When it comes to writing, there seems to be a big, big pond of words and voices, and I sometimes find myself wanting to just stand on the shoreline. I don’t always know how to categorize myself. While I hit the occasional wit, I don’t always feel funny. I’m not doing crazy things with my life these days. I don’t have an angle or a soapbox. I don’t carry a heavy thought of theology on my shoulders like a backpack of knowledge and insight. I’m not crazy opinionated and in some things (*cough* most things), I’m still undecided.
I traveled to Africa years ago, before it was the in-thing to live blog it. Years ago, my home had an open door policy and we kept company with homeless and middle-class Americans, but it was before books were being written and I didn’t document any of it with tweets or status updates. When these things come up in the internet world these days, I feel like my voice is late to the party, or irrelevant now. I don’t know how to talk about it.
These days, I’m a single mom and a freelancer, and my days pretty much look all the same. I wake up at the same time, prepare school snacks, volunteer as a room parent, and I end my days reading Harry Potter or watching Mindy Kaling win America’s hearts.
In all this work of working on my book proposal with my agent, I have realized one thing. My voice doesn’t have a special, designated market, per se. I don’t appeal to a certain type, belief, theology, ideal. I feel like I bleed everywhere when I’m cut and I couldn’t tell you for certain which way it’s supposed to go.
When the Twitter and positioning wars begin, and writers and readers alike take up arms in theological dissent, I just close my laptop. When it comes to hot topics, I don’t know how to say what I believe without whipping out my sharp-tongue and lancing a few people, and last I was told, I’m supposed to keep my tongue under control because it’s steering my ship. So I just tell that baby to hush and sink deeper into the waters of Grace because I don’t know. I hash out my beliefs in small living rooms and sometimes with a beer in one hand, because I want to see faces and hear voices when we disagree.
But I love words. I have loved words since I was five years old and I realized I could take my thoughts into my fingers and scribble them out in forms and rhymes. I waxed poetic about Somalia and death, and poetry and fiction became the ocean I steered my ship through. The Psalms on tape put me to sleep at night, and I grew up repeating the entire first chapter of David’s poetry in a slow and steady cadence. Words have always been my companion. When I can’t say things with my mouth, I write them with ink. When I feel cornered, my words because my weapons and I dangerously cut close to the heart.
My story is my story, and my voice is my voice, but sometimes at night, when the world is quiet and the house creaks with settling, my voice becomes nothing but a breath into the darkness. How do I keep my voice when it seems I cannot find my niche, or rather, maybe I do not want to carve out a niche because I want to spill and sink with words, in every which way.
I live a mostly quiet life — keeping at work, raising my daughter, telling my story, learning through relationships that there are no easy answers, theology is complicated and Jesus is everything. I live a routine life — paying the bills, kissing and shaping the life of a five-year-old girl, investing in community and sleeping under feathered blankets at night.
I am learning how to love, but I screw it up a lot.
Words are not my launch pad to stardom. Words are my stars and in them I dive because without them, I’m just silence under these skies. Words are the light that breaks through my skin. They’re how I find the Gospel again, and I use them to tell what I know and what I don’t, and to light tiny candles here and there. So if I don’t speak up, stand out, or if I steer clear, it’s because I’m not trying to make myself out to be someone I’m not these days.
And well, honestly? That has to be ok right now.