Our life on this earth is like a sentence.
Some lives are clipped, truncated sentences that feel wantonness for many more words. Others are likened to elongated run-on sentences, drawling out as multi-syllabic as a Southerner’s twang.
Sadly, many others are stuffed with safe, shallow, colorless words so boring that we may find ourselves questioning if they’re even worth the black and white type-space they fill, much less the laborious investment of reading them.
While each of our life sentences may vary in length, vibrancy of adjectives, strength of subject, number of breathing hyphens and pausing commas, we all share one grammatical truth: the end of our sentence.
Whether it be hailed by question mark, exclamation point or period, the fact is: our sentence will end.
Screenshot Fox News.
Good writing teaches us that our sentences should end strong. The height of our message should blare like a sea Nymph’s siren to Odysseus, luring the reader to sail on to the next sentence. The older I grow—the longer my sentence carries its poetry—the more I lean into reflecting upon what would be a worthy ending and punctuation.
A current beautifully written sentence can be read in the life of Meriam Ibrahim. At only 27 years of age, Ibrahim is early in her sentence, and yet has already made an emphatic statement.
She is a Sudanese medical doctor whose government sentenced her to prison and severe flogging, to be followed by hanging—all because she would not recant her Christian faith. Ibrahim entered prison at eight months pregnant, her 2-year-old son in tow. Muslim Imams visited her in prison, pressuring her.
Her captors believed she would crumble when labor pains set in. She did not; instead she gave birth with her ankles shackled to the prison floor. More than life itself, Ibrahim valued being true to her God, human dignity, and a vibrant testimony. Due to a huge international outcry, Sudan finally allowed her to immigrate to the U.S. Her sentence has already inspired millions, and now she seeks to help others who are still suffering as she once did.
Meriam Ibrahim, left, and her husband, Daniel Wani, of Sudan, are greeted by family and friends shortly after arriving in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, July 31, 2014. Ibrahim, who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence that was later overturned, will make their new home in New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) AP Photo/Charles Krupa
In my fifth decade, I bear a heightened awareness that my sentence indeed has an end, and find myself hungry to make clear both the point and privilege of filling the universe with words at all. Do I really want my period to be based upon safety, clarity, certainty, achievement and acquisition? God spare me; spare us all from one more such monotonous sentence picked up from dime-store living.
Although it is terrifying, for many will laugh at or even mock my feeble attempts at living a powerful, vibrant, life-breathing sentence, I long to write one that leaves all readers closing the book of me with an unnerving sense of the divine loom of God that both squalls the oceans and stills the heart of humanity from the same Mysterious Cloud.
Let’s encourage one another to never settle for living tightly edited text, passed on to us from someone else’s book. None of our lives are meant to look the same. God has a unique dream, purpose, and narrative for each of us.
Have you dared to let your life write outside the margins? Do you have even a line or two where you ventured away from the life-expectations of friends, family and culture?
Are you writing a sentence that matters?
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