by April Fields
While waxing philosophical with my oldest grandson, Hayes, about life passages and thresholds, I told him that I had recently passed through another myself that was something of an epiphany.
I confessed to him that I had been a peculiar kid and was an accomplished daydreamer at an early age. In fact, the only time I can recall my mother openly expressing pride in me was when my forth grade teacher wrote on my report card that ‘April daydreams too much’ which incensed my mother who then shot a note back to him that “April will do things that others will only wish they could do.”
Whether or not that turned out to be true, it did plant a seed in me, even though it didn’t mean that the world would notice or care. There is a difference between being and being recognized as being. I’ve managed to stay reasonably invisible to the world for 73 years and being INTJ I have preferred it that way. I have operated under the radar so I could be free to pursue dozens of interests rather than being boxed in or limited by credentials or the expectations of an often fickle, ever-changing world view.
Where I am now, though, having rapidly passed through more thresholds in recent years, adjusting to being forced to give up so many of the things I know how to do because of aging joints and mind, I see that I have come full circle to that daydreamer child who observed others so she could imagine their lives, their feelings, thoughts and points of view…the kid who then took those observations and wrote poems, stories, and drew pictures, all of which were then stuffed in the bottom of her sock drawer never to be seen by anyone else…the imagineer who played and pretended by herself mostly, because she didn’t need others to help her live in her created world and who understood and accepted that no one would get her anyway.
That person is me again, albeit in a different way but still finding satisfaction in just creating with no plan or goal in mind. No obligation to be critiqued, ranked or marketable. No reason to do other than to satisfy a curiosity, a desire to make something from nothing or solve a problem and just be with no need for recognition, praise or acclamation. I’m glad to just run amuck with an inspiration having no boundaries.
Is it possible I have finally embraced the art of retirement?
I am compelled to reveal all this because there is a more important take away from this truncated biography that might lend a bit of new perspective for someone else.
My faith and personal relationship with Christ is so deeply embedded in me that I often forget to share with others that everything I do and don’t do is ultimately for Him, not me, anyway. Since I abhor being preached to by those who can’t get their own lives together or make wise choices for themselves, I tend to go the other way and not speak aloud what I refer to as knowing-the-letter-but-not-the-spirit “God Words”. So, I regret that I neglected to tell Hayes the rest and point of this topic, i.e., that everything I am, or ever tried to be, has never been for me, per se, except when I was younger and less mature in the spirit.
There have been times when, in my childish flesh, I have felt so invisible and unremarkable that I thought perhaps I should just give up and stop doing/creating because my efforts seemed to be pointless. But when you have survived the most important, sometimes painfully introspective, life passages that grow your wisdom quotient, you find that you are often muted because you know that no one else, who is not yet there, would understand anyway – a condition I am fully accustomed to, as it turns out, and why I forget to share.
In a petty, self-focused, foggy moment, recently, I told God that I was tired of writing and not being read, speaking and not being heard, and doing and not being seen.
And then, as He always speaks to me in the shortest number of words, He replied, “But I do.”
“Oh,” I humbly understood.
This piece first appeared here. Cover photo by Ronald Cuyan on Unsplash
About April Fields: Mother, wife, grandmother, I have many titles. I do Print-On-Demand publishing, web design and graphic design. But none of these tags matter much, in the big scheme of things. When a little voice calls, “Meema, I want to show you something”, I answer because that is my best job so far. I’m just Meema. April blogs at bagsallpacked.blogspot.com.
Thank you for this April. I’ve been in one of those passages too. Transitioning from being seen to unseen and unheard, and worse, felling a lack of purpose in the “un “ of it all. Your openness is another reminder for me to examine my motives and that may all I do be for Him. I struggle with this daily. I’m holding your words tightly.
Debbie, I am a fan of your blog and amazed at how often you and I are on the same page. Though I made peace, long ago, with being an outlier, it is strangely comforting to know there is at least one other. 🙂
I really enjoyed your reflection, as your words affirmed some of my recent tossing when yet another book proposal was turned down. How am I to keep writing? The Lord is showing me and your words, especially final sentences, echoed with his affirmation.
I could write a book on this topic LOL!
The most difficult concept that writers struggle with is that publishing is not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – it’s just a business. Therefore, rejections are mostly just business decisions and might not have anything to do with publishability. It takes, on average, a year to 18 months to go from raw manuscript to printed book so you can’t know what titles are already in the cue or what the projections are for a publisher in terms of how many books will get printed in a 12 month period. Unless the author is well known or currently controversial, the publisher is rolling the dice and has a window of profitability to meet.
The competition in the world of publishing is brutal actually. Furthermore, whereas once an unknown author could find a willing publisher on his/her own, as the business of publishing has morphed with the all the ways books can be and are published and promoted now, most publishers will not even consider putting a manuscript in the hands of a ‘first reader’ without an agent submitting.
I’m telling you this because sometimes we think something can only be done one way, when, in fact, when we open ourselves to God’s possibilities, we step through yet another threshold into amazing options.
Yes. I do know publishing is a business, and that if they give you a chance as a first time author and your sales are disappointing, they will raise the bar the next time. But I was gifted the opportunity to write the book that was on my heart and at the center of many blogposts. I’m still grateful that Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ became something I could hand to a friend or teach from or speak from. God opened that door, and I’m grateful.
What I learned is that publishing one book only increased the pressure to prove that I could do it again. I ended up feeling shame instead of gratitude, because I suddenly didn’t want to be a “one book wonder.” Ha!
My quest now is contentment before my Lord and quiet confidence to press on with writing. Thank you for your words that stirred my courage.
Sometimes I think we are held prisoner to our own expectations. Being a ‘one book wonder’ is heads and shoulders above most so I’d say you have already accomplished what so many can only dream about. A very good place to begin. 🙂
Sitting with my second cuppa coffee, thinking on this topic, I had some flashbacks to my quest to become a published writer era. I dived in with all four limbs. I read as many Writers on Writing books that I could find. I studied the business of publishing and I, being INTJ, determined to find the ‘formula’ so I read current fiction and non-fiction with a detective’s eye.
Over time, while I learned much, I also found that I had lost the ability to read for pleasure anymore. I read like an editor, looking for structure and perfect imagery. Then, one day, I asked God what the point was, what good would all the knowledge be if the essence was missed. I didn’t get an answer, per se, but I did determine to rest from the pursuit for awhile. Eventually I found I could read for the enjoyment of reading again, even as I could not deny my increased knowledge base on the mechanical side of creating a printed book.
And then, one day, the answer I didn’t get before flushed over me – what I thought I had wanted would not have made me feel accomplished but rather box me in and enslave me to the formula, the protocols, the system. God knew that was not me. He knew I needed to be unencumbered and able to fly under the radar, unseen.. And for that I am so grateful.
Thank you for your thoughtful words and continued engagement with me on this struggle. You’ve captured much of what I’m experiencing and helped me recognize what I’m really after–recovering the joy of discovery and partnership with the Lord when I write. It’s beginning to come back. And that is priceless.
I’m feeling super encouraged by your closing dialogue with God. So many times, I’ve been at that “giving up” point. You’ve so poignantly written such an important reminder. Who am I doing it for?
Thank you, Peggi, for commenting. It confirms for me my view of the power of encouragement and how far reaching a single uplifting can be. Humans generally think of power in numbers and Christians, in particular are hardwired to focus on ‘how many’ rather than who. But it seems to me that God does the exact opposite. He sees the power of the individual. Over and over again, the Scriptures point to God accomplishing the most with the least. Therefore, I choose to be counted as the least of the least. 🙂