by Sarah Van Diest
Father, You are my maker. You didn’t wish you could back space to erase some part of me. You love me as you made me. Give me strength to walk this life in faith believing Your word about who I am and who You are. Take the red lines I’ve allowed to score deep marks under my life away and replace them with your truth. Forgive me for the times I’ve etched those red lines with my own pen in stubborn self-pity. And Father, give me eyes to see those around me as the works of marvel they are. Give me wisdom to help others see those red lines for the lies that they are. You are worthy of our praise and thanks! And You are no red-line-maker.
Sometimes I feel like I’m being saved from myself.
My computer runs too slowly for me to capture all my thoughts, as though somehow that’s best for me.
I sit waiting for the screen to appear that allows my thoughts to find their mark and be written down, but the page hides from me. It makes me wait and my thoughts don’t want to wait. They fly. They race through my mind and have no outlet.
Then when I do start writing, that wicked red line appears under misspelled words calling me to fix them. To break my thoughts and make sure that they are perfect. I hate that. I don’t want to fix them. I hate fixing them. But I hate the red line even more.
The red line tells me that I’ve messed up. It says that something about what I have written isn’t good enough. It’s not going to be publishable. It isn’t acceptable. It’s not worthy.
I have red lines all over my life. I see them usually before anyone else does. I see them and try to fix them. I know they aren’t really gone, though. I’ve just polished them out of sight. Or covered them up with something that looks good. I’m afraid to show my red lines. I’m afraid to leave them out where others can see them.
My mother-in-law told me that the berries I had picked weren’t to be used until winter. I asked her if she wanted me to bake a pie for her. It was mid summer. That was bad. That was a red line to her. She let me know that there was red all under that idea.
I made a suggestion for an addition to an author. He didn’t like it. He cut it out. It was a red line to him.
We live with red lines every day. Someone doesn’t agree with something you say, or the kids don’t like the soup you made, or the skirt you picked out doesn’t match your blouse at all and you know yourself that it’s a red line fashion mistake.
I guess the question isn’t what do red lines look like in our lives, but instead, what do we do with them? I think if we live life trying to fix or hide all of the red lines in our lives we’ll go nuts. Crazy. We’ll become exhausted, complacent and apathetic. We’ll realize that no matter how many red lines we fix, there will always be more on the horizon. And we’ll grow so weary that we’ll just quit. Give up.
So, if that’s not the answer, then maybe that’s not the question.
Maybe the question hides behind the red line and isn’t the red line itself. Maybe the question is more about where the red line came from, who put it there, and what does it matter anyway.
Maybe it’s what the red line signifies. Because if I think about it, it doesn’t really matter if my blouse doesn’t match my skirt, it’s what I think it says about me and who I am and what my worth or value is that makes that red line sting.
Who’s putting those red lines there in the first place? Who is it that’s saying ‘you’re wrong’, ‘you’re bad’, and ‘that’s not good enough?’ I suppose sometimes we might have a boss telling us that our work is unacceptable for the job we’ve been asked to do, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the red lines that we feel someone writes under the words that describe who we are. The red line underscores words like “valuable”, “worthy” or “loved.” It’s as though the red-line-maker wants us to change those words to read “not valuable”, “worthless” or “unlovable.”
That makes me mad!
But I laugh at the same time because I recognize that I can’t just cast the blame off onto some unnamed source. I know that I gave that source this power somewhere along the road. Who knows why, but I did. Maybe because I doubted my own comprehension of the truth and that source looked so confident. Whatever the reason, what’s done is done. Where do I go from here? How do I take that power back from the red-line-maker?
But my Savior does.
I look away from the red lines all together and rest my life in the deep pools of my Father’s eyes.
His gaze on me sees no red lines.
“I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Ps. 139:14.
I am not a mistake. No red lines.
Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.