I placed one foot in front of the other, grateful the library staircase was long. Each step was a crossing over from everyday life of a nursing baby and school drop-offs and work emails into a few hours of writing. Once inside, my feet took me on autopilot to my spot on the second floor, the window that looked across the commons onto the chapel with the cross.
But first I had to walk between bookshelves.
Rows of books written by people who believed enough in the topics at hand that they gave hours of life to pound out the words. It was a repeated daily passage into the physical, emotional and spiritual space of writing down my story. I walked through the aisles, past the authors who had gone before me, trusting if they could do it, I could too.
Once at my desk with a view, my laptop out and my coffee waiting to be finished, I read an email. From my mother-in-law, a seasoned writer, who sent me almost daily encouragements as I tried to type my soul out, story by story, line by line, word by word. Her email included a blog post written by the writer for which she and I shared an admiration: Donald Miller. She loved his emphasis on story and I admired his honesty. This particular post was entitled The Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Received. And this writer who I admired oh so much simply said he was divinely nudged with the phrase, “Love your reader.”
Love. Your. Reader.
You, who I pictured sitting across that library table from me sharing some coffee and conversation. You, a willing listener to hear the details of my own journey, deserved to be loved as I told them. I loved through the particulars that I thought you needed to hear. The ones that talked of a broken heart as a girl, searching for significance in all the places a girl would, of a young woman falling in love and the fear in it, and midnight marriage prayers only a few years later. Of motherhood and all of its expectations and waves of emotion that I wasn’t prepared for. I told of the questions, the doubts because I wanted you to know you are not alone. I wanted to love you.
And how interesting this phrasing – Love your reader – when the whole premise of my story is love. Three burning questions that get to the core of who we are: Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving? When I consider what truly defines me, it is Love. The Love Giver, who gave his very self on the cross. Who CHOSE to take on the worst of the world in order to heal it. To heal us.
His reason: Because I loved you.
For God is love.
And yet so much of my journey is confusing that love. Is looking for validation that yes, I am lovable, and that please, please love me kind of ask, and the failing after failing of loving the people around me well. Only when I look at The Artist’s truth and ask Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving? do I get a proper sense of my worth. He tells me his Grace covers it all. I don’t have to be everything, or enough, he is enough. I can rest in his pure and generous love. The Artist’s Daughter.
I had it all in my heart as it was now my turn to pound out those words.
Because I believed in the topic at hand, that Grace is given and it is enough.
Because I loved you.
Alexandra Kuykendall works at MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) where she encourages mothers of young children to keep growing as they take on their new mothering identity. She is a regular contributor and consulting editor to MomSense magazine, Connections magazine, and the MOPS blog. A frequent speaker for MOPS, Alexandra has been featured on Good Morning America. As the mother of four young children, she continues to refine her mothering identity. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Derek, and their daughters.
Alex is also the author of The Artist’s Daughter: A Memoir, a book full of short, moving episodes that transport readers into her life that included a childhood in Europe, a spiritual conversion marked more by questions than answers, a courtship in the midst of a call to be with troubled teens, marriage and motherhood – and always, always, the question of identity. Through her personal journey, women will discover their own path to understanding the shape of their lives and a deeper sense of God’s intimate presence within it.
Today we’re excited to give away FIVE copies of The Artist’s Daughter! To be entered to win a copy, leave a comment telling us about something you’ve learned since beginning your faith journey. Winners will be chosen randomly and announced on Friday.