Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

4 Things I Learned While Writing My Book

I am writing to you today as a published author! I'm still trying to convince myself this is real life as it is quite definitely a dream come true for me.  This week my book, A Rebel's Religion, officially hit the market and is available for purchase here.  I've been working on this project for almost 2 years now and have learned a lot along the way.  Here are just 4 of the many things I learned during this part of my journey:

[1] Passion and Patience don’t play well together.

Patience is difficult.  I’m sensing that you’re not surprised by this exclamation.  Everyone knows patience is hard; I have never, in my life met someone who said, “Oh yeah, patience, I’ve got that down, that’s easy!”  I’m not even good at being patient with silly things like waiting for my 2 day shipping packages to arrive or for my cookies to finish baking in the oven.  You start talking about things I’m passionate about like helping people experience freedom and faith or creating spaces of rest for people worn by this world; well that makes patience even more difficult!  This process of writing my book and getting it published has taught me quite a bit about patience.  It’s taught me the value of patience and how much greater the outcome can be if only I take time to wait for God.  Passion and patience don’t naturally like to hang out together; but man, if you can get them playing on the same team, incredible things happen!

[2] Leadership is about more than being in charge.

This year, going through the process of not only writing a book but also organizing and speaking at retreats and other ministry events, I have learned quite a bit and not nearly enough about leadership.  I think there’s this really well hidden trap that leaders often fall into; where we get so caught up in making the thing (event, service, set, weekend, etc) happen that we neglect the people it’s supposedly for.  At times I find myself becoming so focused on the task at hand that it’s easy for me to miss the precious unplanned moments of ministry where God completely ruins my plans and creates brilliant chaos.  I’m repetitively learning that leadership, more often than not, is about learning to shut up long enough for God to say something.  At least, that seems to be the case for me.  It’s a rather splendid adventure really!

[3] I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do.

I’m not sure if it’s the excess amounts of stubbornness I was blessed with or my difficulty relinquishing control, but for some reason I have this problem of thinking I have things figured out.   Like, if everyone just listened to me, if God just listened to me, things would go much smoother, because obviously trying to do things on my own has been so successful for me.  I often say that Jesus ruined my life which sometimes catches people off guard and gets me copious “I’ll pray for you” looks.  What I mean is Jesus ruined MY life, the life that I had planned.  The one that I had all figured out.  The one that led me to addiction and emptiness and struggle.  Jesus ruined the patchwork house I’d built for myself and offered me a kingdom.  Learning to embrace that, to take in the reality of that already having taken place, to believe that His path is better even when it looks like He’s getting us lost; well, that’s why faith is so important. 

[4] Vulnerability makes a difference.

There are times when I write things more for me than for anyone else.  You know, just to organize the tangled web of feelings that’s stuffed down in the bottom of some sealed off pocket of my heart.  I put in out here on my blog and I read through it thinking, “Eh, not my best piece of writing but hey it’s where I’m at right now.”  Those are pieces on which I get the most feedback! People send me messages saying how beautiful it was or how much they needed to read it right now and it never ceases to blow me away.  Like, I go back and read it again and think… “This piece?  Are you sure?” 

These reoccurring instances remind me how much people crave authenticity and vulnerability.  Those are rare commodities in this world and people devour them any time they are offered.  Writers have this beautifully terrifying gift of putting struggles into words while revealing pieces of themselves at every pen stroke.   Writers are essentially daring to bare their weaknesses so that others might find comfort in knowing that they are not alone in the emotional nakedness of their struggles.  Humanity needs more of that; we long for it.  Earnest Hemmingway once said, “Write long and hard about what hurts.”  Good advice indeed.  We should all dare to be real, to be vulnerable, to be free. 

It’s been one hell of a journey this whole writing a book thing but wow has it been wonderful!   I am continually amazed by how much I learn along each new phase of my journey.  Thank you all for following me as I travel it.  May seeing a little bit of mine encourage you along yours, may you be inspired to tell your story and to write long and hard about what hurts. 

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