We’ve all had the conversation, what would you do for a living if you didn’t have to worry about how much it paid? I remember having this conversation with a few co-workers about ten years ago. I surprised myself with my answer. I said I would be an author and public speaker. When asked what my book would be about I replied that I had no idea.
When I thought about writing a book and what it’s story line would be, I imagined a nice christian story reflecting those similar to Francine Rivers or Lynn Austin. When I tried to write such stories I would find it impossible to put words together. However, despite the maddening frustration of writers block was, there was an innate knowing in me that I would eventually write a book, I just had no idea what about.
Fast forward a bunch of years and life hit a lot of unexpected turns, potholes and road bumps the size of a Volkswagen. My story was forming. Writers block wasn’t occurring in me because I couldn’t develop characters in my mind, I was the character who was needing to go through a season of development. It was recommended to me by a couple counsellors to write out what I was going through as a form of process. After hearing numerous friends and family telling me over the years to write a book, this counselling advice resonated with me.
Sitting down to write your own story is a funny thing. You think through all the books you’ve read and all the points that made it interesting. Suddenly, your own story seems like a lame B-list movie no one would watch. I decided to approach the whole process more like a conversation. Sitting in a coffee shop at the time I imagined a stranger sitting across from me waiting to hear my story. I thought about what they would need to know about me in order to understand my whole story. What were the foundational things I believed, lived through or understood about myself that made me, me?
The chapters flowed a lot easier than I expected, and before too long I had written a whole book. The thought of publishing hadn’t really been on my radar until I was near done and believed I had really written something worth while. Something that could help others who had been through similar things, or experiences that had really challenged their faith.
Steady in the Storm is a memoir, but more than that it is an opportunity to hear that you are not alone in your journey or experiences. The church can be slow to learn and it seems we are finally ready to accept the fact that we are all broken with a story to share. We are realizing that we do not need to be prisoner to the shame surrounding our stories, but can use our stories as the empathetic remedy to shame.
I don’t claim to be an expert. They say you teach what you most need to learn. I think this means you teach what you’ve been through, and we are all on a journey that will last the duration of our lives. In the editing process of my book, re-reading chapter after chapter, I would read my own writing and think of how I should heed my own advice. When thinking of someone who speaks into my own life, I would much rather hear from someone who hasn’t figured it all out, but is working on it, than someone who claims to know all the answers.
After publishing my first book I did think about writing another one, but again, had no idea what it would be about. Whenever I thought about writing another book I would think about all the devotional books I had picked up over the years, and the equal number of devotional books that I cast aside in frustration, feeling they lacked authenticity and the true struggle of holding the faith.
Outside of teaching what you most need to hear, the second most popular reason to create something is to fill a void in the market. I have honestly never found a devotional that speaks to the raw journey of faith. Most devotionals are covered in beautiful images and platitudes talking about how virtuous we should all be, and how seemly easy it should be for you.
In reality, faith, hope and love are a lot harder to maintain when life is coming at you from all sides. I wrote Being Tenacious for past Shonah, the Shonah who was in the midst of a storm needing to hear that what she was going through was impossible, but she was doing it, going through it, one day at a time. The Shonah that needed to hear that her small efforts were seen and, indeed, making a difference. I also knew there were other’s out there needing to hear the same.
Each entry of Being Tenacious went through a vetting process; is this something I needed to hear in the midst of my storm? Is it applicable to a variety of trials? Is it Biblical? Is it going to encourage someone to keep the faith? If I could get it past these questions I put it in the book.
The other thing that drives me nuts about devotionals is the structured reading; 30 day devotionals, 90 days with Jesus, on year of . . . – It’s not that easy. The day one reading of these books might make sense the day you pick up the book, but is every reading going to meet you where you’re at on the exact day you are expected to read it? Probably not. Being Tenacious was designed from the perspective that life is messy, and today might be ok, but tomorrow might not be. Instead of reading the next ordered reading, Being Tenacious encourages you to choose a resonating topic and a reading from that topic, bouncing around the book in the way life bounces around you.
Neither of these books are the nice, christian story I thought I would write, but they are authentic real life, gritty and hopeful. Life does not play out as we might predict, but God’s goodness is true throughout it all.
My desire behind publishing was to find others in the midst of faith-altering chaos to tell them that I know what that feels like. It’s not my desire to paint them an unrealistic picture of life, making unrealistic promises of beautiful endings, but to tell them they can do whatever it is they are going through and that God is still good in the midst.
Going through trials might be terrifying to us, but God is not moved. He is more interested in our character and refining us into gold than he is sheltering us from trials and moments of equipping. Trusting him in these moments is the hardest part of it all, which is why I decided to write my books.