This article is an entry in the MAI Devotional Writing Contest. Try your hand at a 400-word devotional to encourage fellow writers worldwide. Check here for contest guidelines and rules.
By Gaya Manigo, Philippines
I’m a nitpicking writer.
On some days, I find myself reworking already released stories. In writing this short devotional, I have gone back to previous sentences at least thrice, revising along the way. Months from now, I will probably scan through this, wishing I had done it better.
Trouble is, my nitpicking extends to other things. I see faults, imperfections, and errors in my vocation, my family, and me. I would bark at my younger sister for using, and sometimes misplacing, my favorite pens. I would argue with my mother over her hairs left sticking on my bath soap. “Moisturizes my scalp,” Mama says. “You should try it.”
I don’t realize how much of a nitpicker I am until I go to Vietnam. I arrive at a farming village, where I am about to interview a Christian pastor who is imprisoned for sharing his faith with others and for starting a house church. My interpreter goes ahead of me into the house, but before she does, she takes off her sandals and walks barefoot. I hesitate to follow suit. I imagine metal spikes and glass shards piercing through my heels and soles. I envision ants feasting on my toes.
You should try it, goes my mother’s wisdom. I have no choice, since the interview can’t be done outside the hut for security reasons. So, I take off my walking shoes, place them by the door, and step inside. I smile at my host, while I squirm in my thoughts. A few minutes into the interview, my toes start to dig into the soil; it is red, soft, and cold. It feels good.
Later on, I would feel bad. I fixate on something so trivial when someone so important is right in front of me–the pastor for whose story I have risked my limbs and my freedom. I resolve that things would be different the next day. Since then, I’ve plunged into murky rivers, climbed cliffs, and ridden on top of vehicles. I’ve come a long way, but I’m not there yet.
Because as soon as I return to my desktop, I look through some old stories and my nitpicking returns with a vengeance.
Love is patient… it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Cor. 13:4-5)
I pray that you’ll be more gracious and loving, my fellow writer in Christ.
Gaya Manigo* was born at a time when folks say there’s no money in writing. She wrote a few children’s stories while in college. One got published, Naiwan si Botoy, in a major broadsheet’s junior section. Gaya won’t be surprised if you haven’t read it. (*Pseudonym)
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