Last night I was minding my business, prepping for some pieces of the first session of our church's women's conference. I had a quick moment to myself and decided to check my email. I shouldn't have done it, it wasn't a good time for email but that little red badge icon was poking at my OCD and so I opened the app. Then I really wished I had waited until later.
At the top of my inbox was a message from my publisher. Thinking it was a standard house keeping announcement, nothing major, I began to read the email only to find out that said publisher was closing its doors. That's right, at the worst moment on this particular Friday night my heart stopped for a brief second as I tried to take in the news that my publisher was going to be no more which meant my first book was going to go off shelf and my second wasn't going to make it to shelves to begin with. I can't even tell you how I felt in those few minutes because it was nothing and everything all at the same time.
Now, I know this may not seem like such a huge deal but my books are like my babies and they were losing their home, a home I loved. It felt a little like heartbreak.
Then it felt a lot like heartbreak and to make it worse it was over email. I mean, break ups should be in person where they have to look me in the eye and see me fight the tears right? We can all agree that break up texts (or emails) are not cool man. (To be fair, I do know that my publisher couldn't possibly break up with all of its authors across multiple imprints face to face, but I think you get the emotion of it all and will allow me the few seconds that I wallowed in self pity, frustration and anger.)
Here's the thing, I did wallow. I'd like to say I didn't, that I was totally calm and full of faith but I wasn't. Internally I was shaken. This wasn't just about books and a publisher this was about the direction I felt like my life was heading, dreams that were coming to fruition, calling that was being walked out, and suddenly it all felt...well... gone.
Ever felt like that? The wind knocked out of your sails, the rug pulled out from under you, all the crap hitting the fan? (Insert your own cliche here.)
What do we do when that thing happens that shakes us up?
I think we have two options. The first is that we keep wallowing, we whine, we cry, we complain, we get angry and we stay there. Basically we decide that we are defeated and throw in the towel. We may not think it's what we are doing but we are. Somewhere inside we are listening to the voice telling us it was all for nothing, it will never be the same, just curl up and die already.
That option is the easy one. Not the fun one, but the easy one because we get to just sit and let it all happen to us. Don't pick that option. That option gets you nowhere.
Option two is harder because we have to do something. Option two requires us to fight. What are we fighting? It's not the people, or the publishers. I mean we can fight them but it would be pointless and out of wrong motives and really just put us back in option one and we've already decided option one is a no go.
We fight fear. We fight doubt. We fight panic. We fight worry.
The cool thing about being at a women's conference while all this was swirling around in my head and heart was that I got to sing songs that fueled my faith during worship and I got to laugh and roast s'mores with fun chicks, and I got to hear God's Word. The cool thing about God is He speaks exactly to where we are exactly when we need to hear it.
I heard my friend and pastor's wife tell me that the worst day ever often turns to our best day ever when we focus on God and do what He wants us to do. I heard my pastor speak of moments we are brought to for reasons beyond what we can see now.
He talked about Esther. (You can read her story if you don't know the gist, I mean girlfriend got a whole book in the Bible written about her so she was awesome.) Beyond her having a "such a time as this" moment something was said that really hit me in my "this publishing break up really sucks" moment. The book of Esther is ten chapters. No where in all those ten chapters is the name of God mentioned. It's the only book of the Bible that doesn't directly mention God. Weird right? But if you read it you can't help but see Him behind the scenes and between the lines. We often live in situations where we can't hear or see God, but He is there.
I may not know what God is doing behind the scenes right now for me, but I know that His word says that, "He works all things together for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
I love Him. I am called according to His purpose. He is working for my good. What that looks like I don't know. I wish I knew. I wish I had all of the answers and the plan handed to me on a laminated notecard so I could follow it easily. I don't. But I trust the One who does.
That is option two. And the only difference between walking it out and living in option one is where I turn my focus. I can focus on the problem, the pain, or I can focus on the God who called me. I can look at the mess around me and wonder what else can go wrong or I can look to Jesus and believe for the future He promised me.
Once upon a time I prayed for a publisher and did a happy dance when I opened that email acceptance. Now, well, there was no happy dancing when I opened that last email. But the God of my past is also the God of my future. To paraphrase another author friend... last night I mourned. Tomorrow I will fight. Through it all I think I'm gonna happy dance anyway. (Option one has no dancing, another reason option two is totally better.)