Thursday, September 10, 2009

God May Know What He Is Doing, But Am I Helping or Hindering?

A recent thread on the ACFW e-loop is titled: God Knows What He Is Doing. I've read a couple of the responses and totally agree that God knows what He wants and has in store for each of us, and attending or not attending the upcoming ACFW conference isn't going to change His plans. He is the maker of miracles after all.

But just reading the subject line and forgetting the context to which it is really about, I must say that I bear a heavy heart in response to God Knows What He Is Doing. I can't help thinking that I'm hindering His work as of late, rather than helping Him. And I do believe that in all that God blesses us with, He often requires something from us too. The end gift is not all He intends to bestow on each of us, but a greater learning/understanding is also part of the package, and I have no doubt that my ever-faithful Father is more than patient in waiting for me to get that learning/understanding right before He'll generously bestow the end gift upon me. Am I alone in this thought process?

Say, since most of you reading this blog are writers, the end gift is publication which God intends to bestow on at least a few of us (here's the hopeful me surmising here), then what? Are we set? Is it ALL in God's hands? Is the onus on Him to get the gears in motion so that publication shall be achieved?

Surely not.

Surely, as any mother or father knows, this is a tremendous TEACHING moment. The prize of publication cannot be just handed over without being earned in some way. God so wants to pass this gift over, but alas, he must wait until we are ready for it. The driving instructor/tester doesn't hand over the prize driver's license just because the time has come, the end of the driving test has arrived, does he? No, he must first see that the student driver is ready for the responsibility of every life that might come in contact with him/her on the roads he/she chooses to travel from this day forward. The student driver needs to earn the tester's trust before he/she is deemed ready. And the tester will withhold the license for not only the safety of the student driver, but for everyone else, if need be.

As it is with writing, I assume. And I can't help but feel as though I've been failing my Lord's testing as of late in the writing category of life at least. Failure isn't a word I like to think about, or associate with me, but lately it's one that's been haunting my thought process.

In preparing my book proposal package for the conference, I happened to read over the recent query letter I sent out to my dream publisher in August and realized I'd failed big time. I had stated in that query that I would be pitching my newest book, The Unlikely One, the book that is a finalist in the Genesis contemporary category this year, at the conference. Well, guess what? It isn't ready. As I type this post I'm about 13,000 words away from finishing my first draft and definitely a few revision rounds and many edits away from being ready to submit this novel to anyone in the publishing industry.

So, I've not only failed to keep my end of the bargain to this publisher who may or may not like my writing anyway, but that's not the point, I've failed to make the most of this upcoming conference even before it even gets here. Yes, I have another completed manuscript to pitch, but I really wanted to take advantage of being a finalist with this ms and pitch it. Show how I could indeed get a second manuscript primed and ready for pitching in a reasonable amount of time. But instead, family, and summer activities with them, consumed my time and here I sit, manuscript unfinished.

It is possible to finish the first draft before conference, even with it being only one week away, but that isn't enough, and I'm kicking myself for it. Lost opportunity rings like a jingle in my ears, taunting me and flashing $$$$$$$$, yes, dollar signs in my vision. My family has invested a lot into this conference and now I feel like I not only failed myself, but them as well. So what do I do?

What any God fearing woman would. Right. I look for what I've done right, and what I have left to still gain from this conference experience, and move forward from there. I write the best book proposal I can for the novel I do have finished. I prepare to pitch it for God's glory. God has presented me with a chance to pitch my first novel, one that incidentally is very near and dear to me still, even after six years of labour pains with it, and I will do my absolute best to not disappoint Him in that area too. I may not have the two novels to pitch that I so wanted, and God may be disappointed with me in that, but I know He'd want me to at least take advantage of this opportunity and pitch this one.

I will gather all that I need for the early bird session on the book that I haven't quite finished with the intention of having the amazing Donald Maass and all his wonderful teaching help me plan my revisions so that I can make it as close to a breakout novel as is possible for me.

And I'll do my utmost to shine His Little Light through every action, word, and deed that transpires through me during the time I have at the ACFW conference. I will accept God's wonderful grace and blessings in attending this conference and make the most of it so that He can keep on teaching me and helping me move forward toward that ultimate gift that He may or may not be patiently waiting to present to me...when I'm ready. I will do all this because He is the reason I write in the first, middle and last place. God inspired this journey in me, and even though I may hinder His process along the way, He is ever faithful and would want me to push onward for His purpose. I'm so glad He is eons more patient and forgiving than me!

Surrendering to Him,



Jessica said...

Eons more is excellent phrasing to use!!!! I so hear you on the hindering thing. I really, really want to write and have this is as my career, and though I don't hear any no's coming from God, I also don't hear a huge yes. So I worry that maybe I'm not doing the right thing.
But when I get overwhelmed thinking about how I might be messing things up, I try to remember how huge God is, and how huge His plans are, and that I'm formed from dirt. LOL No worries girl. You might feel like you've failed, but maybe this fits right into God's plan for you? Maybe the publisher isn't looking for the story you planned to pitch but needs the one you have ready? You never know....
Either way, like you said it's going to be a wonderful, learning experience for us. :-)

Tabitha Bird said...

My personal take on God and His greatness is that I think He is actually WAAAAYY too big for me to seriously get in the way and stuff up His plans for me. Sure, I have to make good choices and do my best with what He has given me, but He knows only too well that I am human. and thus prone to stuffing up. I like to think that is when His grace is sufficient. I once got so busy with life that I missed a perfect opportunity to apply for my dream job. I just didn't get my application together in time. I prayed about it. Told God that I was really sorry cause I fet like I had stuffed up a great thing. And you know what, that school rang me up cause they heard on the grape vine that I was looking for a teaching position. I got the job without ever having completed the application. God doesn't always work like that I know, but He is a REALLY big God who wants us to get where He wants us to go a way lot more than we want to get there. Which means He is well able to get us there ... even when we stuff up.
So hugs to you you, I am sure you will do your best from this point and trust the God you serve to do this rest. That's my thoughts anyway :) Hope they are helpful in some small way :)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

And you will shine, too. Lean into his power and bring your gift and it will be a meaningful event no matter what.
~ Wendy

Stephanie Faris said...

I think what we have to realize is that we only control certain things. We can only control what WE do to make getting published happen. Every day, if you're working toward that goal, doing all you can, in the end you can only be happy with with that.

That old adage "God helps those who help themselves" is true. Sure, God has a plan for you, but you also have to put the work in to make it happen.

Keli Gwyn said...

Eileen, I hope you're able to enjoy the conference experience. Although you wanted the story done and ready to pitch, it may be God has a different plan. If He wants the story in print, He'll help you find a way--in His time.

That said, I'm sorry you're experiencing feelings of disappointment and doubt. It may help to remember that very few contract offers are made at conferences. You may still be able to secure requests for that story though.

I went to my last conference with nothing ready to pitch, and yet I received a request to send my story when it's finished from an agent with whom I dined. God can use any situation to further His plans. And when He works in such unexpected ways, we have the joy of seeing His hand in our lives and rejoicing.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

eileen - you have the best attitude about this year's conference! wow. i think it's great that you have a MS to pitch...this shows your diligence in this area. and it might benefit you more than you think, b/c you'll be able to tell them you're so close to finishing your genesis finalist MS, as well....that'll make them pay attention! i can't wait to meet you. :)

The Character Therapist

Lazy Writer said...

I agree with Jeannie. You have a completed ms and an almost complete one. That's great! Go enjoy the conference and get out of it what you can.

T. Anne said...

We are all like Job in that we are not privy to his bigger picture. Go to the conference, miracles could be waiting for you.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hi, Eileen! It really does sound like you have a great plan and that the conference will be really beneficial for you. Go with you head held high--you are a writer and you deserve to be there (and not just because you paid for it!) Have fun for me... maybe one day I'll be able to see you there!

Faith said...

Hi, Eileen! I hear what you're saying... and I think more often than not, I let failures get in the way of me moving forward. I really needed to hear these words today... I'm tired of disappointing God. I need to make the most of what I've been given and just push through. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the right thing, trying to write... but I haven't heard a resounding 'no', and the desire has been there for as long as I can remember it... but what am I doing with it? Definitely not enough. I've got to stop thinking in terms of "me" and get focused again on pleasing God with the gifts He's given me.

All the best at the conference. I know you can turn this disappointment around and use it for His glory. :)

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh I loved the comments to your post:) I really think sometimes we are are own worst enemies. I was reading what you wrote and was happy to see how you ended it that you will give this all to the Lord and go with what you do have ready. Let God work out all the details--I know you worked hard this summer even through what you've blogged about but time with family is soooo important too!

Diane said...

All will work out with God's grace and mercy. Keep persevering! :O)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Eileen -

Conferences don't always work out the way we hoped. I keep thinking about how Thomas Edison experienced so many failures in making the first lightbulb. He didn't give up, but used the failures as a steppingstone to what did work. As we all know, he eventually succeeded.

Your fine attitude is an inspiration to me. Thank you.

Susan :)

Pamela J said...

This can be a very humbling experience since the statement that your ms would be ready, yet it is not. God gives grace to the humble and He also resists the proud. James 4:6 Now, I'd say you are in a place He wants you instead of what you wanted. Go forth in Him.

It also seems you chose what was more important, and that is your "family and summer activities with them" Matthew 25:21 teaches about being faithful over what you do have before more will be given.

I am expecting, for you, that God will do His great and glorious work in your life. Perhaps not quite like you plan but as He plans. To Him be all the glory!

Have a great time at the conference. I still don't know if I'll get to go to meet more exciting/excited authors/authors-to-be, my work schedule has not been posted for next week yet.

Pam Williams

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Eileen,

I just know something good will come out of this conference for you. Like Keli said, you never know who you might meet or have dinner with!

Btw, did you read Julie Lessman's post on Seekerville about her experience at the conference a few years ago? You should check it out (earlier this week). She's so funny.

Just wanted to wish you the best of luck and all good things! If nothing else, have FUN!!