I'm staring at the blank screen in MailChimp, wondering how to put all this into words. I'm not sure I can, but I know you know me well enough to know that authenticity is important to me. But even more important? Jesus.
When I met Him at fifteen, I had a hard time understanding why anyone in their right mind would stray from Him. He rescued me to the hilt. He healed (and continues to heal) me. I would go to parties with my Christian friends, only to be that sad, weird girl crying in the corner about her friends straying from Jesus.
But the truth is, we all have our own crazy journeys, and I cannot dictate to you how to walk with Him, nor can you force me to follow Him the way you do. I'm grateful neither of us is the Holy Spirit. I'm also so very grateful FOR the Holy Spirit who truly is a comforter.
Over the past few months, we've been walking through the pain of other people's choices. I've probably read a lot of the book of Job, made way too much homemade Chex Mix and swallowed it by the handfuls, and I've become a weepy mess when songs like this happen at worship. I added the lyrics of "Resurrecting" onto this flower I found on a walk. (Aside, I'm creating art every day for Lent. If you'd like to see it, follow me on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/marydemuth/)
Here's what I'm learning through tragedies and trials:
What you do on the good days matters.
Because when the hard days come (and they will), you will have the tenacity and grit to put one foot in front of the other, despite heartbreak, broken expectations, and what seems like victory for evil.
This is precisely why I love this translation of James 1:2-4 (Phillips):
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.
On the good days, I tried to remind myself that I grow best through trials, that they are friends. So when the latest bout of trials knocked on my door, I was able to (through the power of the Spirit) welcome them in. Because when folks disappoint you, or you're living with the pain of other people's choices, you have such a beautiful opportunity to do two things:
That's the "why" of the subject line of my email. Jesus is always the hero of my story, whether it be a romance, an adventure tale, or a tragedy. He best knows how to come alongside me because He understands what it's like to be hurt by others. He understands trauma (wow, the cross was traumatic!). He empathizes when we ache.
- Their situation causes you to intercede like never before. You will grow in prayer!
- Their choices allow for you to love like never before. Your heart will expand.
And here's what I'm understanding more and more: my put together, pristine heart doesn't long for Jesus. When I'm A-OK and feeling pretty darn smug, I don't run to Him.
But oh when I'm sad or grieving? He's where I go. He's my safe place. My need becomes a catapult that throws me into His arms. That's the paradox of when I'm weak, then He is strong. But when I am strong, He cannot be because there's too much of me in the way.
So if you're walking through a relational pain right now, take heart. This will end up (eventually) becoming a blessing to you and is the fertile ground you need to grow deeper. It's an opportunity to train yourself in hope. It's a time when you can focus again on eternal hope--the hope of heaven--where all relational struggle will cease, there will be no more angst or wars of words, or broken promises fade into oblivion. One day, everything will be made right. And as you practice tenacity right now, there will be reward for your faithfulness in the next life.
ASIDE: I would appreciate prayer not only for what we've been walking through, but also for my writing career. It seems these days more and more books are written that feel a lot like this Scripture:
"For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear." 2 Timothy 4:3
On the one hand, this is highly discouraging. But it makes sense. Folks want to be happy. They want to read books that shy away from words like sacrifice, holiness, and integrity. And since I don't tend to shy away from those words, I could allow myself a big ol' pity party about it, become discouraged and quit altogether.
But on the other hand, I believe there needs to be more books written today that have the potential to be Christian classics--with the kind of messages that help future generations press into Jesus. I want to write books like that. I don't know if I have the literary chops to do so, but my goal has been to write each book better than the last. I'm currently with no book contract now, and I'm praying and waiting. Honestly, I've wondered if this whole gig is up. Safe, happy, easy SELLS. What I write doesn't. But then again, I see things like this about the book Everything, and I am grateful:
I have to keep reminding myself that kingdom success DOES NOT EQUAL material/fame/popularity success. Anyway, that's a lot of words to just ask you to pray for me in this area. I would love to experience a little bit of breakthrough in my writing career soon.
And just so you know I'm okay (or maybe insane!), I'll leave you with this picture of joy:
Yes, yes. We got a chocolate lab puppy. Her name is Daisy, and she is a mess! But we love her.
With thanks for you for reading this excessively long update,
P.S. If you're a writer, writing a book, I would love to meet you at the next intensive May 12-13th. Everything you need to know is on the Intensive page. The most popular level is the middle level where you'll receive an evaluation of your book (up to ten pages) and a one-hour SKYPE mentoring appointment after the intensive.