They don’t tell you about the book proposal.
Everyone thinks that writing a book is this glamorous thing. That’s about as far as you can get from the truth while remaining on planet Earth. Not for nothing did sportswriter Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith say, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”
Add in some sweat, tears and nausea and you’ve got it.
But then the thing is finally done and you feel like you’ve given birth or created a new civilization from scratch or at the very least endured the lines at Costco without threatening to hit someone. You’d think that would mean celebration, but writers are a strange sort. Completion brings with it the nearly irresistible urge to throw the manuscript in a trashcan and burn it under the light of a full moon.
If you manage to hold on, you’re faced with the fantasticness of a book proposal.
What happened to the good days when you could just send your masterpiece to a publisher? Now it’s all about agents and lists and how many followers you’ve got on social media and don’t you dare think of sending in your book without a special, gold-embossed invitation from The Person In Charge of Making Your Dreams Come True.
You have to do something like this or this. The stuff of nightmares.
When I first saw that outline, I thought, “I can’t do it.” Hot fear welled up inside my chest. Tears stung the corners of my eyes. Nobody in his right mind would read a book proposal from me and want to take on the actual book.
This isn’t actually about a book proposal at all.
My reaction, bad as it was, finds its roots in the minor-key theme of defeat that plays in my mind at all times. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t. Fail. Fail. Fail. I’ll be 32 in a few months and that music has been on repeat for I don’t know how long. So often it drowns out any new melody of hope or strength.
The intensity and immediacy of my response startled me, but not until a couple of days later. Usually takes me that long to figure out what I’m feeling. I deal in delayed understanding. It came with sudden, full-force, punch-in-the-gut, take-your-breath-away pain, the kind you feel in the center of your heart.
When you ask the Lord to shape you into the person He wants you to be, you don’t realize that an integral part of the process will be Him dredging up every nasty, stinking thing that makes its home in the dark and hollow places of your spirit. The places you don’t readily give up to Him. The places where you try to hide the things that you really feel, think and believe. Because surely He can’t see. Surely He doesn’t know.
Fellow human, we are stupid.
God can’t change us without getting rid of the junk. He starts with the big, bad habits, the stuff that everyone knows about. Then He gets a little pickier. And a little pickier. And finally so picky that He’s tearing apart your thoughts, the ones you don’t even quite know that you have. He’s convicting you and comforting you in ways that you never knew you needed to be convicted or comforted.
He’s asking me, “Why do you persist in living in defeat? Why do we come back to this same place over and over again?”
The thing with Jesus is that He’ll wait. He’ll just stand there, on that sore spot, pressing in ever-deeper until you’re finally ready to face whatever it is you need to face. There’s a lot of running that you can do. A lot of twisting and turning and avoiding. He’s still there. Still asking the question.
Why do I believe the can’t and fail instead of the will and the victory that are rightfully mine as a daughter of the living God? I could blame my family of origin or teenage experiences or physiology. And maybe some of that comes into play. But where it really lands? I make a choice. I know what I have to do to keep myself from spiraling down into the pit of despair, but I haven’t been doing it. I’ve been distracted. Worried. Wrapped up in other things.
I’ve let the music play without a fight.
I honestly sometimes wonder why God doesn’t blow me off of the map.
Maybe you’re like me today, hanging out in the By-Path Meadow, chilling with Giant Despair and his wife, Diffidence. (If you’ve not read Pilgrim’s Progress, please do). Your eyes wandered from the narrow path and you got off track. You didn’t mean to. It just sort of happened. Now everything looks dark and bleak. Get up with me, fellow traveler. Get up and let’s make our way back. Let’s sit with God in the questions and remain until the healing answers come.
Defeat is not our destination.