This is long. I make no apology. I have a lot on my brain and need to dump it somewhere. So I'll dump it here.
I care too much about what other people think of me. This sin probably contributes a little to the fact that I'm just now starting to attempt to get my writing published. It's not the only reason. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I'm even ready to try to get anything published at all.
Recently, someone was talking about giving birth. I have never given birth and probably never will. I'm only 30, so at this point I could still potentially get married and have kids. But, I'm really adverse to the idea of walking around nine months with a living creature growing inside of me, only to have to painfully squeeze it out in front of some weird doctor(s). The idea of a C-section is even more appalling--actually being awake while said weird doctor cuts you open. Eww. No thanks. I love kids and have a huge heart for adoption, so if I do get married, kids aren't out of the question--I'm just not big on the idea of having my own.
Anyway, I started thinking about my writing, likening it to having a child. For far longer than nine months, I've been carrying around this child. I conceived it about nine years ago. It's grown and developed quite a bit. I started having some contractions. I thought I was finally ready to deliver, so I started looking around for someone to help me deliver--a literary agent for my midwife. I'm starting to have some doubts to that. Perhaps I wasn't really having contractions. Perhaps they were Braxton-Hicks contractions that led me to believe I was ready when I wasn't.
I'm still not sure if I'm ready to do this. Part of the reason I went ahead and sent out some queries is because I started sensing that some people thought I was stalling out of fear. So I went ahead and sent out some. I'm not saying that the only reason I proceeded was because I cared what other people thought, but that was at least part of it. I care what people think.
And here's where I get really honest. I'm not sure how many of my perceptions are true, or how much I just invent out of my own self-conscious vanity, but it hurts me to believe that there are people out there that think that writing is a foolish pursuit. And I do believe that. I believe that there are others who judge me because I actually dare to believe that the Lord has given me this work to do.
Writing isn't church work. It's not an obvious ministry. It isn't like going overseas and working with orphans or unchurched people. It's not like teaching a Bible study. It's not like handing out food to the homeless people downtown. And I perceive, either correctly or incorrectly, that there are people in my church and circle of friends who think I'm batty for even wanting to do this. Whether or not my perceptions are correct, it matters not. The fact of the matter is, I'm sinning by caring too much about what other people think. If the Lord has called me to this, then it will happen. If He hasn't, I need to trust Him to show me that and lead me to what He wants. I do believe He has called me to this. I believe that, in His timing, there will be fruit to the work I'm doing. The figurative child will be delivered, and the child will be something God can use. It doesn't matter whether anyone agrees with me and my vision or not.
Another sin I have is vanity--which is related to the caring of what others think. A lot of people have asked why I don't sing more in church. I'm in the choir at my church, but I'm aware of the fact that I could probably do solos. I'm too well aware of that fact. The reason I don't ask to sing solos or make it more apparent that I can sing well is because I know how vain I am. I like to sing to praise God; I like to sing because the Lord gives me songs and the grace to sing. My fear is that if I get the chance to stand out too often, I'm going to be tempted to sing to glorify myself. My writing is no different. I fear that if I have success with my writing, I'll be tempted to praise myself instead of God.
The amazing thing about this process of trying to get published is how humbling it is. The Lord is incredibly faithful to humble us if we ask. I've been asking that for the past couple of weeks, and I've been seeing it in many aspects of my life. Working with kids gives me plenty of opportunities to be humble. I can't say I've always been the most humble this past week. Jesus said in Matthew 10 that if you offered a cup of cool water to a little one in His Name, you would not lose your reward. I have lots of opportunities to give cups of cool water to little ones. Sometimes I do it a lot more graciously than others. At the end of the day, I get to reflect on how I treated those kids, and on how much I have to rely on God to be gracious.
I'm also experiencing this humbling in my writing. I've queried about ten agents, and gotten back eight respones. All were rejections. The rejections themselves are not so humbling; they're what is to be expected. What's humbling is that I'm now confronted with the arduous task of assessing the rejections I've received and rewriting the queries I've sent and trying to figure out how and who to send my next queries to--if I'm even ready to do that at all. (Forgive the run-on sentences!) I obviously do not know what I'm doing and need guidance. I need grace. I can't do this on my own.
This brings me to my cry.
Last night, I attempted to start a book that is described as "Christian Fantasy" (Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul). I fell asleep two pages into it, not because it was that boring, but because I was THAT exhausted. I'm actually looking forward to reading more this afternoon. But in the front cover of this book, there are little quotes from other authors giving "praise for Dragonspell." I was reading some of these last night before starting the book, and one quote caught my attention: "No one will ever be able to read this and doubt that Christian fantasy is a viable genre for spreading God's Word." --Christine Lynxwiller (president of American Christian Romance Writers)
Now, I'm still trying to get over a lot of my prejudices against "Christian writers," and so I'm not sure how much I can trust the opinion of someone who is president of a group called the American Christian Romance Writers, but that really is neither here nor there. The important thing is that the quote so moved me last night that I had to pause for a few moments and burst into tears.
I want my writing to elicit that response in people. I want people to read my work and think that it's something that could draw people to God and to the Gospel. I believe that it's not only possible (all things are possible with God), but that the Lord has called me to this very thing. And the cry of my heart is that the Lord would do something big--not with me, but with my writing. The cry of my heart is that He will get the glory for it. The cry of my heart is that lives will be changed because of this work the Lord has given me to do.
And I cry out, begging for your prayers as I try to be faithful to what God has given me to do. I pray that I will only be concerned about what God wants, and not give a second thought to what other people may or may not be thinking. I ask that God will direct me in this uncertain process and this uncertain stage of my life. If there's an agent He wants me to have, He will provide that. If He wants me to market this book towards a more Christian audience, He will reveal that to me and open the doors for that to happen. If He has something else planned that I can't even imagine, then that will happen, too.
I'm learning that trust and obedience live in a completely symbiotic relationship. You can't obey without trusting, and you can't trust without obeying. If I trust God, that's going to be fleshed out through obedience. There are so many things that beg for our time and attention--so many needs to be prayed for. I am still foolish enough to ask that you add this to the many things that you pray for. I ask that you would pray for guidance for me as I seek to trust and obey God. I ask that you would pray that His name be glorified in my writing and my work. I ask that you would pray for the right timing and the right marketing and the right avenue for my writing to make maximum impact on the people God wants to reach.
I don't understand what God is doing, but I understand that He is doing something. I'm not sure if these contractions are the real deal or not. What I do know is that even if it's not time to deliver, God is using this "child" to teach me a lot.
Thank you so much for reading this (I know it was long). Thank you for praying. I am very much a weak fool, and I'm very much in need, but the God I serve is able to provide beyond anything I could ask or imagine. As wild as my imagination is, that's a pretty exciting concept.