The carpool kids and I have jokingly created a new phrase: “MEF,” standing for Major Epic Fail. We use it only in fun, and I monitor that closely because I know that it hurts to feel that you have really, truly failed.
I’ve felt a bit of a MEF lately. Nothing’s going horribly, but I’m not hitting anything out of the park either: Teaching, hmm, so-so; House upkeep/family organization, um… ; Mothering, well, you know how you feel when you recognize something is incredibly important, but it just makes you weary? Yeah.
And finally, what’s rubbing deepest of all this week: my dream of being a published writer—of that being my primary outside-of-mothering job—feels further and further away from ever being a possibility.
I have issues with this dream. The desire for publication has never been comfortable for me. I struggle with the apparent selfishness of it, with my “need” to be recognized for my writing ability and my ideas. At the same time, I can’t stop writing. It’s a compulsion. More than that, it’s a gift, and I feel I’m supposed to do something with it.
And that’s the thing: nothing is coming of it. I post on my blog; I take five pages to a writing group each week; every once in awhile I submit to an agent or publisher—and get another rejection slip—and I still have this cursed dream.
About a month ago I realized I was fixated on my blog (actually with the number of people viewing it—or NOT viewing it), so I took the visitors’ statistics off my dashboard. I have no idea how many people don’t visit it (haha!), and that’s been good. It doesn’t take away the desire to be read, though, and my sense of failure whenever I hear of someone else who has “succeeded” where I’ve not.
At the beginning of the school year our school nurse (I taught a couple of her daughters a few years back) handed me a book. “Jen, I think you’ll like this. My sister-in-law wrote it about her adoption, and it just came out.” NOTE: I think our school nurse is a WONDERFUL person and mom; I am in awe of the way she and her husband have taken in short-term foster kids for years; I think her sister’s-in-law book is really, really good; and I am thrilled that more people are learning about international adoption through it. BUT, when I took it home and set it on my bedside table, I wanted to cry. “That should be my book,” I thought, and then I hated myself for thinking that. This morning as I listened to a radio program in the car, the host announced, “Today we have with us Jennifer Grant, author of “Love You More,” the story of her adoption from Guatemala. Same lady.
I felt like a MEF. Major Epic Failure.
At the same time, though, I wanted to beat myself up, as I always do when I succumb to self pity. “Seriously, Jen, there are so many women dealing with such bigger issues than an unrealized dream. You’ve been given so much. You have so much ministry in your very home. You really do love teaching. Don’t you see how selfish this is, how myopic (love that word) your focus is?”
But my self-beating doesn’t get rid of the niggling, wriggling discontent OR the feeling that I still AM supposed to keep writing, keep pursuing it, keep putting it out there. Oh, if my desires could just be stripped clean! If the selfishness could be ripped away so that what is left is only the desire for my writing—and, ultimately, my entire life—to be used for God’s glory, in whatever way He chooses. Then I could rest content in how I already see He IS using it: with my writing group on Thursday nights (where my story of Patrick’s adoption and God’s faithfulness is, well, very different from most of the other submissions) and with the few people who do read my blog and identify (I hope) with my own struggles laid bare.
But I’m still in the process of sanctification, still in the muddy, mixed state that IS life here on earth, and this is part of my redemption. So it takes a few turns in this cycle of discontent and penance before I end where I should begin, with a wail of desperation to God. “I can’t figure anything out, not even myself.”
It’s a cry for clarity, but He doesn’t give me the answers I think I want. Instead He tells me to trust, to turn to praise and thanks. He draws my eyes to Him again.
And somehow, eventually, though I am still without answers, I move from grumbling to peace, that peace that “passes understanding,” perhaps even that comes WITHOUT understanding, for I have no greater knowledge than I did before.
Yet I do, for I am reminded that my hope doesn’t rest in anything as uncertain as a book deal or a growing reader volume. My hope isn’t ultimately set on anything in this earthly side of my life. It’s set on Christ, on Who He is, on what He has done and is doing. It’s set on the promise He gives me in Phil. 1:6, that He has begun a work in me and He won’t quit. He has this end result in mind for me, and, by golly, it WILL happen (which is not anything I can ever say), though it may not look like any of my self-imaginings.
It reminds me of that old Christianese bumper sticker: “Let Go and Let God.” I never particularly liked that one—more from a generally unsettled feeling about Christian bumper stickers and slogans than from a specific dislike of that one—but I see some wisdom in it.
Let go, again and again. Let go, let go, let go.
And then, Let God.
P.S. My jealousy aside, Jennifer Grant’s book, Love You More, is really good. If you know of anyone thinking about international adoption, suggest it to him/her. It’s her story but also a lot of really helpful information about the process of international adoption and the emotions people experience as they think about it and go through it.