At some point, in one of my writing classes in college, I was told by one of my professors that sometimes in the editing process you have to "kill your darlings."
Sometimes we write something, and we nail it. That line or that paragraph could not have come out of our minds and onto the page more perfectly. A detail is described exactly how it should be or a thought is communicated with just the right amount of wit. Being our favorite parts of what we've written, we hang on desperately to our "darlings," working the rest of the story around them because they are just too good to lose.
But what my professor was trying to make us understand is that sometimes, as wonderfully written as they are, they aren't helping the story. In fact, the story can't work properly unless they are removed. It is painful to do this. It feels wrong. But sacrificing these cherished nuggets now will actually leave room for your story to be filled with even more meaningful details and a much richer plot. In the end, your story is better after having let them go.
I wonder if this can be said in our own lives, too. We hold on to different details, different dreams we had plans to write into our lives. And these dreams are awesome and interesting and will give our stories the punch, the wow factor, that they need. We try our best to keep them, reworking the rest of our lives and expectations around what we think are our best laid plans. But something isn't right. We can't seem to keep the plot going. We begin feeling like a clock with something jammed into its gears. Everything is grinding jerkily together, unable to work properly until that piece of something is removed.
I have darlings that I'm having trouble letting go of. Traveling the world, moving to a different state after college (one with mountains and seasons), building a successful career, gaining the approval and praise of others. All of these seemed like perfectly written details to me.
But If we keep them too long, our darlings can turn into our demons. As I keep mine close to my heart, they are poisoning my true story. Preventing me from moving forward. Preventing me from seeing the meaning and beauty my story could have without them.
Releasing these darlings feels like I'm releasing part of who I am. I fear that after releasing them, my story will be empty, my life will be drab. Again I am reminded that I am not the author of my life, and the burden of reworking and refilling doesn't rest on my shoulders. As I trust the God who knows best how my story should go, I can let Him gently pry my tightly clenched and cramped fingers away from my precious darlings, knowing that a richer story awaits.