I failed the Write 31 Days challenge.

Write 31 Days month has come to an end. (Actually, it ended yesterday, but instead of writing I went grocery shopping alone.) Is it okay that I’m relieved? I scrolled through to count—surely I hit at least 20 out of 31 days—and realized that I only published 15 posts this month. This one is number 16. I shared the number with my husband in an admission of defeat, and his response, “So? Who cares?” made me laugh. No doubt God knew I needed someone like Dan to do life with. He’s been doing a 31-day challenge too, by the way—#inktober on Instagram, with a drawing a day. Maybe next year I’ll do that one instead; it seems less painful.

The old me and the new me are doing battle over whether 16 out of 31 is failure. Math says yes; old me says yes. But I’ll venture that there’s been much more to this practice than just the discipline of writing (or attempting to write) every day for 31 days. It was no coincidence that Lindsey mentioned the challenge to me or encouraged me to join in. This topic was no random thought that popped into my head. No, this one had Holy Spirit written all over it.

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My writing process is a combination of unearthing memories, ripping off band-aids, living those dreams where I’m standing in front of a crowd and realize I’m only half-dressed, having ideas come to me in the shower, trying to recall scripture from memory, being the last mom to pick up her kids from school because I just have to finish this thought!, crying, and hearing—no, seeing—God speak to me as my fingers move across the keyboard.

It’s not the prettiest thing. In fact, it’s messy and mentally and emotionally draining. So today, on November 1st, I feel wrung out, even though it’s “only” post number 16. But I also feel fuller and freer than I did at the beginning of the month. And wasn’t that the point of it all? I’m beginning to grasp my mission. I’m thinking more deeply about the choices I make each day. I’m seeing more clearly what kingdom-living can look like, and how I can be free to live it.

New me is here to say that 16 out of 31 is not failure. 

***

My church has been in a series on the book of Daniel for several weeks now (if you’re living in fear during this election season, go read it), and though we’re on chapter 9, there’s a verse in chapter 1 that keeps coming back to me. It says that while King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that the young men he selected were to eat only what he ate and drank, “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank” (verse 8).

He resolved. But it wasn’t about striving or earning. He just knew what God wanted him to do, so he did it. That’s what I call fierce determination. A done deal. No discussion, no pros and cons list, no “But what will people think?”, no hemming and hawing.

As someone who tends to run on the indecisive side, I find Daniel and his resolve inspiring. So coming out of this writing challenge and in light of all that the process has taught me about God and about myself, I’m resolving to do some things, too. I initially included them here in this post, but I’ve decided to keep them private. They all involve having and showing more trust, faith, humility, grace, and love—a heart shift that I want to be the motivation behind my actions.

I don’t feel like this is the end of examining the intersection of grace, freedom, and the rules, so don’t be surprised if I circle back around to these ideas again. But for now, I’ll close out October with a renewed love for the One who offers me grace upon grace and shows me what it means to be free.


Click here to see all posts from the Grace, Freedom, & the Rules series.

{This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge.} 

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