Getting started...sometimes that's the hardest part. I painted our front door this weekend. I've been thinking about it for months. I had wanted to do it last spring, but the temperature and humidity and my confidence never quite all aligned the way I needed them to. Changing our door from white to black seemed like a pretty bold move, and my fear of not doing it well kept me from starting the job.
This weekend I decided to just do it: the weather was too perfect
to pass up. I prepped the door, spread out my drop cloth and supplies, and wrestled my way through taping off the doorway with
a tarp in spite of a breezy start to the morning. And then the moment I had been avoiding for months came when I had to dip
my brush into the jet black paint and brush it on the stark white door. Once the bristles hit the door there was no turning back.
I was committed. So I did what I am growing accustomed to doing.
I kept going. I kept moving forward, smoothing out the drips, correcting my mistakes, and then patiently waiting for the paint
to dry. Then I honestly assessed my work, asked others to give their feedback, and determined my next steps, which in this case meant a second coat the next afternoon. The result is a shiny new door, and a splendid sense of satisfaction.
Getting started is often the hardest part of the process.
A few years ago, I decided to see a counselor to work through a trauma I experienced as a young girl. I didn't want to begin the process of remembering, of looking at what happened, and more importantly looking at how an incident thirty-some years ago was affecting me -- had been affecting me -- in significant ways. The pain was coming out sideways in my marriage, parenting, work relationships, and friendships.
And though it was very difficult to begin that process, it began my healing. I remember leaving after my first appointment with the therapist thinking, what did I do? I feel worse and more hopeless than ever. I don't think I am ever going to be okay again. I opened up a wound that is too big, too painful, and I've never felt more unwell.
But I believe pain is the pathway to healing. That the only reason God allows pain to get get stirred up in our lives is because He wants to heal us. So as I unwrapped what I had kept hidden for so very long, I kept telling myself, God must really want to heal me or He wouldn't be leading me down this road.
And two and a half years ago, after I had gone to a writers' conference, sent out my book proposal, and knocked on every door I knew to knock on, the hope of having my book published seemed dismal.
My friend, Steph, said, "Well, you've written it, though, right? I mean, you could publish it yourself. You did write it, didn't you?"
I told her that no, I hadn't written it. I had my drop cloth laid out with all my supplies, I had everything prepped and ready to go, but the thought of dipping my brush in the black paint and touching it to the white door was too scary. What if I couldn't do it? What if it was terrible? What if I failed?
The moment came when I had to start writing. I wrote more than I knew was in me. I told my story. And at what seemed like the twelfth hour, two publishers said yes within a week of each other. I said yes to one, and then they told me my manuscript was too short. I needed to double the length. Begin again?!?
My editor wrote, "Here comes the pep talk. I reviewed your book and think it is beautifully written. You've woven your story in with life lessons in such a way that the reader has learned and grown before they even realize it...Thank you for sharing your story. I have the feeling there is more beautiful material where this came from. Now's the time to dig deep and find it."
And so I began...again. And I wrote the rest of the story -- more than I knew I had in me.
It has been one year since the release of Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy. This process has been a gift, because I have grown and people have been helped. More than ever, I believe in the power of God to heal our hearts as we share our stories. Here are some of the comments I've received from readers, either in reviews or in my inbox. I cherish these words...
"Have you ever had a moment when you felt Gods hand on you, literally on you, telling you that you are understood and everything will be ok? I did just then. The first half of your book blew me away, not only your telling of your story, but of our parallels. You needed to write this not only for yourself, but clearly for others! I could literally list the similarities of your story to mine. Let’s just say you made me feel better and right at home. And no longer afraid, which I didn't know was possible." -- Kari
"I just finished your book and I wanted you to know how moving it was for me to read. I have struggled for years and years to find faith - I have not been able to take the leap and just let go to it. Your words and your mom's words have brought me to a place where I think I might be open to it again. " -- Lori
"Just finished. Wow! That was a lot of work for you! To live it, articulate it, portion it out, tie neat bows around each chapter....and discussion questions? It must have been like a kind of Mt Everest climb-beautiful, challenging, worthy, invigorating-but it could also kill you. Lol/not really.
I am appreciating all of the time that went into it. And that says nothing about the "heart mining" and vulnerability that went into the guts of this book.
All in all, it's not really about the "marathon runner" kind of endurance it took, or the writing skills necessary....it's about the love of God and the love of your mom, weaved together like a DNA strand and giving your readers a visual of life in and with Him. Thank you." -- Sue
God is the Master of begin. In the beginning God created...everything....out of nothing. In an epic display of creative power, He splashed color and texture and life and love. And He knows about beginning...again. Resurrection. Redemption. Restoration. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19) and Look, I am making everything new! (Revelation 21:5)
Today I am thanking God for supplying the courage to begin, the strength to persevere, and joy as we find healing and beauty in the midst of pain.
And I am beginning again...the process of pouring our my heart and splashing words on a screen. I am writing a book for moms -- a book to encourage, build up, and come alongside with humor, honesty, and grace. Stay tuned for updates! And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for walking this journey with me.
How about you? What are you beginning? A new project? A growth process? A new chapter? Or maybe you are beginning, again, a hard conversation, extending forgiveness to someone who hurt you, steps towards getting well, surrender. May you find courage and strength in the One who is making all things new.