Right now I'm sitting outside on a Starbucks patio -- ON PURPOSE. It's Labor Day weekend and fall is in the air. It's cool, there's a breeze, and I have my first pumpkin-spice something of the season. It's nice to want to be outside again.
It's also nice to want to write. Sometimes I write out of discipline; other times the words flow directly out of my circumstances, lending me yet another opportunity to expose the the world to the freak show that is my life, hopefully encouraging the lookers-on in the process.
Tonight my words are birthed from a different source and carry a different purpose. Tonight my words are for me, and they're from my soul. You know it's soul writing when the words are burning like fire in your heart, desperate to make their way out of the inferno and onto the (digital) page.
I've been struggling the last few weeks, and I can clearly see Satan's tactics playing out around me as he desperately attempts to drag me down. He wants me and my ministry. He knows he's not going to have me, but that sure doesn't stop him from trying.
Words to describe how I've felt lately.
Did I mention I've felt overwhelmed?
I've worked harder this year than I've ever worked in my life. I've focused on the building my ministry and the publishing of my first book, and I've bounced back and forth between self publishing and gaining an agent's representation to shop my manuscript to traditional publishing houses. I've received fantastic advice from qualified, smart, eager-to-help people, and the advice has been all over the map.
I've felt confused. Do I wait to publish and hold out for a publishing deal with Zondervan or something of the like? Do I forge my own trail, navigating the world of self publishing, which is uber popular these days?
To move or not to move? To change my manuscript to suit publishers or not to change my manuscript, continuing to pursue the original dream and vision God placed in my heart when He told me to write #FeelFreeToLaugh?
I've started booking speaking engagements, and my writing has been featured on a national level many times. I've tried to navigate the somewhat-mysterious world of social media, and to be my own advocate while at the same time allowing God to ultimately be the one who builds my platform.
I think I could work all day every day and still feel like I'm not doing enough.
There were several months where I saw the momentum growing, and I saw my ministry growing. And now, for the last several weeks...crickets.
Don't misunderstand--I've still been working, preparing talks and finishing the final round of edits on my manuscript (did I mention I've decided to self publish?). I've been diligent, but when I'm not seeing the fruit of my labor like I have been over the last several months, it's easy to grow discouraged.
I've doubted myself, my calling. I am so much more fragile that I like to admit. The second things grow remotely quiet, I start to second guess everything I know God has shown me.
Tonight I did something totally out of character for me. My husband stayed home with the kids, and I decided to get out for the evening, alone.
My first stop? The movie theater.
I love movies, but I never go see them in the theater. I especially don't go see movies alone. I'm cheap, and I always promise myself I'll make sure to see the flicks I'm looking forward to once they hit my local Redbox. Which I then don't do.
Tonight, I did it, though. I took in a movie solo, and I somehow ended up seated next next to a creepy old man who had a scarf wrapped around his lower face for most of the movie, hacking a wet cough every 30 seconds or so.
I've wanted to see Florence Foster Jenkins, Meryl Streep's new movie about a woman who is quite possibly the world's worst singer, for some time, and it's like my car drove itself to the theater and the decision was made. That was that.
It was a great movie. Based on real events, it was funny, especially to a seasoned singer like me. Meryl just killed it as the lovable FFJ, a woman who lived for music and loved it with every fiber of her being. Florence lacked talent, yes, and she was without a good amount of self awareness, but boy, did she love to sing. Because she had money, she would rent out concert halls and record albums, even though she was just awful. The most amazing part? People bought tickets to hear her sing! Her love for music and her sweet spirit gained her quite a following, and she even went so far as to sing a concert at Carnegie Hall (a concert that went down as the worst in the venue's history). To this day, her playbill is the most requested relic at Carnegie.
Florence Foster Jenkins had spunk. What I loved about her most of all was that when she had an idea, she didn't hesitate to act on it. She simply went for it with full gusto, and she wasn't afraid of failure. She walked in confidence.
I want to be like Florence Foster Jenkins.
I'm not going to be the best writer, the best blogger, the best speaker. If that's what I'm aiming for, I'll be sorely let down, and on repeat. In a world of Beth Moores and Lysa TerKeursts and Jen Hatmakers and Ann Voskamps, it's easy to feel like I should shut down the website and call off the publishing of #FF2L. After all, who can compete with the brilliant material that's out there, already at everyone's fingertips.
I worry--what if I'm like Florence, lacking self awareness and unaware that my ministry melody is severely off key?
I worry--what if I'm not like Florence, and I miss the chance to pour out the words and the truths that make my heart come alive and speak life into others?
I love words. I love to write them, and I love to speak them. I love to bring words to weary, hurting women, to speak them over the broken and needy. Do I have the perfect words? No. Do I know the One who has the perfect thing to say, every time? Yes.
As I've felt the Lord propelling me forward in my ministry, I've struggled with finding the balance between putting myself out there and being an icky self promoter. The words the Lord kept speaking to my heart were HUMBLE CONFIDENCE.
He is calling me to walk forward in humble confidence. He's calling you to walk forward in humble confidence into whatever He's calling you too, also.
Where God calls us, He makes a way. He only needs us to move ahead in confidence.
Sometimes we think about things too much and don't do things enough.
At the end of the movie, as Florence (SPOILER ALERT) is on her deathbed, she utters an unforgettable phrase to her husband:
May we all be like Florence, and may no one ever be able to say that we didn't sing.