Cleaning Up

“We are still friends, right?”

I chuckled at the comment my friend and wonderful proof-reader put at the end of her rather long list of mistakes in my manuscript. She has read my work before, but always after it had been readied for publication. This time she was seeing all the flaws and errors and she was a little shy about pointing them out, fearful that I might react in a negative way. I assured her that we were indeed still friends and I was delighted that she was picking up on things I’d missed. Humbled, once again, but delighted.

In writing, we often don’t see the mistakes we make because we’re too close to the work. We see and read what we think is there, what we know should be there. Our pride tells us the work is perfect, but we all make mistakes and it’s important to find them before submitting a manuscript to an editor who might not be as forgiving as a friend. It’s a humbling part of the process to which all writers must submit, if they are to find success in the publishing world. And there is a mighty purpose in it. We clean up our manuscripts so that our readers will not say, “oh look what a wonderfully clean piece of writing this is,” but so they will see beyond the words, taking no notice of the perfect grammar but grasping the stories of grace and mercy, hope and love that we are trying to convey, and perhaps say, “maybe that kind of thing is available to me too.” Their blessing is our goal.

We all make mistakes in life, too, and it’s important that we be willing to acknowledge them as well. It’s humbling but necessary work, to say “I’m sorry,” or “forgive me.” It’s humbling but necessary work to see our sin and make the changes God asks of us. And there is a mighty purpose in it. We aren’t cleaning up our lives to present them blameless and spotless to a demanding God. We are cleaning up our lives so His light can shine through us and be seen by those around us. We are making the changes so others might see and wonder if such grace and mercy, hope and love are available to them, too. Their blessing is our goal.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011. A collection of devotionals for writers has just been released here. Visit Marcia’s website