Freight Trains & Thorny Expectations
I am writing a book.
I told myself I would have a rough draft ready by December 15th.
It’s a self-imposed ending point. It’s totally subjective. It has nothing to do with any external deadline or outside pressure.
I have the draft book proposal completed. My first three chapters are done. My chapter outline is finished. With some tweaks and edits to its current state, I could start sending it off to potential editors or agents soon. Just doing all that should feel awesome!
But it doesn’t feel awesome.
So why does it feel like this? And by this, I mean it feels like a freight train coming down a hill while I’m stuck in the middle of the track, unable to pry my shoe free as it races towards me.
Find a way to move fast or prepare to be ran over.
The book I’m writing is about dreams, surrender, and purpose. I’m writing things I wish I had heard when I was a younger woman. My prayer is it’s a real message that will encourage and challenge those who read it. My heart is for it to impact others for Jesus Christ.
Basically I’m writing a book about truth and what matters- especially compared to the dreams in our heads.
Because of course, I struggle in this area. In the back of my head, looms a movie reel. The one currently playing includes a pivotal scene where some angelic-like editor looks over my book proposal and calls me within hours of receiving my email, with a happy plea, “Don’t send it anywhere else. We want to publish this!”
Then somewhere in that dream there’s a trip to New York involved, a book tour, a meeting with Francis and Lisa Chan and…
I love dreaming.
But my idealistic dreams have a funny way of setting me up for disappointments sometimes.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever put a lot of pressure on yourself because of some dream in your head? Have you ever realized the road you believed you were supposed to be on wasn’t just lined with gutters of insecurity and pride, it was also lined with thorns of unrealistic expectations?
It’s so easy to get caught up in these suckers: Expectations we put on ourselves. Expectations we put on our circumstances. Expectations we put on others…
When I’m caught there, in the thorns, and the train is coming straight at me, I have a choice.
I can cry out to Jesus and ask him to help me out of whatever situation I’ve got myself into, or I can create a whirlwind of crazy and pain because I just don’t want to let go of my dreams.
So, tonight as I write this, partly for myself- partly as encouragement for whoever is reading this- I am reminding myself of truth. If you are pursuing something in your life, consider asking yourself these questions too:
1. Have you surrendered whatever it is you feel called to do? If God calls you to it, he will be faithful to complete it according to his will. The outcome belongs to him. Our jobs are just to be obedient.
2. What matters most? Do I know what my mission is? For me, my relationship with God is the most important relationship of my life. Am I actually making time for him? Am I giving the best to him?
3. Being obedient means keeping priorities straight. Do I love the people in my life well and with intention? Am I being present with them?
4. Are there creative ways of handling the things that don’t matter as much?
5. Are there things in my life that don’t belong there? How much time am I wasting on things that don’t really matter at all?
So for me, I am going to start seriously praying about that December date. I need to ask God if I have to let that expectation go. And it’s not an easy surrender.
In the back of my mind is this very real dream of giving my book to my grandma. When I was a little girl, she told me she knew she could tell people I was an author one day. My mom told me not to put that pressure on myself. But I have wanted to see that dream come true. Even if the copy I could give her at Christmas time was just a binder of white copy paper and paper clips- I would love to do that for my grandma. There’s part of me that’s afraid of not finishing in time. But as a wise older friend recently reminded me, the opposite of fear is not courage. It’s love. Jesus, help me let go and love.
Since college, my mission statement has been to love God and love people. Nothing else really matters. I want to live like that. On most mornings, Brian and I read my grandpa’s old Bible and pray together. It’s been transformative in our marriage. But maybe, I need to take just as much time for a regular quiet time alone with my savior. Every time I set that time aside, he is faithful to reveal things to me in his Word. My soul thirsts for that sacred space every day.
On school days, I want to put the computer away for the few precious moments I have with the kids when they get home from school or get up from their naps. I desire to be present with them.
I may need to sacrifice my coffee shop addiction and consider investing in a housekeeper a couple times a month to help keep the crazy under control. Maybe the kids and I can have a purge party of old toys, clothes, and clutter before the holidays.
I want to set aside the social media time for a certain timeframe and stick to it. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube… These are all great tools but they can become total time and energy sucks.
So if you’re still reading this and you’re thinking, “Gee whiz, I’ve got this life thing down better than this crazy girl!” Well, LOL, pat yourself on the back and I hope I’ve made you feel better with my honest confession here. But if you find yourself feeling like you’re standing in the middle of a train track about to be hit, or walking on a path constantly getting stuck by the sticker bushes, take heart.
You’re not alone.
There’s hope for us. Keep on your journey. But first, don’t be afraid to stop and ask Jesus for help in removing some of those expectation thorns and diverting the freight train. It’s no fun to walk with an unnecessary limp or fear when the Master of the Universe wants to heal your wounds and set you on your way again.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5&6