A woman is making a heart with sparklers as the evening sky darkens behind her

Fire, Dreams, and All the Reasons for Not Holding Back

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I was supposed to write a book in 2018.

And in 2017.

And in 2015.

Because in 2013, the idea sparked and the dream continued burning.

It’s 2019.

Everything in me wants to delete the confession above, but it’s necessary I share it, because the shame is holding me back.

Writing is easy for me, but sharing isn’t so easy. I’ve got real world experience with sharing that resulted in blank stares, being interrupted mid-sentence, being questioned, having my thoughts misinterpreted as feelings, or maybe the worst of all, being told what to do and how to do it, even though I never asked.

I carried all this experience to the keyboard, uninvited and unchecked. I questioned if what I had to say had any value, let my perceived inadequacies weigh me down, and my typical writing posture became tense shoulders and tightened intestines, at which point, there was little chance I’d squeeze out a paragraph, much less a book. Things got complicated.

When things get complicated, I pray and keep on. It’s a good practice and I recommend it. When things get more complicated and I realize I’m getting in my own way, I ask myself an important question: “Michelle, is this working for you?” This too is good, so long as I answer truthfully, which doesn’t always happen right away. I usually pump out rainbow answers of hope and good efforts for a while, deciding on stronger, faster, and smarter because tomorrow might surprise me, and then off I go in a frenzied gallop. I call this mindset ‘striving’.

I’m going to shatter your whole world for a minute. Diligence is honorable. Obedience is fulfilling. Faithfulness is beautiful. Endurance is inspiring. Striving is none of those things. Striving has unchecked insecurities and unchecked motives, resulting in a feverish chase for all the wrong reasons. Striving is an exhausting list of ‘supposed to’, and on my own personal timeline there are several periods of striving, every one of them ending with me taking a flying leap down a rabbit hole.

And when I find myself in a rabbit hole, finally willing to admit things aren’t working for me, I do what I did in 2013, 2015, 2017, and countless years before that – I get a job or I get a new hobby.

So as 2018 wrapped up, I got a job. Actually, I prayed for a job that would light me up and delight me, and within a few days, the Lord brought me a job that feels nothing like work, just as I’d asked. Ironically, most of my responsibilities are writing. ‘I’m using all those years of practice,’ I told myself. Then I did what I do when I’m tidying things up, and I gave the burning in my bones the ol’ brush off and assured myself writing was a useful season and maybe I’d do it again sometime, but for now, I was fine.

I was a liar, liar, bones on fire.

I experience life in thoughts, so when feelings intersect, I have to sense my way through it. More often than not, I dream. I dreamt I was sharing my heart when a girl next to me started talking over me. I did what I usually do – I leaned back, shut up, and thought what I usually think, ‘This is why I don’t do this.’ A girl across from me held up her hand to the noisy one next to me, looked at me and asked, ‘Did you get to finish?’ I raised an eyebrow and woke up, breathing fast and choppy.

I told my husband about the dream and asked what he thought. He said, “I think you better answer the girl in your dream.”

I think he’s right.

I made a list of all my reasons for writing a book, all my sad little reasons for striving. I’m not proud of what’s on there, but I’m thankful I finally dug them up and exposed them. Whether job, dream, or hobby, I can’t be faithful if I can’t be honest first.

Truth is, it’s not writing a book that burns in my bones. It’s His Truth and all the ways it’s changing me from the inside. It’s His Word burning in my heart and mind, refining me. It’s that urge to share real life in this space right here, because it strengthens me and encourages you.

So, no. I’m not finished. I’m not finished sharing, complicated as it is sometimes. I’m not finished sensing my way out of or through thoughts or feelings, whatever the case may be. I’m not finished learning to fling off insecurities and keep self-doubt in check, either. But I’m finished choking on fire.

I suspect both those girls in my dream are me. My mind is the one who can’t shut up, my heart is the one giving me permission to speak – and I’m the only one who can decide if I’m going to hold back.

I’ve decided I’m not holding back.

One More Truth is for anyone and everyone. If you find it useful, share it!

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  1. I have so many thoughts on this and yet too much in my head to just pick one.

    Love your post as always. Love your writing whether it be on here or in a book I will read it.

    I know that there will be so many people who will benefit and be blessed with a book from you, but mostly I know that YOU will get the most out of it, and that might be scary.

    I pray that no matter how your story comes out by book, blog, essays or verbally that you continue to share, however God needs you too.


  2. Truth is what we always need … it sets us free!

    What makes your writing so valuable is that you are sharing yourself.

    I did not miss the picture at the intro. Keep your heart in everything you do. Speak that TRUTH in LOVE as always. It is invaluable. You are invaluable.

    Your life story, lessons, experience are needed as we all walk the journey, encouraging one another that the goal is worth it.

    May your striving not just be sweat, but sweet!

    1. Dad, thank you for this encouragement – it’s pure fuel. Letting the heart filter the input is a strange relearning…but I’m getting there. One more truth means one more freedom and I can keep going for that promise!


      (And how about that picture?!)

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