When will I learn?
Isn't it amazing that just one month ago, I was filled with jubilation, soaking up the Spirit of the Lord! I'm sitting here in my living room, looking out at my beautiful forest, and shaking my head. When will I learn? That is the question I seem to be asking myself a whole lot. It's been such an amazing month, so why do I feel like I hit rock bottom again?
This past month I've learned a ton of things about marketing, about putting myself out there. It's been incredibly enlightening and yet totally overwhelming. I've joined the 21st Century on Instagram, Twitter... several other fb groups about writing and authoring. All has been so exciting. I've gotten to talk to some wonderful people who have been doing this for longer than I have and who are... successful.
There it is again. That dreaded, horrible, no good, e...v...i...l word (for me).
Let me tell you about my day yesterday.
I spent it with my grand-dog, Raven, and of course Logan. It was a typical Thursday, laundry day. I love doing laundry in town. It's usually a time when I get to relax, surf the web, chill out. Raven and I had taken a lovely hike up to the top of the property, where I had my face to face time with Jesus. It's breathtaking up there and we love going, even though the hike is challenging (We live in VT after all). Once that was done, Logan and I sat down to watch a documentary of the Civil War. And then it was time to connect with the world. Now that I have a smartphone, it's so much easier. I love getting updates from my family in Germany, seeing pictures of their growing kids. But as I drove into town and the phone started binging, telling me I had new updates, I began to worry.
What was I going to post on Instagram today? Had I gained any new followers on Twitter? What if the things I wrote, the opinions I held, weren't accepted?
By the time I was in town, I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I was feeling stress! I knew I had a lot to do on fb. I wanted to share a few lines for the Thursday writing theme, and I stewed that nobody liked what I had written the day before. As I opened up my phone as soon as I got to the grocery store, anxiety just saturated me.
I mean, yeah – it had been a great week. 'Love the Lord...' had a record of 66 downloads, since I offered it as a gift for Mothers Day. That's unheard of for me! I had gotten 5 star reviews on the Cooper family books as well as 'Running the Good Race'. All that was amazing, adding to the high I had felt all month.
But now... I anxiously checked fb and Instagram on my phone and saw that I had one new follower on Twitter. Hurrah!!!! I shared my pictures of Raven and me on top of the mountain. What else should I do to be noticed?!?!?
Again, total anxiety.
At the laundromat, with Raven lying at my feet and Logan doing his stuff on his computer, I quickly surfed the sites and found myself disappointed. Nobody liked what I had shared the day before (literally!) and I was struggling with Twitter. Ugh, the hits on my website were down from last week! And then came the kicker. My daughter, who teaches art at a Christian school about ½ an hour away, called and begged me to bring her more cotton balls.
Irritation, frustration, anger. I felt all of those in an instant.
I had things to do! I needed to share on fb. I needed to post on Instagram. I needed... You get the point (I hope). By the way, this is going to be long post, sorry. I begrudgingly dragged the dog out the laundromat door, growled at Logan that I would be back, and cranked the engine. I stomped into Dollar General right down the street, and started hunting for the stinking cotton balls. It was warm outside and of course I had brought nothing to drink for Raven, a black, German Shepherd mix. I needed to find these dreaded cotton balls fast!!! And they were nowhere to be seen. I asked the attendant and voilá. Ten minutes later, a shopping bag full of cotton balls, I slammed the door of my car. “She had better not keep me waiting in the parking lot!” I growled to myself as I drove toward school. “How can she be so unorganized? What am I, her errand mom?” You get the annoyance that was building up in me. (Sorry Tash. I had a bad day.)
At the school my daughter came out quickly, fussed over her sweet dog several times, and thanked me over and over again for bringing me her things. I sat stewing. Whatever, kid! Next time...
Raven and I turned back toward home and my phone went off. Logan texted me something illegible (I believe he picked up the skill from his father) and I was confused and concerned. I fretted about having left him alone (he's 16 years old, for crying out loud!) I was driving down the main road, only going over the speed limit by 10 miles, when I thought that I really needed a kind word. I almost pulled into the my editor's neighborhood. But I didn't because because this thick, pit of the stomach worry about Logan being alone pushed me to go on. Right then my phone went off and I picked it up quickly, thinking it was Logan and he was being dragged away by the scruff of the neck and stuffed into an unmarked, black van. (Yes, I have a very vivid imagination, people. I write books, remember?) I'd pity the person who tries it. Logan is a solid six foot tall. Or maybe taller by now.
To my surprise, it was my oldest son who lives in CA with his lovely wife. It turns out he was having a bad day too. One thing we used to do before he moved out west, was to have massive pity parties together. Oh, they were so much fun and soooo... He suggested we have one on the phone. He told me all about his terrible day, one of his client's horses is still lame after he had shooed him, and I sat listening.
Have I lost you yet? Hang in there... there's a point to this, I promise.
Back at the laundromat, finding my youngest unharmed (yes, yes... I don't know what to say) and working on his computer, I returned to my social media. Man, it didn't take long for me to get hooked on it. The sinking feeling continued to press down on me and I fretted. I had agreed to let 'Running the Good Race' be reviewed and of course... What if it gets a lousy review? This thought continued even as I watched Raven enjoy her doggy ice cream later on. She had been such a good trouper all day long, I wanted to reward her. She appreciated it, believe me.
I found that my husband was already home and as I walked in, I just needed a hug. He gave me one right away and knew immediately that I had a bad day. We began to work through my issue (just one at a time, thank you) and I started to see the truth. My value was still found in seeking success, not in resting in what God is doing in me.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 Jn 2:15
Once again my eyes were of the things of this world. I had forgotten the sweet message and the love I had received a month ago. It had been snatched away by the cares of the world. Bummer, there's a parable about that! I had allowed my focus to slip back down to things that were temporary that – really, in the long run – didn't amount to anything. Who cares what others think of my writing? Who needs to see their name on the top best selling Christian books? (I do, right?) As Tom gently, with a ton of patience and care, unpacked my suitcase full of emotional junk, I began to see it.
When will I ever learn?
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Ro 12: 2.3
I was keeping my eyes firmly focused on the things of this world, not on Jesus. In the past I've stayed in that place for many dark and lonely days. I woke up this morning feeling slightly more lifted up. I know that in times past, I would have beaten myself up for not seeing the truth sooner. I would have imagined God's displeasure over my slip. I'm not going there. One thing is sure – God isn't disapproving of me.
He loves me, notwithstanding my many faults = Unconditional love.
Tom reminded me to be thankful. I found it hard. I picked little things that didn't matter.
But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
2 Thes 2:13
I'm thankful for the people who have read my books and who have seen beyond what is written on the page.
I'm thankful for the ability to do what I've come to love.
I'm thankful for the wonderful advise I've received, the opportunities that have opened up for me.
I. Am. Thankful.
My Lord doesn't look down upon me with a frown on His beautiful face. He may sigh, but then He'll rejoice with me as I figure it out. In the end, our relationship will be stronger than it was before and I will have learned another dimension of myself. I will have laid that on His broad shoulders.
I began to think about the apostles. Did they ever feel like they didn't measure up? Was Paul about to throw in the towel because the church at Corinth seemed to not get it? The men and women in the first century stood up to the outside pressure, ran a good race (yes, I borrowed that phrase from Paul) and made it to the finish. They didn't lose hope, and they never looked back. The drove forward to seek Christ in everything they did. It wasn't a walk in the park for them, but they did it.
In the past I would give up now. I'd chuck this whole writing, publishing thing because I'm not good enough, because I can't seem to get past this point of wanting that success (worldly success). But I have a feeling that God has something in store for me; something mind-blowing. He's already done something amazing, something spectacular.
He died for me. He loves me. HE believes in me.
I'm going to ride this wave to the end because I know it's worth it! My worth is not in books.
And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making
many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Have a blessed and wonderful day. Remember to be thankful and look up.
If you came up to me and asked what I do, I'd have to tell you that I'm a wife, mother and teacher. A writer? you ask. Wow. Now that is something I never thought I'd be. But through God, all things are possible.