Like runners headed for the finish line, my coauthor and I enter the final sprint of editing our book: The Life of the Body: Physical Well Being and Spiritual Formation. Six months from now, the words being typed on my computer will show up on a shelf in your local bookstore. The marketing and sales folks over at InterVarsity Press are moving up from behind the scenes now, getting ready to launch and celebrate the results of this adventure in words.
The reality of editing this book is about refining my jumble of words into something that actually says what I meant to say. In the course of writing, writing, writing, I’ve read, read, read my own words, and those of my co-author. I’ve edited my words. I’ve rearranged paragraphs. Together my coauthor and I revised and revisited our document over and over and over again before we ever sent it on to the publishing house.
Yet even that’s not enough to move my written words from intention to publication. The manuscript itself, like a new baby at a family reunion, makes the rounds to be known and understood: author, co-author, editor, author, coauthor, copyeditor, proofreader, author, coauthor. Into the mix, possible endorsers and a few select friends and family greet the new book, catching a first glimpse of what is within the covers of this future publication. Affirmation and congratulations are coupled with suggestions and questions for additional corrections. Typos are pointed out, subject-verb agreements begin to line up, and sentence structures in need of some serious realignment are straightened up. Editing invites me to reexamine what in the world I was trying to say in the first place.
Editing a book, however, is about far more than rearranging words on a page. Editing a book edits me. I pace myself, here in the middle of the romp of writing to hone my voice so I can offer it forth. Do my words speak my life? Does my life speak my words? Are there places I stumble and need strengthening? Are old injuries of heart or body preventing me from running fully present and fully forward? Do these words align with God’s heart?
It’s easy to pontificate about the wonders of this body that God has created. It’s fun to experiment, dialogue, and research about how food, the earth’s care, and exercise matter to my growth as Christ’s follower. It’s a delight to invite readers to join in the conversation at the junction of body and heart living.
The hard part of editing a book, however, is to also allow God to edit my life. I write a book. God writes then edits my life’s story. Sometimes, I’d like to delete some of His chapters and verses or some I’ve written when I could have let Him be the Author. Sometimes, I wax eloquently when Jesus is inviting me to stillness and quiet. Sometimes, I push forward when, instead, I need to linger, waiting on the Spirit’s signals for when to sprint ahead. In the end, I hope the words of my life say what God wants me to be.
Always, the Author and Giver of life is giving me another opportunity to become like the greatest Gift and Story, Jesus. Always, that’s going to require more editing on His part and more willingness on mine to be refined and redesigned.
Where are you noticing you are being edited today? What story is God up to in and for you in the editing?
© Lane Arnold