Rough Drafts

November 4, 2013

*Last month, I linked up with the beautiful Sheloves Magazine on the theme of #create and they were gracious to include a snippet of my post, Beauty in the Margins, in their October Zine (I especially loved the pretty pink I found my entry printed upon). Incidentally, their November theme is #margins so I am excited to again be writing on the theme and linking up there.*

Real change occur in the margins.

Before there were google docs and shared collaborative online documents, editing happened in the margins. Minor spelling and grammar errors were circled and underlined within the document, while the work of major revision took place in the space bordering the content.

“Re-think the flow of this paragraph.”


“Flesh this idea out more.”

The reordering, refining, revising, rounds out the rough edges of the piece in hopes of uncovering the gem in its final form. The margins are not idle space, on the contrary, the margins deliver transformation.


In the same way, our greatest hope for meaningful change lie in the margins.

Consider the way children, before they have learned adult sensibilities, expose the ugliness inherent within us. Only a child would call out – the emperor has no clothes! A child doesn’t try to cover up selfishness. They bring to surface what we have been programmed to hide. We depend on them to confront the truths of our depravity and need for redemption.

Consider the sick among us, how their physical manifestation of pain and brokenness reflect our own. Only in reaching out to bandage their wounds can we ourselves receive healing.  

Consider the poor, in their captivity and helpless state, reveal the violence of our imperfect economic system. The indignities of the poor plead urgently in the margins, scribbled with the blood of maternal mortality, inked with the tears of trafficked children, for sustainable change. Only when we bend low to lift them up can we achieve new heights together.

It’s messy out in the margins. There’s no pretense of structure, no image to uphold. Just the realities of the gritty human experience. Where babies cry and toddlers interrupt. Where depression threatens and insanity rules. When deformities cause us to squirm. Where rights are denied and dreams shattered. Where hearts are broken and the wail sounds. When death comes suddenly in the night. Often, it is when tragedy strikes we witness the emergence of the true human spirit. When life throws a curveball and perspective dawns on us. When none of it matters except what truly matters: love, loyalty, grace, hope, and courage to make it through another day. When you camp out in the margins, you begin to piece together patches of broken promises restored, hope rekindled, prodigals returned. And like a mosaic, each of those patches slowly form into the picture of truth previously unseen.

We are all of us rough drafts, works in progress. We put one word after another and turn sentences into paragraphs. We strive for semblance of happiness, buy into a false sense of security, and survive a peace which does not endure. When all along, our salvation is found in the margins. Only when we have come face to face with the monsters within us can there be hope of casting it out. The raw truth of our actions and consequences must be confronted with both audacity and tenderness before justice can be dealt. Grace comes only after we have torn up our robes and wept from the deep well of contrition. This kind of deep heart-baring soul-wrestling begin in the margins.

Then we wait for the diamond in the rough to emerge with its shine; tiny rays radiating one facet at a time, hoping for nothing short of brilliance.