I’ve never been disciplined about revising and rewriting. Ever. Not in any genre or for any audience. Almost all the papers that I submitted in college, graduate school, and seminary were first drafts. Even when I write my sermons today, two drafts seems like a luxury.
While I’ve been blessed with the ability to exceed the standards of others in the first draft, I don’t see this as a virtue anymore. I’m almost 55 years old, and as an outgrowth of editing and helping my students revise their papers, I’m learning how important revision is and beginning to discipline myself to engage in this labor. In my garage sits a container full of old journals. Today, I began to reread them, wondering if there is material that could be rewritten or revised to share with others. So far, I have not discovered the great American novel, or much that would interest even my family members.
Today, I skimmed through about half of my journals from 2010. These journals consist chiefly of thinking through daily living. Dilemmas at work, in the church, within our family, and my own heart, mind, and soul pervade these pages. Efforts to think through blessings, questions, problems, and uncertainties fill these pages. The most striking quality is the sameness of my mental deliberations today, almost seven years later. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been much movement of my interior furniture. Children have graduated, gone to college, and found employment. Throughout the rest of our lives however, we’ve experienced great stability and continuity. My wife and I will soon celebrate our 29th anniversary. We’re going on eight years of serving together in the same place of employment, and nine years of living in the same home.
While continuity may not make for the most interesting reading, it does give great reward and satisfaction. I’m grateful to God that He has allowed us to experience this degree of stability. May He grant us wisdom in how to profit from it.