Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writing in Pencil

Last year, my roommate Bethany let me read this book she had that was written by Shauna Niequist, a lady she knew, called "Cold Tangerines".  There was one specific chapter she wanted me to read and I'll never forget it.  The chapter was called "Writing in Pencil". 

This chapter talked about how too often we write out the plans for our lives in Sharpie instead of pencil.  How we need to leave room for God to change our plans once in a while and write plans in pencil, freeing ourselves to allow our own dreams and plans to be erased and rewritten by the Author of our life. 

The chapter starts out,
"I just turned thirty, and I'm finally willing to admit something about life, or at least about my life, and it's this: I should have written in pencil.  I should have viewed the trajectory of my life as a mystery or an unknown.  I should have planned lightly, hypothetically, and should have used words like ‘maybe and possibly.  Instead every chance I got, I wrote in stone and Sharpie.  I stood on my future, on what I knew, on the certainty of what life would hold for me as though it were a rock."

Right now my life seems a little like I'm in limbo.  I often feel like I'm just waiting for the next step: waiting to get married, waiting to have a place to live, waiting to get a 'real' job.  But I always want concrete and permanent, not interim. 

One part of this chapter states, "Everything is interim.  Every season that I thought was stable and would be just how it was for a long time ended up being a preparation or path to the next thing.  When you decide to be on this journey with God, everything is interim."

How true that is!  I'm never going to reach permanent.  To reach permanent would be to become stagnant.  I always have to be open to the next step, to the next phase in life that God is going to bring.   

The author says, "I’m learning to just keep moving, keep walking, keep taking teeny tiny steps.  And it's in those teeny tiny steps and moments that I become, actually, who I am.  We won’t arrive.  But we can become.  And that’s the most hopeful thing I can think of."

I want to become the woman of God who follows His will without question, without fear.  Isn't it freeing to think that we will never really "arrive" in this life?  I don't have to keep waiting for permanent to arrive, because it never will. 

I think that Shauna said it well, "There is a loosey-goosey feeling to the future now, both a slight edge of anxiety, like anything can happen, and a slight bubble of hope and freedom that, well, anything can happen."

So as Jeremy is sending out resumes to find a job, and as I find myself worrying that I don't know where we'll be or what we'll be doing in six months...I pray that I will bring it to the Lord and give my plans and my dreams back to Him.  With that anxiety also does come a sense of excitement that God could send us anywhere to do anything- and we're just waiting to discover where and what it is. 

Elisabeth Elliot once said, "Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts"

I'm trying to write in pencil- and lifting my heart to God about all the uncertainties while embracing the freedom of not having our plans written in Sharpie.   

The Lettered Cottage


  1. Thanks for this great post, Cortney! (I love that book too, btw.) I remember being exactly where you're at when Tad was sending out resumes and I had no clue where we were going to end up! It's scary at times, but also exciting. I'll be praying for God's perfect peace and direction for you two right now!

    Oh, I mentioned your blog on my blog today. :)

  2. Thanks Aliesha, we appreciate the prayers! It is hard at times, but it is teaching me to trust in the Lord even more. Thanks again for mentioning me on your blog- you're too sweet!

  3. Thanks for sharing such nice thoughts.


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