I stepped in dog pee the other morning, just minutes after grumbling at my relentless alarm. It was the perfect sour cherry on top of what was shaping up to be a top-notch-awful-week sundae. Frustrations at work…laundry held hostage in the dryer…a master bedroom that housed my 8 year old on the floor in a sleeping bag most nights…friends whose birthdays came and went too quickly without a card making it into the mail…boxes of Girl Scout cookies left to sell…graying hair in need of coloring…a thickening waistline…and nagging deadlines for editing my first novel (that needs to be successful and renowned by all who read it – ha). It all swirled in my head with a dizzying effect.
My wet foot dripped and “You’ve got to be kidding me!” cries filled the otherwise serene, still-dark living room. Something had to give. And soon.
Later that day I sat in my car during my lunch break and brainstormed what I could do to simplify this overwhelming life. I eventually circled around to my writing. Maybe this just isn’t the season of life to realistically achieve the goal of publishing.
Part of my problem is constantly trying to decipher the mixed messages to women of our culture:
Your top priority should be raising independent, well-adjusted children.
You have both the right to be an working professional woman, and the responsibility to continue paving the way for the next generation.
While you should not feel obligated to wed, if you do then your spouse should feel desired, encouraged, and taken care of.
You need A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, and P name-brand products, but should also be able to find a way to be debt free and ready for retirement by the age of 40.
How in the world do we wade through all of these voices? While the little white ball called “balance” winds this way and that, ping-ponging between work, home, family, friends, education, professional enrichment, personal goals, and others’ expectations we grow tired. Dizzy. Unsure which way to look and for how long.
This passage from Present Over Perfect by Shawna Niequist struck a nerve.
I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In high school, I was biding my time until I could become the college version of myself, the one my mind could see so clearly. In college, the post-college “adult” person was always looming in front of me, smarter, stronger, more organized. Then the married person, then the person I’d become when we have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have waited to become the thin version of myself, because that’s when life will really begin.
Can you relate? For me, the life that has begun often doesn’t reflect the life I envisioned long ago. It’s more hectic. More demanding. More distracted. And, frankly, often less fulfilling.
My Plan for Taking Control
The lunch break in my car resulted in a plan. I didn’t want to give up being a good mom or wife or employee. My daughter needs me on my best game. My husband needs me to be less stressed and more attentive. My job deserves me to be more focused and dedicated.
So the writing can wait.
I made the decision sitting in the car that I’d find ways to write here and there whenever time presented itself. Just for fun. Maybe keep writing my short stories for my newsletters. But the book publishing would need to wait. It didn’t make the cut.
With a sigh of relief and to-do list suddenly much shorter, the week went on.
But something unexpected happened next.
The 30-Second Game Changer
Later that evening, after the kitchen was cleaned, homework was reviewed and fixed, bath time was overseen, and clothes were picked for the next day, my daughter called me into her room.
“Can I read you something, Mama?”
“Sure, but then it’s lights out.”
“Ok. I just wrote this…” She proceeded to read me a poem she’d written. It included metaphor, imagery, emotion, and a simple plot. It was good. My tired, overwhelmed heart flipped.
“Honey, that’s really good. I mean, really good.”
Then the kicker.
“I get it now. Why you write. This feels amazing. And I can’t wait for your book to come out,” she said with and understanding in her eyes that stopped me dead in my tracks.
In the simple 30-second exchange with my daughter over a six-line poem written in pencil in a ratty journal, the plan I’d made earlier in the day to give up writing suddenly didn’t make sense.
Publishing this book isn’t just a self-indulgence. Not just a hobby I’d love to share with others. It has purpose, meaning beyond my own desires. The process, not just the end result, is important for my daughter to see me go through – not for the struggle, but in spite of it. This renewed awareness of purpose in the process reminds me, too, that the story’s message of hope and grace and forgiveness (to each other and yourself) is one I believe God placed on my heart to tell others. If that’s not a priority worth keeping on top, I don’t know what is.
Life will still throw me curve balls. (Just in the last 24-hours, for instance, I had a flat tire, spilled a full glass all over the living room, and had to catch my dog’s urine in a bowl for a specimen to take the to vet.) This is life this side of heaven. Messy, frustrating, and overwhelming. But it’s also filled with 30-second blessings that remind us why we do what we do: because we are who God made us each to be.
I gave up writing this week. But I picked it right back up again.
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17 thoughts on “I Gave Up Writing This Week”
I can totally relate to that feeling of overwhelm and sense of never ending duties. What a great reminder of God’s perfect timing and Grace?! Thank you for being so transparent…
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Thanks for reading! Yea, life can be tough. We’ve got to let Him be tougher.
This. Just. This.
This is amazing grace. This is a ressurrecting God did in your soul with this calling To Write and to release your powerful story out into the world. Because HIS purpose for it is waaaaay above anything we could ever dream or think.
((INFINITE BIG HUGS ))
Love you, friend. Thanks for your support!
I am right there with you! I have been feeling overwhelmed lately and have been backing off of putting out a blog post each day-so much work!
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What a wonderful story and exchange between you and your daughter. I think the universe is telling you something with that one 🙂
Yes, I think God certainly had a hand in the timing, for sure! Thanks so much!
This was beautiful. Up until the moment you wrote that your daughter wrote you a poem, I was screaming in my head “Don’t give up! You are so good at it! Just take a break for a few days and come back fresh and with laundry completed!” So, I’m very glad you decided to continue writing. I wish you the best of luck with your publication and balancing your other roles. I just wrote a post about finding balance in life so I completely relate. It is HARD! But we can do it! I believe!
xoxo Lauren | Glitter & Grandeur
You’re so sweet. Thank you! I’ll have to go read your post on balance!
This was amazing. As women, we have SOOO many pressures weighing down on us. I especially love how took a break because you were writing for the sake of writing, for the sake of publishing, and for the sake of just putting something out there… not to help others. A lot of bloggers lose that. I’ll be book marking this to keep read every so often. I’m glad you kept writing, and sharing your insight with others like myself! ❤ 🙂
Thank you so much, Justine. Hope to see you back soon! We’ve got to stick together. 😉
I completely understand! Sometimes we have to take a break to devote our time to what’s ‘really’ important
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Very true! Thanks for reading. 🙂
Another good honest post Teresa. It’s taken me 10 years from the time God starting dealing with me to write a book. It’s just plain hard but oh so fulfilling when I finally start putting words out there. When people ask me about blogging I usually tell them I like to write comments better then I do writing a blog. I like to encourage others, I like to walk along side of women as they journey through life. But penning down my life is a different story. I can speak it better then I can write it, and sometimes I do do some speaking for womens groups. My desire to be a wise courageous women has been the very thing the Lord has used to get me to write. What ever wisdom I have is from Him, even the wisdom from the world I had before Him. He is master over all words when I let Him write for me. thanks again for your courageous wise words.