Today, “Espressos of Faith” celebrates the publication of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (available now at amazon.com!) with a little reflection on how it feels to hold that book for the very first time.
Thank you for being on this incredible journey with me. Your readership has made me strive to use my voice in better ways. I surely hope I accomplish that most of the time, but I so appreciate your grace on the days I fall short.
I hate the mail. I really do. And when my kids bring it into the house on the way in from the bus stop, I feel immediately anxious. Part of this comes from being conditioned to only receiving mail twice a week when we lived in the Marshall Islands. When we did get mail, it was essential mail only. No junk mail. But not here. In the U.S., two-thirds of the mail is advertisements, political campaigns, and credit card/insurance offers. I can’t stand that stuff coming into my house and claiming real estate on my countertops, which is what happens since someone else sets it down, and it might be days before I notice it. So, yeah, I have issues about my mail. Our postal worker must hate me because I personally only collect it twice a week. She gets very creative about how she stuffs my standard-size mailbox. It’s almost a game at this point.
But I was expecting my book proof for two days, so the mail was starting to seem a bit more exciting. And the mail usually comes at 12 PM. But, of course, this time it came at 3 PM. I must have gone down to the box about 10 times yesterday. I think I wore a path in the lawn. The mailbox even started just opening as I approached it, like a big yawn, because it was so happy I was finally taking an interest. Okay, that last part was a bit of an exaggeration. But it did spring open with a bit more enthusiasm than usual.
And then it came.
That box-wrapped-around-a-book thingie.
I had about two minutes alone with it before the kids piled off the afternoon late activity bus. I quickly went inside, ripped that thing open, and cradled it. Several decades of wanting to be a published book author, and several years of actually writing it later—
—and here it was.
There would be time for checking headers, footers, pagination, blank pages, and overall formatting and content in a few minutes. But at that moment, my book and I danced. I wept. My heart grew five sizes bigger inside my chest. It was real. It was here.
And it was mine.
But I didn’t just shed tears for joy. I shed tears for healing, for hope, for health, for heartaches, for all of the stories wrapped deeply into those pages. As I opened it to take a peek, I felt so many things want to leap out, ready to spill into other lives now. Things I had kept close to me. Things that were begging for release.
Ready or not, here I come.
I had prayed my words would be a comfort and a hope to others. That nothing in there would poke at anyone else’s hurt, but only serve to show the way to the light at the end of the path.
But it’s also me word-naked before the public now. Before friends, family, and complete strangers who otherwise didn’t know the ins and outs of my mind and life to that great extent.
I was standing in front of the book mirror with my pages open. And everyone could read me now.
That is exhilarating
all wrapped up in one bow—or box, as the case may be.
And in my prayers as this book came to publication, I asked God to please let it be a message of hope, healing, encouragement, and faith, and that it would give people a glimpse of His amazing love for them. I asked that nobody would misunderstand or be hurt by anything written, and each time I read it through, I tried to read it from a different perspective, wanting to feel the hearts of those in my potential audience. I prayed that His words would go deep into the people who need to hear them. I prayed He would show me any places where I was not reflecting Him correctly, where I was too edgy, too snarky, too negative, and take them out—that He would only let me write and keep in what was edifying, to build up others. That can be a challenge when hitting topics that are sensitive, like abandonment or relational struggles. Those can be so hot-button that everyone thinks it is written about them (even if I don’t know them!). But, actually, it is. Because it’s written about all of us, myself included.
So, I hold my breath now, trembling a little at the thought of letting this long-term project go out into the world—no matter how limited the audience. I have held it for so long in my arms, and pushing “publish” set things in motion that now cannot be reversed. Me—real, raw, tender, vulnerable, and a little quirky—I’m out there. But beneath this tiny voice trying to get out is a bigger, more important one that I so desperately want people to hear: the voice of the Father’s amazing love and how it speaks so patiently, mercifully, and compassionately into my very imperfect life. How He speaks to all of us, if we’re listening.
As I read some of my own shared struggles as well as those of other writer/blogger/author friends of mine, I keep coming back to this: The written word is a tremendous responsibility.
- It’s a responsibility not to lash out (there are ways to express frustration and pain without cutting anyone).
- It’s a responsibility to be honest, even through fiction—not always that the situation we present is our own but that we know how to present a situation because we’ve done our research and listened deeply and attentively to those in that particular struggle.
- It’s a responsibility to share our own lives, when appropriate, with integrity and in a way that is not dishonoring to anyone.
- And it’s a responsibility to have hands outstretched in love, opening up our audience instead of excluding or polarizing people.
I pray I have done that in Not Just on Sundays and will continue to do so through the next few projects I hope to accomplish. It’s important to write well and to regularly receive feedback. It’s equally important to love and respect your audience and those in your story. Without that, our stories are in danger of becoming sour, distorted, and cynical.
Thank you, fellow writers/bloggers/authors, for inspiring me with the way you beautifully maintain that balance.
And thank you, readers, for your willingness to participate in the flawed-but-ever-growing journey.
I love that we have a God who is with us, who saves, who takes great delight in us, and who rejoices over us with singing. Wherever the journey takes me, I want to remain close to understanding that deep in my heart. I hope that you can too.
Zephaniah 3:17, Zephaniah the Prophet speaking
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Not Just on Sundays published today, October 1, 2014. It is currently available at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.