Jo’s blog Mylestones was one of the first blogs I encountered in my meanderings 9 months ago when I first started blogging. I was drawn to her immediately, not only because she lives in Maine – envy! – but also because of her unique voice and her enchanting photographs. I was instantly smitten. Jo just seemed like someone I’d want to be friends with, had 1,500 miles not separated us. I wanted to pour a cup of coffee, set out a plate of scones and chat with her all day. When you visit Mylestones, I’m sure you’ll feel the same.
Jo writes at Mylestones, where you’ll find her attempts to navigate the wild ride and chart the memorable moments of life with her family in Maine. Married to her high school sweetheart, this mother of two (ages 5 and 3) dislikes writing about herself in the third person, and especially despises writing bios. She is a recovering corporate hamster wheeler, a naptime freelancer, a sometimes runner, and a frequent recipe-butcherer. And, with a move to the Midwest in her near future, she is fast becoming a cardboard and bubble wrap connoisseur.
Here’s Jo on writing and faith…
I read about him again today, this father to a demon-wrecked boy. He said it first, before the words became mine, before I began mouthing them day after day until I forgot where it was I first heard them. They are as much mine now as they were ever his:
Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief. Help my unbelief.
For that man, who lived a father’s nightmare, the opposite of belief was despair. If not Jesus, if not this very last hope, then who? Then what? His boy might die at the hands of demons.
But me? I have long lived with the luxury of unbelief, under a solid roof that shelters drawers of clothing to rival the lilies. I ignored Him during long stretches of my dark-to-dark career, putting Him off until after the merger, the IPO or the annual reviews. I turned to a weekly church service to temper the guilt, to beg for mercy without repentance. I sang with a heart that wanted to be whole but wasn’t. I tuned in and out of the sermon, making lists on my bulletin.
For months at a time, it might have been the only heartfelt prayer I prayed.
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
And then came despair, showing up in my own story. If this Gospel wasn’t true, not true enough to change my life, then the grief, the suffering meant nothing.
When again it became my prayer, now choked with urgency and heartbreak, I asked because I couldn’t fathom the alternative. If not Jesus, then who? Then what?
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
Six years have passed since I whispered that prayer, at the end of myself. Shortly after, I began to write again. For seven years prior, I had written nothing but memos and business copy, barely a word in my journal, rarely a prayer or a quote or a thought.
I attributed my abstinence from the pen to lack of time. But it was more than that. I avoided the one habit that forced me to dig deeper, the discipline that pressed me to admit the truth to myself. And in those laconic years, the truth was my heart was hard with unbelief, even as my lips spoke eloquently of faith.
As I began to write, I began again to pray–beyond the request for faith. I became freshly aware of my desperate need to be rescued, to be healed, to be made whole. I became reacquainted with the God who could meet each need.
Madeline L’Engle writes in Walking on Water:
Wounds. By his wounds we are healed. But they are our wounds, too; and until we have been healed we do not know what wholeness is. The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort toward wholeness.
Writing, for me, is an effort toward wholeness. It is the discipline of talking myself into truth. It is the process by which I find my faith strengthened, by which I pour out my heart and gather it up again with greater courage.
When I lend words to my doubt and fear, I see how flat they read compared to His truth. Even as I articulate my own story, I see His redemptive pattern taking shape, turning despair into hope, unbelief into faith. And I find myself now, on more days than not, able to write and to whisper in truth, simply: Lord, I believe.
Tune in next Thursday for another great voice in the Writing and Faith series.