On Maundy Thursday—the day before we learned we were pregnant with twins—Doug and I went to the evening service at our church.
Our pastor began his meditation by mentioning that the word Maundy comes from the Latin mandate. Though you pronounce it like it’s Spanish—mon-DAH-tay—when you see it written you realize right away what it means: mandate, law, command.
The command to which this word refers is from Jesus’ words to the disciples at the Last Supper:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (John 13:34)
Jesus’ love was wide and long and deep. His love took Him to the cross and the grave and the pit of hell.
His love was costly.
And it came to me, as clearly as if the words had been spoken aloud, that the “one another” whom I am supposed to love in this costly way are my children. I knew, too, that the cost for me would be my fledgling writing career.
The next day we found out about the twins, and I realized my Maundy Thursday revelations were meant to prepare me.
A few days later, my writer friend Lynne emailed me and her words confirmed what I already knew: she said she knew having two more babies was going to be hard for me because it would mean I could not write as much as I would like to.
I emailed back: “Letting go of my dream of writing another book, of finding an agent for my novel, of being a multi-published author is my little cross to bear, my act of self-sacrificing love. I know you will understand and not think me melodramatic for calling not being able to write a cross to bear. It’s a small cross, I know, but it’s hard for me.”
She responded, “Writing is who you are, Kimberlee. I think not writing very much will be more than a little cross to bear. I think it will be a pretty big cross.”
Her words were like water, easing the guilt I felt for not wanting to let go of these words, these dreams I carry. I drank them down.
Over the weeks of Easter I have struggled to let go of what I want—to find an agent for my novel, to write another novel, to have a career as a writer. Now.
Never mind that I daily run out of energy long before the day runs out of hours, that my brain is a sieve, that I am sometimes so tired I can’t string six words together to form a coherent sentence—I still struggle to hold my dreams lightly, let alone surrender them for a time.
On Sunday at church, our children’s minister, Dianne, found me. “Oh, Kimberlee,” she said, “I was reading something this week, and I thought of you. The author was talking about vocation and how sometimes people have two vocations that seem to conflict with each other, like they’re working at cross-purposes. But he said that eventually those two vocations would flow together, and both vocations would be stronger because of the other one.
“And I thought of you, and I know it’s hard that you’re not writing much right now, but I just knew—I know—that your mothering will make you a better writer better, and your writing will make you a better mom. So hang in there. They’re going to come together.”
I carried those words in my heart all day. They gave me hope.
And I realized: that’s one of the main reasons I write—to give myself and others hope. That is the gift of good words.