Five years ago I was sitting on a 30 year old sofa by dim lamplight, whining to God that there must be something else I could do besides babysitting the elderly all night long. Something else where I wouldn’t have to have my sleeping schedule so cockeyed in order to do my part in providing for our family. Something where my ten year old wouldn’t be so devastated every time I left before her bedtime. Where my daughter with special needs wouldn’t sit by the door after I had gone and cry. She never cries. Please God. There must be something else, but I don’t even know where to start to look or what I qualify for.
And then these words floated through my consciousness: Write a book.
What? Write a book? ME? About what? The only thing I had any knowledge about was my own life — ohhhh crap. Panic set in. I don’t know how to write a book! I’m not smart enough! It’s too complicated. Besides, everybody and their dog thinks they have something to write a book about .
So, I decided to meet God halfway and write a blog instead.
Right. Because that’s what He really meant. (Sarcasm is dripping here)
Some time passed and I begin to feel the weight of the difference between what I was doing and what I knew I’d heard. So I attempted to write a book. It sucked. Dry. Lifeless. Boring.
I cried again. God, do you really want me to write a book? Because if so, I need a sign and some serious help. The next day I received an invitation to join a small group of writers from my church where we would create a sanctuary to write and grow and help each other along on our quests. I was so moved, and frightened, and excited all at once.
Over the next few months I proceeded to vomit my personal story onto paper, bringing a new section of it to our biweekly meetings. It was much like reaching deep into my guts and ripping out an abscess with my own hands. Dramatic, I know, but it hurt like the dickens and left me kind of achey until I was able to put more words onto the page for the next round.
When I had finally come to the most up-to-date parts of my life, I felt shock. This was my life, right here in black and white, and it wasn’t finished. No pretty bow to wrap up all the nasty stuff I had endured up until now. I was so disappointed because I had believed that God was going to bring beauty out of my ashes, my mess, my heartache, but the last ten years of working to save my marriage had failed. I walked around heavy hearted for nearly a month until I finally bit the bullet and made myself a counseling appointment with someone I had never been to before. I needed this person to give it to me straight; I didn’t want to spend an entire first session rehashing all the events that have made up my existence, to return the following week and have him ask me how I feel… I needed some shoot from the hip kind of help. And I got it.
No sooner had I sat down and exchanged pleasantries with my new ally, than this question came out of nowhere: Do you know what co-dependency is? Gulp. No, not really. When the dust in my brain began to settle after perusing the information sheet he handed me, I was ready to bust out of my prison and run for the hills. “Hang on,” he says, “I suggest you don’t do anything but sit on your hands for about a year.” Ugh.
It took nearly two years of attending al-anon groups, counseling, and growing for me to understand the pattern my life had taken shape by, and to finally break free. The decision to file for divorce was monumental because it reeked of failure, but I was finally free from condemnation. My marriage was broken, and there was nothing more I could do to save it. The fear I had felt about how I was to survive as a single mom when my husband had first left ten years prior was no longer there. My trust was no longer in a man, in unhealthy amounts, but in my God, where it belonged. And He was showing me the strength He had blessed me with.
But I was still desperate to know what in the world I was to do with my ‘book’. Come on, now. I did what you said to do, God, so why am I still working at this same job? And slowly, but surely, He began to unclench my fists while washing me with His devotion; teaching me to trust no matter my circumstances. Persuading me that I am free from all that encumbers, like worry about finances or the next stupid thing my ex would do. He has been filling my lamp with oil so that I can see Him no matter my circumstances. He has proven to me that He loves me and provides for me, is championing me, and is preparing me for more.
In short: I understand now that the admonition to write a book was more for me to come to terms with my life and the brokenness of it at the time, than it was to ensure a new vocation. I needed to be able to see it through my own eyes/words, and be able to process it as only I can. What a gentleman, God is. How kind, and patient.
I am grateful for my job, especially now that I am on day shifts. I am grateful for my home, for my daughters, for my friends, for my church, and for the people I get to encourage everyday. And my future is in His very capable hands as He continues to work in and through me on a daily basis. There’s the beauty I was looking for.
I’m thinking I have learned to be content in all things.
Cool beans. Me and Paul should talk.