I. Am. In. Heaven.
My kids left this afternoon on a trip with my parents. My husband is on a business appointment. And I am home alone in a quiet house—with no one to carpool, no deadlines pressing and no interruptions. Just Tess and I hanging out—relaxed and carefree. (Although pretty much every day for our adorable yellow lab is stress-free and chill.) But, I do think she looks particularly pleased as she’s laying at my feet.
It’s been a long while since I’ve had this kind of solitude. And my heart is happy. I need this.
Plus, I’ve exercised, I’ve showered and the laundry is done. Even the dinner menu is planned. (Who says God doesn't do miracles!) So, what was the first order of business? To curl up on my favorite loveseat and finish my latest book…and enjoy a mini-catnap.
Now I’m reviewing my notes from the writers’ conference last week and planning my next writing steps. From top to bottom, the conference was a great experience. I have a book idea brewing and proposed the concept to a few editors/agents/publishers. Part of me wanted them all to say, “Forget it. It’s been done. Your idea is stale. There’s no market for it. You don’t have what it takes.” Seriously. I see how much of an uphill struggle book publishing is, and a big part of me says, Why would any sane person pursue that road?!
But the writing professionals didn’t dissuade me. In fact one of them said my idea was the only one that excited him from the entire conference. Of course, I was flattered and encouraged, but needed to remind myself that I haven’t even written one sentence of said book yet!
The whole experience made me question my gifts, my calling and my next steps. How does God want me to proceed? What gifts should I develop them more fully? Should I concentrate on ministry or look for paying opportunities? Should I stay in my small arena where it’s safe and relative success is guaranteed or venture out into the unknown and risk catastrophic failure?
I say I like adventure, and I do, but there is so much that scares and intimidates me about taking a next step. My weaknesses seem a glaring liability—my deficiencies a brick wall. I look around and see so many writers who write with far greater skill, humor, compassion and eloquence. I see writers who love the spotlight and speaking and platform-building (necessary for authors). I visit websites and blogs that show lives and families that resemble pages from the latest JCrew, Pottery Barn or Gourmet magazines. Who lives this way?
I hear the message, Only the exceptional need apply.
I know this mindset is a thorn (certainly one of many) in my side. And I know the enemy wants me to marinate in these feelings of inadequacy. But part of me believes I’m right— that I’m not good enough. That I don’t measure up. And that while I may be lots of things, exceptional isn’t one of them.
Thankfully, the Bible is filled with stories of unlikely, unwilling and unqualified people through whom God did great things. I call to mind the promise of the cross. If Jesus lived, died and conquered death, surely He can slay the demons of doubt that infest me. Surely He can fulfill His purpose in me, regardless of my confidence in the matter.
And He can do the same with you. I don’t know where your confidence lies right now or what insecurities plague you. I don’t know why women especially, struggle with feelings of inadequacy. But so many of us do.
But Jesus is our hope. He is our strength. And He is our peace. His grace covers our weakness, and overcomes the voice in our head and the lies of this world. “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:32-33, The Message)
I take these words to heart. I drink in their truth and promise. I press on, reaffirmed that I'm not going it alone. And I offer up a prayer of thanks for the gifts God's given me—starting with a blissfully, quiet house.