I received an note not too long ago that was an exceptional glimpse into the thoughts of some of my readers. Just a few lines that accidentally ended up in my inbox. They weren't intended for me at all and, yet, there they were. They taught me so much. I consider that note a great blessing and I'm grateful for the insight.
Among other things, the woman who penned the note remarked that before an author published a book of small steps towards virtue she should be sure that she can do them or that she has done them already.
I promise you that I cannot do every step in my book on any given day. I can do all of them at one time or another. I can do most of them on the days for which they were written. But I will never hit them all just right. Not on this side of heaven.
And the book wasn't designed that way.
All the small steps in our book have been done by Danielle or by me at one time or another. None of the small steps in the book are done by both of us all the time. We falter. We stumble on this path towards heaven and sometimes we even fall. If I were to wait until I'd perfectly mastered all those virtues--all those steps--all the time, I'd never publish. And if I had to be absolutely certain when I ponder an idea here that I can perfectly master it--or even that I should--this screen would be mostly blank.
Instead, I think aloud about peaceful, happy, holy family life and I wonder with you how to step heavenward.
That takes courage. It takes courage when I know that there are people who will take my own admission of my brokenness and use it to tear me down further. It takes courage to tell you that I am a mess and to trust that you won't despise me for it. And it takes courage to keep writing even in the face of some people who do exactly that. It takes courage to send the words of my heart out into the world. I am not, by nature, courageous. I pray daily for courage.
We wrote Small Steps to encourage. That was our primary goal. We had seen the fierce competition and unfavorable comparisons among women and we genuinely desired to come alongside and walk together towards a common goal. A goal of peaceful, happy, holy women.
So, we looked towards the saints, those holy men and women who have gone before us. And we were grateful that they wrote, despite their doubts and struggles and imperfections. They shared their brokenness; they wondered aloud. They left us with a treasure trove of wisdom. The church assures us that they did not struggle in vain. And she encourages us to dip into the font of their wisdom. So we did.
We also composed prayers. There is no greater privilege than to pray with you. When I open my book to any given day, I know that you might be praying that prayer, too. And Jesus tells me that when two or more of us are gathered in His name, He is there. There with us. Stepping beside us. In our midst. (Matthew 18:20)
And yes, there are action items. Little things that we know will add up to great strides over the course of the year, little steps that we know from our our experience to be valuable. Sometimes, we hit them all just right. Sometimes, as on the day about which the email was written, we stumble and fall. I wrote the words that I eventually read on that day. And I lived them as well as I possibly could--because I believed that step to be a valuable one. And then, I told you that I failed to meet the ideal. I told you so that if you failed on that day too, you would find comfort in not being alone. I told you so that you could pray for me as I dusted off and began again. And I told you so that I could also tell you that I persevered. That the next day was better. That yesterday was awesome. I told you so that I could encourage you. That was the whole point.
We encourage when we invite another woman into our home for a cup of tea and word of friendship, even though there might be stacks of folded laundry on the dining room table, even though the only cookies we have to offer were bought from the grocery's day-old table yesterday. It takes courage to admit we don't have it all together, all the time. We ask her in and invite her to share her heart, letting her see the sometimes ragged edges of our own. We encourage when we confide that we, too, struggle and yet we also claim the ultimate victory that is ours in Christ. We admit that we are sinners in need of a savior. And she feels welcome. She is not made to feel judged or reproved by some unattainable icon, but loved by a fellow saint on a journey. She will come again; she will invite you into the corners of her home, knowing that you will see her heart and not her shortcomings. Together, we will take small, but meaningful, steps
Genuine encouragement grants grace. Grace is our topic for May. Genuine encouragement is gentle. Gentleness is our topic for June.
I pray that we can continue to give support, confidence, and hope to one another, even though it makes us vulnerable. I pray for the courage to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thes 5:11).
Small Steps focuses on courage this month. Would you share your thoughts with us, let us find you and walk with you? I'd be so grateful and so honored to have you as a companion. Please leave a link to your blog post below and then send your readers back here to see what others have said.You're welcome to post the Small Steps Together banner button also.