The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Your hands. – Psalm 138:8
I recently checked an item off my bucket list. I finished a manuscript. A manuscript that took me a lot longer than I expected and was much more challenging to write than I ever imagined.
The dream began when I was about 10. I loved writing. I loved books. I loved the library. I secretly longed to one day see my own book on a library shelf. Then 20 years ago, I decided to finally write my own novel. I excitedly pondered main characters and a storyline, then sat down and started writing. I quickly typed out the first few pages and ended the writing session feeling content. I was one day closer to fulfilling my dream.
Shortly after I started writing my novel, life threw me a series of major curve balls. Life got hard. Really hard.
Consumed with survival, months slipped by between my writing attempts. When I finally sat down at the keyboard and reread what I had written, discouragement replaced my excitement. The words weren’t good enough. I either did a major edit or deleted everything I had written. I repeated this cycle for close to 15 years. As a result, I made little progress beyond the first few chapters.
Even during my darkest trying-to-survive days, while neglected, my passion to write remained.
I wanted to write. I longed to write.
While my fiction writing attempts seemed futile, I was given several opportunities to anonymously write non-fiction. I gave each effort my very best, but since I got very little feedback, I doubted I had the skills to be a “real” writer.
Years ago, I realized there is a fine line between a “duh” and an “ah-ha” moment. One morning I had one of those moments concerning my writing. Duh: I could not get traction on my story because I was writing the wrong storyline. Ah-ha: I needed to tell my own story of God’s faithfulness through the lives of my fictional characters.
I wanted to write. I longed to write. I sensed I was called to write.
I eagerly re-engaged…only to have the same experience as before. Write. Re-read. Not good-enough. Scrap. Re-write. Save. Stop. Repeat a few months later.
Then three years ago on Christmas, I felt prompted to write about my struggle with disappointment and share it on social media. I knew I was to be transparent in my writing. As much as I wanted to write, I was scared to death. This was not an anonymous post. I quickly posted and cautiously, and frequently, peeked to see if there were any comments. I was delightfully overwhelmed by the response. Actually, the response prompted me to do some intense soul-searching. I realized I wasn’t just called to write, I was called to write to encourage others. I knew what I needed to do: prayerfully, I started my own blog.
Encouraged, I dusted off my novel and made some serious headway in my storyline.
Ironically, each blog post fueled my fiction writing. This time it was different. I joined an online writer’s guild to hone my skills. I wrote harder and with intention. As my storyline reached completion, I researched how to prepare a manuscript proposal. I never realized how much work is involved in the submission process. One of the requirements was a front-cover tagline which captures the essence of the story. I pondered only a few moments before my fingers flew across the keyboard. I paused to read what I had typed.
Sometimes life does not follow your carefully scripted plans…
Yet in the surrendered stillness of a willing heart, a glorious plan unfolds.
Wow! I was astonished. I knew for certain these were God-breathed words and not my own.
And…well, ouch. I had another ah-ha moment. This one was really painful.
Life had not followed my carefully scripted plans. I knew firsthand that life had not followed my plans; I had even written about it on my blog.
Surrendered. I honestly thought I was completely surrendered to God’s will…but I wasn’t.
I certainly wasn’t still. While I wanted to write, longed to write, knew I was called to write, and knew I was called to write to encourage others, I had been frantically writing with the hope that it would launch a new career and allow me to escape a difficult work environment.
Willing heart. Was – am - I willing to use my God-given talents and passion for the sole purpose of encouraging others? Am I willing to write in obedience for His glory alone and not for personal gain or accolades?
After repenting, and without hesitation, I finished up my manuscript proposal and sent it off. I still have not heard anything from the literary agent. And I may not hear back. I am not sure how – or even if – the Lord will use my story or allow me to see my book on a shelf. Perhaps this was a lesson in persistence. Or a test of obedience.
I do know, for certain, that for this moment I am to wait.
And in the surrendered stillness of a willing heart, His glorious plan will unfold.