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How God Saved My Life Through Writing

December 31, 2008

Red Letter Believers Blog has called other Bloggers to a group writing project, asking us to write a post about how God has blessed us this past year. This was a good challenge, and it compelled me to pause and take stock of what has passed, to reflect briefly on what 2008 has meant to me.  I’ll warn you – this post is self indulgent and confessional. It is probably very boring to everyone but me. But, what the hay. Here it is.

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2008 has been an exceptionally significant year. Not just because of business accomplishments, or world events, or the milestones I shared with my family, although there were certainly standouts in each of those. No, this year will go down in my personal history book as the year I started writing. I had no idea how it would change my life. 

I’ve always enjoyed writing, although I admit I am not the most eloquent or poetic. But the love of creative expression through words has always been with me. As a boy I made up mystery and adventure stories using my dad’s typewriter. I spent a great deal of time with creative writing in high school. Then, throughout my career as a management consultant I put my heart and soul into writing many a memo and business report. I even had a crack at a business book once.

I also kept an ongoing habit of journaling, venting to God about my daily fears, insecurities, dreams and hopes. I often wondered how people might react when they found these rambling journals after I died. I imagined someone with a keen eye, perhaps a literary agent who befriended my wife a few weeks before I passed, would be rummaging through crates of my belongings. She picks out a dusty leather-bound hand-written tome, and as the rays of the late afternoon sun slant in through the attic window, she reads a few pages. “My goodness!” She cries out. “We had no idea! He was brilliant! So spiritually haunted… yet so witty, too! Quick – call Zondervan! We can’t let another day pass without the world seeing the work of Bradley J Moore!”

I had quite an imagination.

So writing had been there all along, in one form or another. Then, last year I turned forty seven and found myself in a bit of a stink facing the convergence of middle-age, a career crisis and a vague spiritual malaise. Thank God, He sent a mentor and friend who challenged me to do something, anything that would take the focus off of my career and back on to my spiritual life (I wrote about this in my post “The Purpose of Work“). “Okay,” I said. “I’ll write about my faith. Ten minutes a day, but that’s it.” The only rule was that I would not have any rules. I would not censor, I would not let the inner Evangelical Preacher Voice cluck his tongue and shake his head in disapproval over my thoughts, dictating what I could and could not say. No one was going to read it, except God, so I let it rip.

At first it was a jumble of free-association therapy as I struggled to reconcile my childhood faith with the reality of my grown-up life. I wrote directly to God about all the cynical, heretical thoughts I was having – my disillusionment with Evangelical Christianity, my newfound skepticism of the bible, my feelings of burnout and angst over my current career. I came to terms with the fact that I was no longer the starry-eyed, evangelizing, “on-fire-for-God” passionate young Christian man with a naïve and sheltered view of the world. You see, I had always been the Good Boy. The exemplary Christian. The bible study leader. But I grew up some in the last twenty-five years, and got plenty beat up along the way. Now I wanted to shock God by hurling doubt and sarcasm. But God wasn’t shocked. God handled it just fine. I think He actually liked the fact that I was talking to Him in a more intimate way, being brutally honest. No, there was something else happening on another level. It wasn’t about God. I was shaking up all these cloaked figures that lived in my head – the ones who shaped my theology from the past: all those pastors who were so certain about the way God works; my fundamentalist parents; my old friends who went on to become Evangelical pastors; the old, naive version of me – the me who was so self-righteous, pious and judgmental all those years. The me who considered going to seminary and becoming a missionary as a young man, but backed out. The me who considered himself such a strong and dedicated Christian, but was too weak and scared to face the world after college.  That’s who I was writing to. I wanted to show him how full of crap he was all those years.

Ten minutes a day stretched into several hours a week, as I slipped into writing mode every spare chance I could get. I couldn’t get all the words out fast enough. I wrote furiously about my past, my career, the church, my family, my purpose, the circuitous route that my life had taken. It reminded my of the old saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Nothing was sacred. I allowed cursing, uncertainty, doubt, and I ultimately faced my own emptiness. But what’s nice about it – and what’s miraculous – is that although the writing was bleak and cynical at first, slowly, over time, God’s presence kept nudging me. Through the writing, He was inching me back from the darkness, drawing me towards His unchanging love and constancy. The writing brought me full circle to eventually acknowledge that God’s presence and grace was there all the time, through everything. Even the fact that I was writing now, how it came about through my friend’s encouragement, was God’s way of not so subtly reaching out to me.

I laughed, I got mad. I was cynical and mean. I got goose bumps. I was utterly honest and completely myself.  Then I wrote an ending, and it was done.  All of this happened between January and April of 2008.

I printed the whole thing out, gave it a title, and started reading it, like I had just been given a gift. Except that this really was a gift, from God. I wrote a book to myself, dedicated to me, with God as my editor. It was the very book I needed to read at this particular point in my life. The book that would help me get through a tough transition point as a middle aged career and family man who was just trying to make sense of his place in this world, as a Christian, after all these years.

How many other people can say that God had custom-designed a book written just for them?

By the way, I feel much better now. I’m more at peace with God. But as you know, I didn’t stop writing. I had to keep going. So I started the Shrinking the Camel Blog in July, and it, too, has brought me much joy and satisfaction. Some of my Blog postings were taken from that Book to Myself. I’ve put bits and pieces together, changed it up, and it’s been good fodder.  You probably picked up by now that some of the old cynical tone has carried through to the Blog. I do have an edge sometimes, but God’s grace is woven in there too.

Blogging has opened up an entirely new world for me, and for that I am extremely grateful. Writing every week helps me track my spiritual life, forcing me to put in concrete words how God is moving in my life, even when I am screwing up, even when I am frustrated. That’s how life goes. I am so thankful for the new friends and the other Bloggers who I have met, who are part of this new community, and the people who read and comment on mine. You all have challenged and inspired me.

I think that’s why we all write Blogs. We lovingly craft these little stories and thoughts, and – surprise! Someone else actually reads it. There is something about getting feedback, just knowing someone has heard and acknowledged your words. It reminds us of our humanity, and of our spirituality, and that we’re all in this ridiculous imperfect mess together. And maybe, just maybe, you can have an impact on someone else’s life. Even if it’s small or momentary, that’s something.

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One Blogger recently wrote a review of one of my posts, describing it as “droll.” Believe it or not, I wasn’t sure what that word meant, thinking it was a put-down of some sort. I looked up that word, Droll, in the dictionary.  It means “having a humorous, whimsical, or odd quality.”

Well. That’s just what I was going for. That’s how I write. That’s how it comes out. I would have called my work snarky, actually. But droll will do.

 

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2008 1:51 pm

    Bradley

    Thanks for diving in on this project.
    I’ll link to this post tomorrow.

    David

  2. December 31, 2008 3:37 pm

    i very much enjoyed reading this.
    thank you for writing.

    🙂

  3. January 2, 2009 3:17 pm

    i’m glad you’re writing.

  4. January 3, 2009 4:37 pm

    I appreciate the process you explained having gone through January through April, and the fact that you continue to blog. For me, blogging has become just what you talk about – talking to God intimately, but there as an open book for others to take a look at should they desire.

    I shall return here. Be blessed as you blog.

  5. donkimrey permalink
    January 4, 2009 6:51 pm

    Sounds as if we’ve had some similar experiences. I read the blog above and felt a kinship with you. In somewhat similar circum-stances, I began scripturestudent@wordpress.com. I’d really appreciate your checking in on occasion to help me stay “on track.” God bless you in your work. ~donkimrey

  6. January 10, 2009 2:08 pm

    Writing does that.
    Changes things up.

    Nouwen wrote:
    “What I am gradually discovering is that in the writing I come in touch with the Spirit of God.”

    Maybe the writing changes primarily because of that: in it we touch God.

    So you have.

    Blessings, Brad — and congratulations on Princeton!
    All’s grace,
    Ann

  7. January 11, 2009 6:11 pm

    Ten minutes a day … and now a book!!! But where oh where may I purchase THE BOOK? I love reading your blog and you have a book I haven’t seen where to purchase before today!

    Oh, yes, you are the writer. There are many books and they will be fun and between the laughs God will use you to show us deep and wonderful truths.

    Will that be credit card or paypal?

  8. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    January 11, 2009 8:24 pm

    Thanks for all your kind comments!

    Kay – I am flattered that you would actually buy a book of mine, but unfortunately that one doesn’t exist quite yet. In this post I was referring to a private book I wrote that was only read by me. Maybe some day in the future…? Who knows.

    In the meantime, I’ll put it all out in the STC Blog for whoever cares to read it!

  9. January 4, 2010 6:59 pm

    So glad you dropped this link at Seedlings. It’s much better than my writing journey!

    Well, yours feels more like a journey. Mine generally feels like a resume. Maybe I’m still going to find the journey along the way. 🙂

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