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Editing Life: My Lessons in Humility and Change

Have you ever written something that required editing?

I’m not talking about the daily emails, or responses to messages that you want to get just right.

I’m talking about editing for something personal. Something that you’ve poured your time and talents; heart and soul into.

Something so important that it requires input from those above your pay grade and contributions from experts who aren’t afraid to share their knowledge in order to prevent grave error and help make your project the best it can be.

If you have ever experienced the need for such editing, then you’ll understand when I say it can be a challenging exercise in vulnerability and humility.

I’ve been working on such a project. That’s why it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here.

And, while the idea of this subject has been rolling around in my head for quite some time now, I haven’t had the margin to write about it. Not that I haven’t been writing. It’s just that the project I’m referring to has required aallll my words.

Actually, I've been working on this project for the past three and half years. And throughout that time, particularly in the last several months, I’ve learned a great deal.

Our project began as a way to help others learn, grow, and even heal, all while deepening a relationship with Christ. It involved a tremendous amount of study, trial and error, and research.

The goal?

To help people develop a healthy heart-brain connection. Ultimately, we wanted to offer to others a way to learn what we have been learning: that Faith and Science, collectively, give us a way to become more of who God has created us to be and experience life to the full.

And, just like anything I’ve ever hoped to do for others in the name of Jesus, the lessons He has taught me throughout this have left me humbled and grateful.

I hope it’s left me more of who God has created me to be and closer to living life to the full as He designed it as well.

With regard to the project, you probably noticed I’ve said “we” a lot. That’s because I’ve had the privilege of working on this project with two friends and colleagues who I’ve learned a great deal from over the years.

One, the author of the original text, an incredible researcher and psychologist. The other, a wonderful therapist; my co-author to the book that now serves a literal Guide to the original.

Along the way, we exposed our work to others. It was an exercise in trust, vulnerability and humility. We asked for feedback and constructive criticism.

Sometimes it was difficult to hear.

But we prayerfully considered the feedback and input, making changes along the way.

We had an incredible developmental editor, publisher, proofreader and art team who often told us things we didn’t want to hear, all while encouraging us at the same time.

And let’s not leave out all the challenging “internal” conversations between the three of us as authors.

We learned the importance of grace, humility and a teachable spirit.

But, as a result of it all, the project improved. Which makes sense.

Editing with the input of others who you know are “for you” is part of healthy development. Whether we’re talking about a project like our book, or life in general.

It gives us the chance to test our values, ideas and behaviors against what we say we believe and against God’s truth. And to make adjustments when things don’t align.

Seeking the counsel of others provides us the opportunity to “take our pulse”; to check and see if what we say has breathed life into us and what we seek to share with others is in line with God’s design.

I’d love to tell you that with each conversation about the book, I humbly and willingly accepted the opportunity to make changes and improve. But, much like in my own life, that simply wasn’t the case.

More times than I care to admit, I took feedback too personally; rationalizing why my way was better. At times I kicked against criticism of a perspective, belief or method I employed. I questioned the need to reorder, re-evaluate, reword and rewrite.

Sometimes, I dug my heels in, convinced my way was best. Until the wisdom (or experience) of another made it painfully clear that it wasn’t.

Yet, here in this place, on the other side of it all, I can say that I’m so grateful that I listened…eventually.

I’m blessed to say our project reflects each qualified, trustworthy, brave person who entered into the journey with us. With me.

I can’t help but see the entire experience as a metaphor for how God “edits” our lives. And sadly, a metaphor for how I respond at times to His intervening.

I’m not always quick to see or accept what God is trying to do in my life. Even when He does it through those I love and trust; those I know love me and are for me.

Sometimes I miss how He’s at work through them and through my circumstances. Especially the more difficult ones. (Difficult circumstances. Not people. Although, He has been known to use them too.)

But, if I remember that He is qualified and trustworthy, that He wrote the original text for my life, and that I’ll become more of who He’s made me to be if I let Him guide the journey, then I too get the gift of learning, growing and ultimately, healing.

And that is something worth passing along to others.

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