Last night at our church we heard from one of my favorite writers. Shauna Niequist has authored two books: Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet. We were studying Mark 12 in the Bible and Shauna was speaking on the story of the widow that gave everything that she had to God; that famous widow that dug deep and didn’t hold anything back. Shauna said,
“At the heart of the story, I think, Jesus is telling us that it’s not about what you give. It’s about what you hold back. We give what’s easy, but we sometimes hold back the things that are hard to give, the things we think we need, the things we believe keep us safe and happy. But the widow gave everything she had, because she believed in God’s promise to meet all our needs.”
The question was posed, “what do you hold back?” It isn’t easy to trust, like the widow, and give it all. For me it seems to be a daily process and sometimes a minute by minute process of letting go. Along the way in this message Shauna wove her favorite quotes and talked about books that she was reading that discussed this question.
I loved this one from Annie Dillard and I think it fits with what we some of us are trying to work at doing our slices…
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all. Shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things will fill from behind, from beneath, like water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
Shauna’s books resemble our slices. If you are enjoying reading and writing them, I know that you will enjoy her books. She is a thirty-something writer. But I can say in all honesty that she holds nothing back and spends it all.
Shauna has an awesome blog that chronicles her writing life…you may be interested in checking it out.