become live experience. We are dialoguing and it is adding texture to my writing.
It is also freaking me out.
The more women I talk to about their parenting, their relationship with their kid, or their own story, the more I fear writing words that are naive and simplistic. Does the world need these words? My list of what to cover, who to address, and caveats worth mentioning grows by the day. Who will I offend? Who will assume I can't relate? Who will feel this message is not for her?
Who do I think I am?
Aw, Emily Freeman. I return to her book, A Million Little Ways, frequently. Her words remind me:
When you finally show up, you will hear this question whisper dark words into your soul. When you are on the verge of discovery, on the edge of risk, when you're ready to take the next step toward influence- this question will come out of nowhere, asking who do you think you are?
Pay attention to what you're doing when you hear it. I bet you one million dollars you aren't watching TV. We have an enemy who wouldn't bother to threaten you if you weren't dangerous. So the question who do you think you are? only comes on the cusp of risk.
When have I heard those "foul six words" creep into my soul? When I'm with women. Talking about our journeys, wrestling with parenting. Wondering about obstacles to intentionality. Considering alternative ideas. All conversations aimed at fully offering themselves and calling their children to do the same. I've heard those words when I've been on the edge of risk.
My greatest fear should not be writing words that might offend. My greatest fear should be not writing words.
What about you? When do you hear those words most? Be encouraged today that you are worth threatening. You are dangerous!