Everything is a Rough Draft

Posted on January 9, 2014

College is where I discovered two truths about life. The first is that 95.2 percent of the world’s people are not morning people. Most people are unpleasant before 10 a.m. and a cup of coffee. The second is that every circumstance we experience is a reminder that we’re never truly finished.

While 8 a.m. would greet me with the anticipation of sitting front row in my freshmen English literature class, my classmates were less enthused about hearing our professor recite how important it is to clearly define the exigence of our writing. Professor K had a deep passion for cultivating the literary skills set of her pupils. And I prided myself on being the exemplary student. I excelled in class participation. I analyzed text with the acumen of a literary scholar. I was poised for contending against the smartest of smarties.

I had arrived–except, I hadn’t.

The reality of my non-arrival set in each time I turned in a paper. With all the confidence of an eight-year-old who still believed Santa Claus existed, I would submit my writing assignments assured I had earned an A, A+ if I was feeling lucky. Then, almost suddenly, I would be disappointed. Professor K would return my papers covered in red ink. Her comments were even more heart wrenching:

This reads like a rough draft.

Despite my professor’s criticism and her obvious blindness to compelling thesis, I kept pushing; hoping to gain her affirmation of my writing ability. I never got that affirmation. What I did get was insistence my writing needed more work. Instead of looking at Professor K’s red ink as red tape, I continued showing up to that 8 a.m. class. I pushed my brain to work beyond operational capacity at such ungodly hours of the morning. I wrote poems and short stories. I learned to think like some of world’s most brilliant writers: Keats, Frost, Hurtson and Wilde. I penned words to paper as if writing was breathing. And still, more red ink.

Much to my surprise I received an A as my final grade in Professor K’s class. It didn’t seem logical and appeared to be a mistake given what was now a file cabinet filled with homework assignments covered in crimson. I went to Professor K wanting to understand how it was possible for me to get an A when every single one of my papers received  such poor reviews. I won’t forget the lesson I learned during that meeting. And I hope it will help you too.

Professor K told me her comments of my writing weren’t negative reviews. They were guide posts signaling me to keep going. Yes, there was more work that needed to be done, but I was growing. And growth is a never ending journey with lots of red ink along the way. The red ink was not the point. Who I was becoming as a scholar was the point.

Our lives are no different from my experience in that freshmen writing class. Almost all of us reach a pinnacle of success and finally feel as though we’ve made it. Then, in the blink of an eye, the red ink comes along. A boss who increases expectations of work output. A spouse who’s suddenly unhappy with the marriage. A friend who feels neglected. A child that becomes wayward. A sin or bad habit we believe to have mastered returns.

These snags in life remind us that we’re all works in progress. We’re all rough drafts set against the eyes of the Master Storyteller. But being a rough draft isn’t so bad. As rough as our lives maybe–as frustrating as the red ink appears–they’re signs that we’re trying. And as long as we’re trying there will always be opportunity to keep growing.

Perhaps you’re at a tough place in life, a place where the red ink on your life has become unbearable.

Everything is a ruff draft.

Perhaps your career seems stale.

Everything is a roft draft.

Perhaps your relationship has taken a devastating and unexpected turn.

Everything is a reph draft.

Perhaps the bills are piling up.

Everything is a roof draft.

Perhaps the doctor’s report was unfavorable.

Everything is a rephew draft.

Perhaps that person didn’t forgive you.

Everything is a ruef draft.

Perhaps you’re uncertain of the next step to take.

Everything is a rough draft. But, keep going anyway.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Now it’s your turn: What area of your life are you looking to improve?

Tell me in the comments section below.

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