Monday, May 30, 2011

In a State of High Dudgeon

I found myself there this past week. "In a state of high dudgeon." - a state or fit of intense indignation; resentment; ill humour

A more common word for it is discouragement. It's a nasty word and an even nastier reality. But it happens. We have days when things overwhelm us, when bad news brings us low, when we wonder if God really has given us this task, this ministry of writing. And if He has, why doesn't He let a few others in on the secret?

I had one of those days this week. I'd been fighting it for some time, ever since learning that the treatments I'll have to undergo for cancer may be more extensive than originally thought. That could mean I'll have to cancel a trip to the arctic that has been planned for over a year. Then I got an email from my publisher telling me my next novel may not be published after all. And an attempt to solicit help from friends to promote my ebook was a dismal failure. A phone call from my sister who is watching our mother die in a town on the other side of the country left me on the edge. All of this has left me feeling tired and unwilling to keep trying to roll that huge ball of life uphill.

Discouragement. It can lead to frustration and frustration to anger and anger to lack of faith. It was my husband who reminded me of this. I guess he was seeing the signs. He reminded me that my worth is not dependant on selling millions of books. He reminded me that success does not rest on being on the best sellers list. He reminded me about some of the changes in people's lives because they've read my novel. He reminded me that joy does not rely on the circumstances around me but comes from knowing I am loved by a God who gave his own life for mine.

That lifted my head, made me look up again and realize that God is here, with me. He's the one who gave the ball a mighty heave to get it moving in the first place and I know he's not going to abandon me or let it roll back on top of me.

A friend sent me this scripture yesterday. It helped lift my head up too.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8).

And then there's this one - "I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber" (Psalm 121 - 1-3).

So I am lifting my eyes to see the gifts of God around me - the burgeoning green of spring; the deep red of geraniums in my living room that just won't quit blooming; the hugs and prayers of friends who just won't quit encouraging me. And I am thankful.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roadblocks

I was on my way to meet some friends for lunch and already running late. Seeing the flashing sign on the highway did not make me happy. Expect delays. Construction ahead. Haarrummph. Sure enough, the vehicles ahead of me started to brake. I slowed down with the rest of them and slid into the long line that was almost at a standstill. Then I noticed my hands were gripping the steering wheel rather tightly.

I took a deep breath and told myself to relax. Then I remembered commenting to my husband that it was about time this stretch of road was repaired. I sighed. The work was necessary for everyone's safety and there was no other way to do it than to make the traffic slow down and take a bit of a detour. Causing my blood pressure to hit the roof would not change anything. My friends would wait for me. I sat back and turned on a favourite CD.

Road blocks, whether on a physical highway or in our lives, are not easy to deal with. We have people to see, things to accomplish - delays look like nothing more than something that will add stress to our days. But, as a friend recently reminded me, they usually have a purpose. Like the construction on that local highway, the work is usually necessary - perhaps essential - to our mental, physical and spiritual well being.

I ran into a few road blocks in my writing career this week. They were frustrating and I admit they did not inspire me to praise. They almost pushed me to rage. I have books to write, books to market, words I know God will use to help and to heal - but the roadblocks keep popping up. Yes, I know God's timing is always perfect but these detours into cancer clinics and other road blocks that are suddenly thrown in my path don't seem to help. But yes, I know they do have a purpose.

Slowing down has its advantages. I'll be able to do more editing on my manuscript, since its publication has been delayed again. I'll have more time to pray about those who need to read it and how I should go about getting it into their hands. I'll have time, in those cancer clinics, to pray for and minister to people whose lives are all too real, all too painful. Perhaps stepping out of the realm of fiction into cold hard reality will give me a different perspective about my writing and about my life. Perhaps these detours and roadblocks are necessary, even essential to the work that God has ahead for me to do.

Perhaps there is no perhaps about it. I just need to "imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised" (Hebrews 6:12).