Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

The Knife September 24, 2013

In my role as an editor, I’ve been dubbed “The Knife” by a few select people. It may sound a bit harsh at first, especially since if you know me, you know I don’t enjoy inflicting pain. (Case in point: as much as I love bacon, I’ve been known to go vegetarian at pig roasts because I can’t bear the thought of eating little Porky once I’ve seen his face.)


But there’s something to the nickname, because ultimately an editor is a surgeon . . . someone who identifies the parts that are sick, decaying, or sucking the life out of a manuscript, and then ever so carefully removes them. For some manuscripts, this looks like major amputation, followed by the grafting-in of new content. Other manuscripts require the use of a smaller knife for more intricate incisions.



As gentle and careful as a surgeon might be, there’s no getting around it: the knife hurts. It’s never pleasant to have a part of yourself sliced into or lopped off. But the alternative is worse. It’s better to have someone who cares about you do surgery than to let the infection worsen and potentially creep to other parts of the body (or manuscript) as well.


Lately I went through the eye-opening experience of having the tables turned. Instead of the knife being in my own hand, this time I was on the receiving end of the edits. And you know what? It hurt to be on the operating table. But in the best possible way. That’s how it feels when you hear truth from someone who loves you. Good hurt.


Wounds from a sincere friend

are better than many kisses from an enemy.

—Proverbs 27:6



As in manuscripts, so it is in life. Although there’s a part of me that wants to bury my head in the sand and hide my vulnerable places in front of others, deep down I really want to know my weak spots. I want someone to gently point out my blind spots. It’s the only way I know to grow.


Right now I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, and she talks a lot about the power of making ourselves vulnerable before others. “Courage,” she says, “starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”



Maybe you don’t need a literal editor or a surgeon right now, but in what ways do you need to show up and let yourself be seen? Where do you need to let down your guard? Where do you need to allow other people speak truth into your life?


If we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. . . . To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.

—Brené Brown


If we’re going to grow and dare and live brave, then we need to put ourselves on the operating table every once in a while . . . and entrust our friends with the knife.




The Art of Pruning January 25, 2012

Filed under: Accountability — Stephanie Rische @ 8:15 am
Tags: , ,

My husband and I joke that he only moved in three things when we got married: his bike collection, his guitar collection, and his plant collection. I benefit from all three, but I’m specifically loving the plants.

Daniel is a master green thumb, especially when it comes to violets (which I have a pretty storied history of killing myself). The trick, he says, is in the pruning. At first it struck me as unnecessarily brutal to take a pair of scissors to those innocent little leaves that don’t seem to be hurting a soul. But if his flowering pots are any indication, this method seems to be working.

Yesterday I had one of those pruning conversations myself. Someone I love gently held up the mirror to me on one of those habitual sins I wasn’t even aware I’d been guilty of. And for me, those deeply entrenched lifestyle sins are way more painful to prune away than the one-time doozies. It feels more like digging up a root than trimming an errant leaf.

As much as it hurts to feel the shears, though, it’s what I want. It’s only when I let someone close enough to show me who I really am that they can help trim away the places that are quite literally sucking the life out of me.

Grace, I am learning, sometimes comes in the form of pruning shears.

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
—John 15:2