Thursday, September 26, 2013

The View from the Sky-- Learning How to Wait Expectantly

This year, my ACFW conference experience did not go as expected.

You may have seen me like this:

Or with my handy crutch:

I actually don't have any pictures of my black boot because my friends knew better than to take any full-length shots! But you can use your own imagination. We're talking shin-length, black padding, lots of velcro. Much better than a cast. Much more disappointing than regular shoes.

I tried to make the best of my broken foot. Really, I did. I hobbled around to workshops and appointments, and my sweet Alley Cat friends got me ice and pushed me around in that wheelchair any time we went outside the hotel. I smiled a lot and tried to pretend everything was normal.

But let's face it. You can only ignore a broken bone--any kind of brokenness, really--for so long.

After a day or two, the fatigue began to catch up with me. I felt tired, worn-down, and weary. I just wanted the whole typical conference experience. I wanted to walk up to my editor appointments like a normal person, and to sashay down to Starbucks afterwards with a spring in my step. Not an ill-balanced hobble.

This general fatigue began to affect my usual fighting attitude. I generally take challenges head-on. But brokenness began to get the best of me, and doubts crept in. Did I pitch my novel with enough clarity? Did I inspire enough enthusiasm? Did I leave an impression with those I came into contact with, aside from being known as the broken-foot girl?

The problem with all these questions is they're I-centered.

Have you ever noticed that brokenness has a way of zapping our strength? That it blatantly attacks the promises of God in our lives? It tells us if we keep reaching toward our dreams, we may end up even more broken. Before long, we start considering whether we've really got what it takes to get all the way to our dreams. But the thing is, we don't have it in us.

We can not accomplish the will of God in our lives, the dreams He has given us, on our own accord. They're too big. Too full of beauty. That's the whole point. So it's no wonder we get tired trying.

What if the point of this whole writing gig isn't doing it well enough, but being the person God desires us to become? What if He isn't asking for results, but for intimacy with us?

Now, flash forward a few days to my trip home. I had this brief moment in the airplane when I looked out the window, and felt a stab of panic about being stuck in the air. I'm not usually one to get super nervous on airplanes, but for some reason, the idea of being stuck inside of one made me so uneasy. I wanted out. I wanted to get where I was going.

Are you feeling panic about your writing, like you may be "stuck in the air," so to speak? Let me encourage you that just like airplane travel, you're not actually stuck at all. Just because you're not "there" yet does not mean you're not making progress. Sometimes the landscape below is just difficult to discern. But God has your journey mapped out, and He knows where you're going next.

You are in transit. You may not be there yet, but you are on the way. You're a little closer now than you were yesterday. And that's something to get excited about.

Learn to enjoy where you are in this journey. When we recognize the beauty all around us--the beautiful heights of the sky we're flying through--we can look to the future with expectancy.

If we're always hanging our hearts on achievement, we will never feel satisfied. But if we allow hope to fill our expectations, we can enjoy each step of the journey as we recognize the beauty of our moments.

Though this conference experience was different for me, and though I came away with a foot that was still broken, I learned something very important, and that is this: God is comfortable with our brokenness. He really doesn't mind. See, He can work through it, even when we feel like we're at the end of our rope. So if you are feeling tired today, or your heart is weary, don't try to keep going on your own strength. Instead, give it to Him. Allow Him to take the responsibility of making His promises happen. You were never created to carry such a heavy burden yourself.

Have you ever found yourself weary or discouraged about your writing journey? How do you fin beauty in the journey and wait expectantly for the promises of God to come to pass?


Ashley Clark writes romantic comedy with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blogFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Debra E. Marvin said...

Oh Ashley, you were noticeably adorable in your black boot. And in a sea of 700 attendees, memorable--a blessing in disguise?

I know that God has plans for me that will bless me and bless others... all despite myself! Lovely post!

Beth K. Vogt said...

You stopped me in my tracks today, Ashley -- and I'm walking on my treadmill as I read this blog.
"What if He isn't asking for results, but for intimacy with us?"

I do believe in God's economy that's what this writing journey is about -- our relationship with Him, and allowing Him to conform us to His image more and more.

Beautiful post, my friend.

Kathleen T. Jaeger said...

"If we're always hanging our hearts on achievement, we will never feel satisfied. But if we allow hope to fill our expectations, we can enjoy each step of the journey as we recognize the beauty of our moments." This is a profound statement that applies to all of life -- not just the writing life. Thanks -- a new follower here at TWA.

Angie Dicken said...

Beautiful, Ashley. Just beautiful!

~cjoy said...

Indeed, He needs us to be broken--broken of ourSELVES in order to be more like Him. Then we express Him more clearly.

I saw you in passing--and because of your suave boot, I glanced at your name tag, recognizing it. :) I hope you're healing quickly!

Unknown said...

Tears. Thanks, Ashley. There's nothing easy about waiting. But you've cut to the heart of our pain & brokenness--very gently, I might add ;)--and reminded us to realign our focus on the dream-giver rather than on the dream itself. Precious. Thank you.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Ashley, beautiful post. So true. I've thought often about brokenness, and I've come to the conclusion that how we respond to it determines oh, so much. I believe God allows us to see our brokenness, at times, so that we will surrender all of ourselves to Him. When I've tried to push through my brokenness in my own strength, I end up weary and discouraged. When I surrender all to Him, He refreshes me and renews my perspective.

My favorite lines from your post have already been quoted, so I won't repeat, but I loved this post. And really, it is all about God and how we respond to Him.

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you, Debra, and thank you for being so sweet about my boot... I felt anything but adorable at the time! :)

Ashley Clark said...

Careful stopping on a treadmill, or you may end up like me! ;) Thank you, sweet Beth-- this is definitely something God has been teaching me, as I have a tendency to take waaaaaaay too much on my own shoulders, then wonder why I feel exhausted. Love you!

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you, Kathleen! We are so glad to have you stopping by the Alley!

Ashley Clark said...

Thanks, Angie!

Cjoy, at least it got me noticed, I guess! Nice to meet you here, even if we didn't get to chat in person! :)

Ashley Clark said...

Crystal, I love what you said about the dream-giver!!! So true! Thank you for sharing!!

Jeanne, thank you so much. Loved getting to chat with you!