Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Blahg: Shrewd as a Snake? Not So Much

When I was on a mission trip in Thailand about five years ago, I tried a little experiment.  One of my friends had told me once about this really pretty girl he went to high school with.  She would invite guys to the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) meetings, and they would come, just because she was pretty.  According to my friend, a lot of those guys she invited eventually became Christians through attending FCA meetings.  Well, I wasn't that pretty in high school (especially in my pre-contact lenses days), and I didn't really have a knack for talking to guys.  But for whatever reason, when I was in Thailand, I attracted the attention of a guy named Sin (insert lame joke about "my Sin finding me out" here). 

Well, Sin was really into me, and so I thought I'd try what that really pretty high school girl had done.  I invited him to lunch, hoping that the other members of my team and I could "tag-team witness" to him.  Well, I think it just offended him a little and generally creeped him out...and well, I don't blame him.  It wasn't the smartest decision on my part, and I really should have known better (insert joke about how I should have "fled from Sin" here).  My intentions were good, but unwise.  I still just have to ask myself...what was I thinking? 
Well, the other day I was at the tire shop getting my tires checked, and this stranger dude randomly asked me out to get sushi with him.  I immediately turned him down and stuck my nose in a book so I wouldn't have to talk to him anymore.  In the awkward silence that followed, I considered my decision, wondering if maybe I should have been a little more open to talking with him.  Now, I wouldn't have gone to get sushi with him, but maybe I could have at least been a little friendlier, struck up a conversation.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I'd done the right thing by not talking to him. 

There are some amazing people who can talk to anyone about anything, who can tell strangers about Jesus at the drop of a hat.  They can take any topic and seamlessly transition it into a conversation about spiritual matters.  I'm just not one of those people.  And if I'd tried talking to that guy with the intentions of telling him about Jesus, it would have almost certainly turned out similarly to my experience with Sin.  He would have realized I was interested in talking to him because I wanted to tell him about Jesus, not because I wanted to date him.  And while there's a LOT to be said about caring about someone just because they're a fellow human being whom Jesus loves and died for, I can definitely see how he would have been offended if he were just looking for a pretty girl to eat sushi with.

The thing about me is that what you see is pretty much what you get.  I have a lot of respect for Jesus' command to his disciples to be "shrewd as snakes, but harmless as doves."  The thing is, I just don't think that I'm meant to be "shrewd as a snake."  I am extremely shy around people I don't know.  I am not a good conversationalist even with people I do know.  I love people, and I have a lot of friends, but I have to warm up to people gradually over time.  And I can't just pretend to be something different besides what I am.  I can't talk to strangers (unless the Holy Spirit takes over--that has happened before, and it's awesome, but I have no control over it).  And I felt guilty about it for years before realizing that I'm the way I am because this is how God has made me.  I was doing something wrong when I tried to force myself to be friendly.  ...and honestly, when I did try to be friendly towards strangers, I think I scared them off.  I'm apparently such a weird person that my true personality doesn't come out until after people have had a chance to get used to me.

Recently, I've been thinking about I've been trying to market my writing.  I haven't actually been marketing my writing, mind you; I've just been thinking about marketing my writing.  And what I've been thinking is that I've been frustrating myself with my own agenda.  I used to have this idea about marketing my vaguely Christian writing in the mainstream writing market, in the hopes that some people would pick it up and small Truth that would make them want to search for greater Truth.  But the problem is that I have trouble keeping my faith separate from my writing--so most of it is more than just vaguely Christian.  Also, with the way the current YA writing market is going, my style really wouldn't sell well.  That doesn't mean that what I've written isn't good or sellable, but it means that the current market trends are going a completely different direction than what I'm wanting to sell.  Dystopian.  Paranormal.  Cursing and sex in teen books.  Dystopian and paranormal I can appreciate--and maybe even market some of my other writing in those directions.  But honestly, I think the specific book I'm trying to sell (or thinking about selling) is too innocent (perhaps even "as harmless as a dove") for the current mainstream markets.

And I've been on and off considering that it would probably be a good idea to start switching gears.  I think I'm going to have to start marketing more towards Christian publishers.  The more I've thought and prayed about it, the more it seems like the route I need to go.  I'm not good at being "shrewd as a snake" even in the way I market my writing.  If it's a book with strong Christian themes, then it's a Christian book, and I think I'm going to have to market it that way.  Straightforward.  That's how I am.  I can't change it, and really, I shouldn't try to change it.  God's agenda for me and my writing is greater than my own agenda.  I don't know what's going to happen or how He's going to lead.  I may not become as popular of a writer as I had once hoped (but really, that was always a longshot, and I don't think I want that much publicity anymore anyway).  I do want my writing out there.  I want people reading it.  I want people to know my characters and know what they experience.  I want God to be glorified through my writing.  And I guess if that's my main goal, then I shouldn't be too concerned about all the particulars.

I need to make the transition from thinking about marketing my writing to actually marketing my writing again.  ...but then again, there's a lot of things I need to do.

--I need to stop eating everything in sight.  This week has been bad.  I've just been out of control and not honoring God with what I eat. 

--I've been out of control in my prayer life/Bible reading, too.  I need to get back on track.  I've been talking ABOUT God a lot, but not talking TO Him very much.  That's not okay, but it's an easy trap to find oneself in.  But the thing is, as chaotic as life has been (and will continue to be this week--I'm working at least 2 jobs almost every day), God has just been so gracious.  He's shown me that even when I'm spinning out of control, He's still in control.  His grace is more than sufficient.  That doesn't excuse me from striving to follow Him, but I know that even when I'm struggling, He's got me.  He loves me.  He's not letting me go.  Great is His faithfulness!

--Running?  Going well!  I'm glad something is!  I did 12 miles last week.  I'm going to attempt 13 miles this week (today hopefully), and then start backing off to about 9-10 miles for my last two long runs before the race.  It's a little less than 3 weeks until the half marathon!  I'm getting excited about getting to see family and getting to run my legs off!  Please pray I stay injury free and that I continue to praise God with every step I run!  Those are my only real concerns as the race day approaches!

--Grown up stuff--like job applications and planning to move in JUNE (not to another town, but to another apartment in the same town)?  I feel like I haven't had time to work on these things, but really I've not been MAKING the time to work on them.  This week is going to be busy, but I HAVE to put on my big girl pants and DEAL with this stuff.  Seriously.

--I need to make an effort to go to sleep earlier.  I've been oversleeping and just generally being exhausted during the day.

Honestly, I feel really out of control right now, but that's good.  I'm grateful for the times when the Lord humbles me and reminds me of how much I really need Him.  I pray that He's shining through me, even when I'm a mess. 

Shiny Monday to you!

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