I have read the same book at least twelve times in the last three years, six alone in February.
I also wrote the book.
It’s shocking how many times I can go through the same pages and continue to find mistakes. Placing a comma outside the quotation marks seems to be one of my ongoing writing sins.
As I edited the document, yet again, I recalled working for a man over twenty-five years ago who asked me to go through a banker’s box stuffed with client files and extract one piece of information from each folder. I compiled the list and presented it to him with satisfaction.
His response? “Thank you. Now go back through the files and find…” I assumed he didn’t know of his second requirement when he gave me the first. I completed the task, thankful for the hours, and handed him the information.
You guessed it. He asked me again to repeat the process at which point I asked for a meeting and we brainstormed seven other helpful pieces I could pull on one final pass.
This lesson came to mind as I revisited my pages again and again and then Bill said, “You should use the Find feature on Word for any mistake you consistently make.” Brilliant.
I typed in ‘Ok’ and Word showed me thirty-five places where I spelled it incorrectly. One Replace command and voila, all of my ok’s were okay.
I’ve been pondering the incident and considering how it applies to my life.
At times it makes sense to do the hard, plodding work of going over situations from the past to gather insights and grow. Revisiting wounds to forgive and find healing takes time and can feel like files being opened, assessed and closed over and over.
But I am also learning that God is faithful to bring to my attention attitudes, actions, and beliefs that aren’t in line with His desire for me. When I genuinely ask the Lord to search me and know my heart; to test me and know my anxious thoughts; to see if there is any offensive way in me, He does. (Ps 139:23-24).
To return to the book analogy, I ask if I will use Find repeatedly and just scroll past misplaced comma after sentence fragment, muttering to myself, Oh well, that’s just how I write. Or, will I do the hard work of researching how to correct the mistake and choose Replace because that decision creates a higher quality book?
My brain has some well-worn ruts of unhelpful thinking that I can’t prevent from kicking in periodically. However, when God draws my attention to them, I must choose. Will I continue in old comfortable ways or will I take that thought captive to Christ and ask for grace to think on truth?
The book is almost done. Perhaps I’ll read it one more time, just to be sure.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst