So press on, dear friends

I’ve started working on my second novel. I wrote my first one a few months back. It took me about four months to hammer out the 75,000-ish word novel. I haven’t really touched it since writing the last few words. At the time, I figured it wasn’t really worth doing anything with because it’s not very good. Because it’s not sellable right now. As is. As a first draft.

This, I know, is completely ridiculous. NOBODY writes a sellable first draft of a first novel. Or any novel for that matter.

It’s taken some time, but I have circled back to it and begun the editing process, which is more difficult than I expected it to be. In a way, I expected editing ease to take over when I started editing my novel because I really enjoy editing. It’s kinda my gig. I have people who consistently ask me to edit stuff for them and I really enjoy doing that.  Turns out editing your own work is an entirely different animal. Who knew?

So I’m struggling a bit with editing novel one. I’m struggling a bit with where to go with novel two.  I’m realizing that novel three, a potential collaboration, is just collecting dust because we’re both working on multiple other projects. Surprisingly, it’s all a little discouraging to me. Despite what I know in my head, I feel like writing should just be easier. Like it should just flow from my fingers the way my blog posts often do. Like somehow it should be effortless.

This is not true and in my head, I know this. It’s hard. Just like everything else. If it were effortless, everyone would do it and there would be no market for creative work because everybody would be producing creative work. Yes, there are moments of brilliant ease, but for the most part, it’s discipline (with which I already struggle), it’s work, it’s pursuit, it’s pushing through, it’s pressing on. It’s just a lot like life, isn’t it?

I know these little lumps and bumps, this season of discouragement, won’t last long and soon I’ll be back up on my horse, pounding away at the keys, deleting this and that, refining, adding, changing, morphing. The same way God works on us, deleting this and that, refining, adding, changing, morphing.

Speaking of, I’ve been trying to read 30 books of the Bible this year (I’m halfway there!) and as I’m going through the New Testament, the idea that continually pops up is the idea of community. Early in the NT, the emphasis is really on community – the community Jesus built around himself, the community of the new believers in the house churches, the community recorded in Acts and Romans, the community Paul cultivated in his church plants – there is a lot about community there.

I know I’m jumping around in my ideas a lot here, but stick with me.

So, community. We all know that life is meant to be lived in a community. Different parts of life require different communities. I’m trying to build up a spiritual community, a mom community, and a writing community all at the same time. These pursuits in my life are especially difficult and so in order to press on, I need others around me who are moving in the same direction. People I can encourage, people who can encourage me, people who can just live life together.

It is a painfully slow process.

Perhaps it’s part of this refining, adding, changing, morphing idea. Patience. It’s a long slow process and it takes perseverance. Just like writing. Just like training for a marathon. Just like everything in life that takes more than a minute to complete.

I have a friend who confided in me that she was struggling and had a bit of a plan, but she didn’t really know what to do about a first step. So we talked a little bit about it, I gave some advice and then I told her I would pray about it for her. I was excited for her. We both thought it was a pretty good idea, a decent plan. I finally got around to praying for her (it took me a few days) and I really went for it. I prayed for an hour (another 30 30 goal). I realized something through my prayer conversation and after I reached out to her with my realization. I admitted I could be completely wrong, but I suspected that what she needed more than this plan was community, for someone to really see her.

This day to day business of momming is really hard. It’s easy to feel unseen. It’s natural to think about ways to be seen (blogging anyone?? Haha!) by others. It’s easy to fantasize about other ways to be noticed by other people. It’s easy to see where our sense of community falls short.

People like to romanticize the good old days, when neighborhood kids played together and women gathered at the washing building and talked and everyone just got along and if you were neighbors, you were friends because people were just friendlier back then. I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t think people were necessarily friendlier, I think the desperation of being home all the time drove it. If you had young kids and five other families on your block had young kids and all the mothers were home all the time, I think it’s only natural that eventually the kids would befriend and so would the mothers. The drive to build up a support system is strong and the need for others to understand where you are in life is deep. It wasn’t perfect then just like it isn’t perfect now.

So, friends, I know life is tough. We all have spots where we struggle, whether it’s weight or loneliness or writing or running or working or our marriage or our kids or our finances. We all struggle from time to time to press on, to persevere, to take hold, to push through. We all feel that despair in our hearts and souls, like no one cares, like no one sees us, like nothing will change.

The truth is, though, God has a plan for your life and for mine. He has uniquely equipped us with skills, with talents, passions, and desires. He gives us trials to grow us. He heats up life around us to refine us. It’s a slow and painful process sometimes, but we need to press on. To depend on God for strength. To know there is a reason for our lives. That what we love to do is not an accident. That we are created on purpose.

Press on, friends, and take hold of the life God has intended for you.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  –Philippians 3:12-14