The Unpublished Chapters

20130327-112312.jpg“My dear fellow. We all have chapters we would rather keep unpublished.” Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey

Jennifer Lawrence has wooed Hollywood and beyond with her real, down to earth, gutsy honesty. She seems to be what everyone has waited for. Some authenticity from Hollywood plastic.

We are in an era where authenticity is applauded. We want ‘real’. We want ‘authentic’. We want the gritty, the broken, the messy. Those of us who are Christians say we want it because we want to remind ourselves, and others, that Christ died for messy. He died for broken. He died to redeem all that.

And that’s not a bad thing.

But at the end of the day – all of us have unpublished chapters and perhaps we should keep it that way.

Perhaps it’s a good thing.

The idea that we are to be emotionally ‘naked’, fully honest with everyone is a cultural value gone wild. The idea that all can carefully handle our truth is a myth, a dream of a perfect society. The notion that ‘authenticity’ means bearing it all – a 21st century fallacy.

Because much of God’s work takes place in our unpublished chapters.

Much of his cutting, his cleansing, his replacing is done behind closed doors. Surgeons don’t let everyone into their sterile field – only those who have been properly trained and can assist with the surgery. I believe the same is true with God – he doesn’t want us to let just anyone in.

And perhaps that is the danger of the public world in which we live. A world where we are to tell all and more in order to appear authentic.

But then we realize the world can’t handle it and does not treat it with care. We thought we were being authentic – but we are skewered in the name of analyzing and critical thinking. That real, authentic, genuine stuff that we have gone through, felt deeply, shared with trembling, is figuratively cast before the swine of our day.

Instead of feeling free and supported, we end up crushed and hurt, feeling the weight of being misunderstood with our private selves revealed.

Can we give each other grace and understanding that there is a major back story without having to share it with everyone? Through blogging I have been privileged to hear a few of your back stories – your unpublished chapters. And they are amazing – they reflect resilience and grace, courage and faith. And I guard them with care.

In turn, I have been able to share with some of you my unpublished chapters – the things that will never go on this blog. They are too dear to me, too fragile, too counter-culture to share.

And so I say to you – Guard your unpublished chapters. Everyone is not capable of reading them and handling their truth.

“Because you’re not what I would have you be, I blind myself to who, in truth, you are. “~ Madeleine L’Engle

16 thoughts on “The Unpublished Chapters

  1. Marilyn, thank you so much for this blog entry. It speaks to a very current issue in my life right now concerning transparency vs discretion. Would love to have a discussion with a thoughtful group of women about this.


    1. Martha – your choice of words was so good “transparency vs. discretion” that’s exactly what I was trying to get at. Would love to sit down with you. On the one hand we have times when we feel we can’t share anything, so trapped do we feel in everyone putting their best face in front of others, other times we share and we realize it’s been with the wrong set of people. I have been incredibly grateful at different times for what could only be the whisper of God’s spirit and an uneasiness. I’ve learned it is critical to pay attention to that. So glad you read this and commented.


  2. God is always capable of reading them and handling their truth and I have found that He usually sends someone into my life that can read and handle my unpublished chapters. But yes, I want to remain in truth, acknowledge painful truth, without casting it to the swine all around. Our culture seems to really be pushing for privacy and boundaries to be done away with. The other morning I happened to turn on the morning news show and sat aghast for several minutes as I watched several women sit around talking in their bras and underpants, before I quickly switched the TV off. I never saw my father with just his underwear on and my brother never saw my mom lounging around in bra and underpants ~ and yet now, to hold to a standard of modesty, privacy, a boundary of some sort is considered ridiculous and prudish if not downright uptight. Now children across the nation have to be subjected to almost naked women during super bowl half time, a constant barrage of advertisements and billboards AS WELL as the morning talk shows. Is it okay for private parts to be, well, PRIVATE? Will this next generation have any concept of what the word even means? I know your blog was mainly about internal chapters, but it seems to me that it applies to many levels, this truth about privacy.


    1. Great comment Carol. And I think you’re right – the post could encompass far more than just our internal chapters. When did modesty become such a negative thing? I love your conclusion which you really wrote at the very beginning – that God is capable of handling all and he does send people who can also handle our truth responding with His truth about us. Thanks.


  3. So well said. Thank you. I had a similar sentiment a couple months ago in regards to Facebook and why people bare all or post seemingly indiscriminately. Some things are better shared with friends in person or not at all. That’s okay.


    1. Actually Facebook and blogs are what inspired this post as well. And to come to a place of realizing we don’t need to bare all feels really healthy.


  4. I couldn’t agree more. I am a new blogger and although I believe authenticity is important – not every broken messy place should be so easily shared. Thanks for posting.


  5. I think this mad rush to bare all has turned into a run away monster. Coming from a Catholic background I remember the sisters cautioning us to be more like Mary who “pondered all things in her heart” rather than spewing it out for all the world to see and comment upon. I like your analogy of casting pearls before swine.


    1. I love that the sisters encouraged that! At the time did you laugh or did you ‘get’ it? I like your use of the words ‘run away monster’ as well. Thank you.


      1. I don’t think these Sisters ever imagined how women these days will “tell all” just to get on TV. I did sort of get it at the time because, but I didn’t heed it. I’m starting to remember now….:)


  6. Thank-you for this. My life’s work is in the unpublished chapters of people’s lives, and these words of wisdom are so true.


    1. I think of you all the time and your wisdom speaking into those chapters. I’m so glad this is your life’s work, and so glad that you’ve offered this gift to me so many times.


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