A few weeks ago I went to the library for some quiet writing time. I got comfortable in my crazy geometric chair and waited while my laptop whirred to life. I turned my head and just let my eyes drift unfocused over the shelves behind me.
You know that technique in film-making in which the camera zooms in and dollies out? And it looks like the world is suddenly rushing past the stunned character while he or she is still? Well, that’s what that moment felt like. I saw each book as I see my own when I hold it — all the revolutions of rough drafts, the tears of frustration and grumbling over formatting, the many iterations of the cover image, the years of research I poured into it.
Each book has been cried over, laughed over, loved and hated, reworked, edited within an inch of its life, tossed in the trash and pulled out again, clothed in cover after cover until the perfect look is found. How many years of work are represented in these millions, billions of books? The ranks of silent words suddenly yelled at me of all the effort that has gone into making them appear on a library shelf for anybody to casually pick up, thumb through, or reject.
It left me breathless.
And my book is among them.
I felt honored. And now when I go to the library to write, I feel I am in good company.
Several months ago I discovered that I’m pregnant with my fifth child. The news came in the middle of the flu and viruses and colds, the last grinding months of homeschooling and preschool, and trying to make ourselves at home in a new church. I had felt like my circumstances were closing in around me like four blank walls, but I was determined to break through them. This tiny creature tipped the scales. All my dreams of spending more time writing, my dreams of using my gifts and awakening dormant talents, came crashing down. All my convictions and stubbornness and whatever else was keeping me going simply melted away. Those walls closed in firmly around me, and I was rendered powerless.
For months my heart was mute. Not even capable of crying out silently to God, let alone crying out for help from my friends and family. I felt like I had stepped out of a jungle into a desert, a harsh sunbaked place where silence reigned. God’s silence. My silence.
“Have I done something wrong?” I asked out of exasperation.
No, he answered.
That was all. Just no.
Then I realized I was angry — just plain fighting mad, and I was fighting everyone around me in an effort to break out of this place. My husband called me out for my bad attitude and negativity. Darn right, but I couldn’t seem to do anything about it.
A book called “Soul Craving” by Joel Warne gently drew my anger out of me. One chapter focused on Paul and his imprisonment — very tight circumstances. Literal four walls plus handcuffs. In that place Paul penned his letter to the Philippians, filled with reminders of joy. In that place, he had guards who were forced to listen to him preach the gospel. Paul’s message spread through that place, and so many accepted Jesus that he reported it a huge success in his letter.
The question Warne asked so gently is this: Are we available for God’s purposes, whatever they are and wherever they lead us?
Paul eagerly followed wherever the will of God led him, even into captivity. Simply because it was the will of the one he loved more than anything.
I have a purpose in life. God made me with different skills, abilities, talents, and he gave me wonderful gifts to use for him. I have been wanting so badly for him to continue using me and my gifts in the same ways he did last year. He’s not. Instead he led me into circumstances where he seems little inclined to use me at all. And I’ve been angry and frustrated.
But there is more to me than what I can do. There is an even higher purpose to my life than the calling that God has given me: Jesus. He lived and died for me so that the two of us could have that close relationship that was lost in Eden. He calls me “daughter,” “beloved,” a member in the body of Christ, and one day I will be so close to him there are no human words that can express our beautiful relationship!
I have lost my focus. There is nothing this bumbling woman can do now but Be. And maybe that is partly what this “confinement” is all about.
And is it any coincidence that I am now pregnant while writing about a pregnant woman? That once again my main character is dealing with the same issues I am?
I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. I think she and I will find our way through this together.