I’m working on writing a book.
Even saying that is hard.
I feel like I should have so much more figured out to be able to say that.
The truth is that it is slow work, work that I feel like can almost get buried under the laundry and diapers and dishes and hot mess days. The truth is that it is a tiny sprout of a dream that I barely know what to do with. The truth is that I’m only through the first pages of my book proposal, that I’m not even sure will make it until the final draft, and feel like a fraud. The truth is that I’ve never done this before and don’t know where this will take me.
And if I’m honest, I’m also afraid.
I’m afraid I’ll get to the end and it will have all been said before. I’m afraid that no one will care and that my words won’t help anyone. I’m afraid that no one will want to publish it. I’m afraid that I’m using up all my creativity now and there won’t be anything left for the book.
But then I remember what Emily Freeman says, “Fear is a normal part of the process, but courage gets the final say.” I’m choosing to believe this today.
As I feel my muscles tense up and the shame pour in that I’ve only written a little bit in recent days, I’m choosing to say, “Yes, I see you. I see you, fear. You’re supposed to be here. You’re part of this, whether I like it or not. But you don’t have the final say. I get to choose whether or not I give you a microphone or put you in the corner.”
When I give my soul room to breathe, I often find my fears there. But they aren’t the dark, sinister creatures I imagine them when I am scurrying, rushing, running from thing to thing. When I pause to look at them, I realize that their shadow is much bigger and badder than anything they actually are. When I’m slowing my heart to actually look at them, I see that they are small and need to be coaxed out into the light.
Naming my fears has been a powerful thing for me in recent years. When I put into words what I’m afraid of, suddenly the light gets turned on, the shadow disappears and all that is left is a small, trembling creature that doesn’t feel quite so awful, one that Jesus has given me victory over.
So, today, I’m turning on the light. I’m pausing to look at what is lurking in my heart. I’m slowing myself to see what I’m afraid. And I’m inviting Jesus into that place. I’m speaking truth over these little creatures.
It’s normal to be afraid of big things, of brave things. But the Lord goes with you here. Sometimes it feels like you don’t need the Lord’s help, as if you should be able to muster all the courage it takes to deal with your fear on your own. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Listen to these words from Joshua: “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1: 5,6)
Every command the Lord gives to Joshua to be strong and courageous is accompanied by the truth that the Lord is with him; the Lord won’t leave or forsake him. Real courage can’t be mustered. Real courage can only be found in the Lord. He is the one who gives my heart courage when I am afraid or don’t know what to do or feel out of control. He is the one who faces my circumstances with me, helping me to be brave. He is the one who goes into my writing with me. He shows up even here. He gives me the courage I need to write this book.
I’m afraid I’ll get to the end and it will have all been said before.
Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. But think of how much you need to hear the same thing. You need to hear you’re brave. You need to hear that you’re loved. You need to hear Jesus is with you. Over and over and over again. Your message doesn’t have to be new and exciting. It can be familiar and faithful.
You’re not responsible for outcomes. You’re responsible for doing the work. The rest is up to him.
I’m afraid that no one will care and that my words won’t help anyone.
This one does feel scary. If it doesn’t help anyone, does it matter? Why are you even doing this?
But the fact is that even if all that happens through your writing, is that YOU change, that is no small thing. You’re becoming someone who is faithful with the little you’ve been given, as you write. You’re becoming someone who looks deep and hard into their own heart, asking the hard questions. You’re becoming someone who invites Jesus into the mess of creative work. You’re becoming someone who trusts him for outcomes. You’re becoming someone who shows up, not knowing what will happen.
Even if you’re the only one who changes, that is no small thing.
Your job is to keep showing up. Keep plugging away. Keep writing. The Lord is responsible for outcomes. The Lord is the only one who can make hearts change. Maybe he will use your writing. Maybe he’ll use something else. That isn’t yours to know. You are asked to be faithful with what you have.
I’m afraid that no one will want to publish it.
In a world of so much worth being placed in achievements and accolades, accomplishments and performances, it feels hard to believe writing a book is worth it if no one wants to publish it. But the truth is that you aren’t what you do. Your worth isn’t found in whether your words are published. Your worth isn’t found in how many people read what you write. Your worth is found in Christ. Nothing can take that away.
And I know you wouldn’t want this book to be published just for your own sake. Maybe in a selfish moment that sounds good, but it isn’t what you really want. You only want this book to be published if the Lord is in it. You only want this book to be published if it is in the Lord’s timing. You only want this book to be published if he’s behind it all.
You can trust him. You can trust his timing. You can trust him to tell a good story with your life.
If you’re reading my blog, I’m beyond grateful. When I started this blog back at the end of last summer, I set up the goal to blog twice a week, Tuesdays & Fridays. I see the benefit and the grace in the midst of that discipline and am so glad to have committed to our bi-weekly conversation here. The Lord has used this space time and time again, in ways that I’ve gotten to see (and I’m sure plenty of ways that I haven’t) and that has been a tremendous grace. As I start to see this book dream take more shape in my heart, I’m scaling back to posting once a week on Tuesdays (although there may be more posting from time to time, as the mood or occasion strikes.) I’d covet your prayers as I jump in with both feet into this book proposal process.
Friends, I’m not going anywhere. I can’t thank you enough for reading and showing up here. Thanks for being here. I’m so grateful for you.