On Making Room

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak

A few weeks ago, I bought a desk. It’s nothing fancy, just four legs and a drawer that often gets stuck. But it fits in front of the window of our guestroom which means I get to look outside while I write to you.

I really love that.

I also get to shut the door. Which I also, really love. A writer I admire shared the importance of having a space to create in with a door. Because in some small way, we’re saying no to outside distractions and responsibilities (think unfolded laundry & dirty dishes in the sink) and saying yes to something else. Something our soul needs and longs for, something that helps us discover who we are.

And for me, something that makes God feel really close.

So this is where I’m writing most days. At a tiny desk by the window that overlooks the backyard. Or at a coffee shop when I worry I’m becoming a hermit and haven’t worn real clothes in a while.

When I told my husband I wanted a desk, he was open but skeptical. I brought it up after the rush of Christmas, so the idea of spending more money was less than desirable. And I have plenty of spaces to write. There’s the couch, kitchen table, and bar counter.

Annnnnd I'm not exactly a best-selling author (my words, not his) so is it really necessary for me to invest in a work space?

Yes. Yes it is.

Photo by Jay Mantri

Photo by Jay Mantri

Because I realized the way I was doing things wasn’t working anymore. Maybe you’ve felt the same? And when things aren’t working it’s time to listen and make a change. I’m not good at doing at this, I assume I just need to work harder. That the problem is me. And sometimes it is me. Sometimes it’s my own stubbornness or fear getting in the way.

But this time was different.

I felt frazzled and distracted. When I sat at the table, I couldn’t see you, the person I’m writing to. I only saw the things I should be doing. I was reminded of time, and how it always feels like it’s just slipping through my fingers. And I’d get so cranky at the end of the day when I’d look around and still see dishes piled high and no words on the page.

I was semi-productive, just not in my writing. I let exciting opportunities, investing in relationships, caring for our home, and taking care of people take center stage. Which are all good, important things. But there comes a time when we have to let something go. It could be as simple as turning off our phone and tucking it away or something much bigger, like saying no to a really good opportunity.

It was easy to do things other than write because those things felt like they added up to something. There was a clear input and output.

If I wash and put away the dishes, the kitchen will be clean.

If I spend more time with this person, we’ll grow closer.

Photo by Amelia Schmid

Photo by Amelia Schmid

Writing doesn’t always feel this way. Our offerings we put out into the world don’t always give us something right back. Some days there’s fruit and other days barren soil. Some days the words flow freely and other days we’re stuck in a hamster wheel, trying to decipher who we are and what we’re about.

Because answering that question gets me closer to figuring out who you are and what you’re about. I write to ease the pain and the loneliness we all feel sometimes. I write hoping you always feel invited, like a seat has been saved for you. And that no matter how long it’s been, you feel welcomed back with open arms. I write to find hope and light and beauty in the mundane. I write with the belief we are all connected and while our stories differ, so much of us is actually the same.

The unity of life among us is even deeper and stronger than the diversity between us.
— Henri Nouwen

We only have a certain amount of hours in a day. And if like me, you have lots of passions and interests and people you love, it can feel like we’re constantly fighting with time. Like we’re pushing up against it.

Rather than celebrating it. And being grateful for the way it limits us, the boundaries it places, the borders it offers.

We can’t do all the things really well, all of the time. Shouldn’t that free us a little? Shouldn’t that allow for grace and deep breaths and “job well done” because we’ve done the best we can with what we’ve got for today?

And tomorrow, we’ll begin again. It might not be finished or complete but it’s still good. It’s inching closer and closer to this thing we’re building. One tiny brick at a time. And we’re learning and growing in the discipline, in the committing, and in the refusing to give up.

Photo by Sergey Zolkin

Photo by Sergey Zolkin

So buying a desk was the next right step. I needed a nook to call my own. I needed a physical reminder that said, “Your work is important. Hush the critics (your own being the loudest) and do the work. Just start, right where you are with the little you have. And life will grow there. But you have to do the work.”

We can’t do all the things really well, all of the time. Shouldn’t that free us a little?

This little desk isn’t magic. It doesn’t offer me more time or confidence or clarity. It doesn’t make the fear of failure go away. It doesn’t make me suddenly feel adequate or equipped to be a writer. But it does offer validity and a place for me to do the tasks I’ve been called to in this season. It’s a seat that’s been saved for me. It’s reliable and it welcomes me back every time.

Do you have a place to create that’s all your own? Maybe a closet or chair by the window? Tell me about it! I'd love to know.