I don’t know about you, but I loved Steve’s blog post on Monday, When the Outlook is Bleak. People out there are HURTING.
I was with a friend a few days ago, a best-selling author who was battling an especially difficult edit. Difficult because the edits weakened the book rather than strengthened it. She’d uttered a series of gut-deep sighs, read me changes that I agreed didn’t make sense, and finally sat there, shaking her head.
And then she stopped. Straightened. Fixed me with a somber gaze and said:
“Today, in this very moment, someone is sitting in the doctor’s office, receiving the worst news of their life.”
I started. “What?”
She drew a deep breath. “At times like this, I have to restore my perspective. I have to tell myself that somewhere, right at this moment, a mother is saying good-bye to a dying child. A family is losing a home to foreclosure or disaster. In light of all of that, what does a difficult edit matter?”
So saying, my friend shrugged off the mantle of discouragement that had settled over her, smiled, and got back to work. I didn’t hear another heavy sigh or complaint from her.
Seeing this struck–and convicted–me. As you may know, I’ve been fighting computer issues since late March. And I’m still dealing with some of the problems. Had to call tech support again just yesterday! And I was SO FRUSTRATED! WHY CAN’T THEY GET THIS FIXED?? I’M LOSING WORK TIME!! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!
And then my friend’s words echoed: “Someone, in this very moment…”
I drew a breath, and let the thought come: Someone in this very moment, has just lost everything to the fires raging in Oklahoma.
And then more thoughts, but these were about people I know and love…
A young friend has just been told she has a disease that may kill her.
A friend is facing foreclosure on her home.
A man who has cared for his special needs grandkids just took one of them to the ER, and had to go home without her. Doesn’t know if she’ll come home or if she’s lost to him.
I felt the shift inside. My anger over computer issues was, in a word, ridiculous. A waste of emotional energy. I covered my face with my hands and spent time praying…for my suffering friends, for those who have been touched lately by disasters, for those facing life-shattering issues.
When I was done, I called tech support again. But this time I wasn’t angry. Only appreciative of the fact that I have been blessed with the computers I have–and with those who can help me overcome the problems.
So what’s my point?
Everyone faces discouragement. Especially those of us who have chosen a career path in publishing. Discouragement, rejection, broken dreams…they exist in abundance in this field. But those of us who seek to honor God in our writing, editing, agenting, we need to remember that while things get ugly from time to time, we’re doing important work. Not for ourselves. But for the One who called us to all this. Who walks with us down every road and detour. The One who is not surprised at what comes to us, but rather is using those obstacles and frustrations to refine us.
My dad, a retired pastor, shared this illustration with my hubby and me today:
A woman went to visit her mother, telling her how discouraged she was, how weary of all the struggles in life. The mother took her into the kitchen, set three pots of water on the stove, turned the heat on high. In one pot she put carrots; in the second, she put an egg, in the last, coffee grounds. After about 20 minutes, she turned off the heat, fished out the carrot and the egg, and asked her daughter to tell her what changes had taken place.
“The carrot’s all soft and squishy,” the daughter said, “and the egg is hard boiled.”
The mother then poured the water from the coffee grounds into a mug, and had her daughter sip it. “What change has taken place?”
The daughter smiled. “The water’s been changed into a delicious coffee.”
The mother put her arm around her daughter. “So then, we have a choice when the heat is on in life. We can grow soft and squishy, like the carrot, or hard inside like the egg. Or we can be like the coffee grounds, and change the water around us into something rich and refreshing.”
Let’s give that a try, friends. Let’s let God use the hard times, the discouragements and frustrations, to refine and perfect us. And then let’s let Him use us to change the world around us, and bring a richness of spirit and a refreshment of the heart to those we encounter.
Peace to you today.