Sunday, July 28, 2013
prudence, the push and a proposal
most people wait until it's "safe" to tell you they’re pregnant.
i was never one of them.
i was teaching high school english when i became pregnant with our firstborn. and i'm pretty sure i told my students about our impending bundle of joy possibly only hours after filling in my husband.
this was probably lacking ... er ... um ... prudence?
i can't help it. i'm just a spill-the-beans kind of gal. i've let you in on this non-secret before: jody mcnatt can do her bit of over-sharing with the best of them -- if you're a regular reader, you know this.
and last week, for some reason, thought it a good idea to let all of facebook know that i'd be attending a writer/speaker conference and submitting a book proposal.
clearly, prudence is not my middle name.
i realize not everyone has this same issue. while at the conference, i talked with a woman who i am pretty sure from our conversation, hadn't even told her own husband she was turning in a proposal and meeting with publishers.
and you want to know why?
A). because she is prudent.
B). because, if it didn't go well...NO ONE HAD TO KNOW.
no one gets hurt.
there’d be no skin peeling off this prudent woman’s back.
so maybe i can be a tad bit idealistic on occasion (eye-roll), but still, i really don't think everything always goes well. in fact, when i over-shared about my appointments, i wasn't tooting my own horn or trying to set some high expectation. i actually confessed i was rather worried about throwing up on the publisher's shoes. (i didn't, by the way).
i am fine letting y'all know that i was nervous and unsure and REALLY SCARED. but still, i suppose i could have kept it all hushed up and buttoned up and shut up and safe. i could have. but i didn't. i shared -- girl, you know i did!
but i want you to know something else: in that sharing, i was vulnerable - yes. but also in that sharing, i was blessed - yes!
i'm not particularly needy in the affirmation department (at least i like to tell myself this), but who doesn't like to be cheered? we all do! each one of us needs to have some peeps in our corner. right? and each one of us needs to be affirmed -- needy or not, it feels like a warm hug in the hallways of life where we are too busy or too far to pass one another often.
and that's how i felt sitting near the baggage carousel sniveling into the crook of my elbow. i felt like i had a few people in my corner and i felt hugged. loved.
and then immediately after that warm, fuzzy feeling, i felt something else all together different:
i felt the slow creep of possible high expectation and i felt exposed. vulnerable. naked. (well, i was still wearing my carefully chosen conference blouse, but you get it).
because that's the reason people keep things to themselves. they don't want the pressure of someone else's expectations or enthusiasm. they don't want to feel exposed. they don't want to fail on a bar set too high or too public. it's just flat out easier to fail privately, wouldn't you agree?
i get it.
and this weekend as my publisher appointments loomed closer, i REALLY began to get it.
i’m curious, where do you fall on that line between buttoned up and all spilled out? are you a runner from risk or are you a walker on the line of potential public humiliation.
it’s important to know.
because some of us might need to be reigned in on occasion and other’s might need to be pushed.
in last week’s post -- the push -- i wrote about how good it is for us to push out from the safe place of our comfort. and i want to continue this piece and connect back to last week's writing. think of it as the push - part two.
i realize it’s getting a bit long (give me some grace, i’m fresh from a writer’s conference, y’all). but because this is a blog, you have options: you can continue reading; save it for another day; or, you can take a break, refill your coffee, throw in another load of laundry, and check on your kids. i suppose you could also stop altogether -- but don’t do that, i’m about to tell you what happened in my publisher appointments.
anyway, in my she-wants-to-write-a-book-brain, i’ve even given this second half of my post it’s own special name or chapter.
okay, forget your options, i’m going to highly recommend you at least go get a coke.
back now? great, here we go...
"the push - part two"
a few days ago, i wrote about pushing ourselves a little bit and pushing toward what God wants to give us. (the push).
that thing. that desire. that seed.
not out of a lack of contentment, but out of a calling.
this weekend, i was pushed a little -- okay, truthfully, i was pushed a lot. i was pushed to attend, pushed to come alone, pushed to take part in some unbelievable sessions and hear some incredible and (ouch!) convicting words. mostly, i was pushed to consider just what God might be trying to tell me.
i mean, don't get me wrong, no one actually pushed me. the push came from within, but make no mistake, a push is a push.
and as inspiring as everything has been, there were a few times when i kind of wanted to push it away, to push it all back. it’s a little scary when you find yourself at the intersection of inspiration and conviction.
i'm not ready for this God. i'm not ready for this kind of push. not yet. not now. Lord, let me just stick my nose around the corner and look a little. but don't ask me to turn. don't make me cross the street and show myself fully. let me just take it all in from a distance.
that sounded good.
that sounded safe.
but it wasn't like that. not with the women of proverbs 31. oh no! one foot inside the hotel door, and baby, i was in! there were no corners to turn and nothing to hide behind...it was wide open space and i was right there in the press of 700 women ... exposed.
but it didn't just begin there.
weeks before the conference God pushed me to work on a proposal i wasn't at all sure i could write. for months now i've been pushing down the ideas and trying to hide from the process. but i couldn't ignore the shove -- especially when rick offered to take the kids away for a week. and so i started to put words to paper. i pushed the keys of my computer and i pushed my creativity to the limit. i even had to push back my bedtime and, on occasion, push away some of the good things in our home.
and somehow i got here with a kinda-grown-up-girl book proposal, a good dose of nerves and, of course, a little bit of a dream.
it's been an amazing few days sitting under the teaching of lysa teurkeurst, michael hyatt and many others. worth all the pushing and all the planning and even all the late night plodding of words. though it pushed me to my limit, it was the perfect place for me to land.
i met with some publishers yesterday. i have to tell you though, it wasn't easy. at one point i wanted to just run back up to my room and push the door closed behind me. i wanted to hide out.
(if you didn’t go get that original coke i suggested 1000 words earlier, now might be another good opportunity).
in my first meeting, i eased myself into the hot seat and tore into my pitch, all the while smoothly pushing my proposal across the table to the serious woman on the other side. she glanced through it nodding and humphing and listening -- two eyes on my proposal and maybe one ear on my pitch. then she looked up and began to push it back across the table toward me. "uh-uh," i thought, and as i continued to construct my case for things like "felt need" and "strong platform," i pushed it back across to her. we continued our little pushing war in the midst of discussing my slightly "esoteric title" and the proposal's "comparable analysis." though fair and kind, i felt her pushing back on my ideas, pushing back on me. "you're a strong writer,” she said, “that's clear. but i'm not sure this proposal is ready for book form just yet." she presented me with some valid suggestions and some excellent insight and she began to rise and push back from the table.
but i have to tell you, as she was politely declining my word-baby, a part of me was tallying up the copious amount of hours i'd already forked over to this project. i wanted to tell her about my husband taking the kids away for a week and how i had been waking at 4 in the morning and how some nights we ate cereal for dinner. it costs a lot for a mother of five to find a few minutes to write. what she was suggesting in "building my audience" and "strengthening my storyline" felt like a shove to my gut. it pushed right against the grain of my spirit. i wanted to push my chair back and cry, "no wait. please hear my heart...see my work...read my words. there might be something here. can't we go a little further? can't we push a little deeper into the proposal?"
but, she pushed it back to me again. and i knew at this point, she wasn't going to take my proposal regardless of my persistence or pushing.
we wrapped up our session and publisher appointment one had come to a not so satisfactory close.
i had a short break in between appointments and made a beeline for my room. pushing a few tears away in the buzz of my hurry. i felt like everyone waiting outside in the hallway had their eyes on me, on my humiliation.
it's like sometimes in the push, isn't it?
we push and we push and we push, but someone pushes it all right back at us. it's not an easy place to be. i felt completely defeated. immediately, i could hear satan's slippery seduction of self-doubt begin, "you're not cut out for this." and,"who do you think you are, anyway?"
in the very first session of the weekend, one of the speakers, sharon glasgow, talked to us about those words that the devil would be working hard to whisper into us. i mean she just flat out told us, “he’s gonna show up girls. if you put yourself out there wanting to proclaim Christ, he’s going to come calling.”
and come calling he did. he was right there waiting to pounce when i walked out the door from that first appointment. and he stalked me all the way back to my room hovering over my shoulder and continuing to taunt, "maybe, jody mcnatt, maybe this just isn't for you..."
the speaker had not only warned us in that first session, but she had also equipped us. "get thee behind me satan!” she had us practice out loud. and it came in handy. i literally had to stand in my hotel room and yell, “get thee behind me satan!” (don’t you sort of wish you could have been a fly on the wall). but, as funny as that sounds, in all seriousness, i really did have to push the devil down and push closer in to Jesus.
i knew it would be the only way.
rejection is hard.
and this was (and is) only the beginning.
i powdered my nose, pulled myself together and pushed myself back out the door. slamming satan’s slivery self in the heavy hotel door i hoped. i had a few more appointments. the push was going to get easier, i had not only tasted my first rejection, but i had given the evil one a swift kick in his can.
the good news is i did get a lot of great feedback. the other publishers had some positive comments about my writing, my story and the strength of my voice. that was really cool. tell me more. tell me more. oh pullleeeaase tell me more.
but, guess what? the second person pushed it back across the table, too.
get thee behind me satan!
well, i have no intention to give you a play by play of every publisher moment, (is that cheering i hear?) but here’s the wrap up: by the time the day was over, i had two publishers reject it and two publishers agree to accept and consider it further. i guess that's not all that bad. no one stood up on a chair and clapped for me. and no one took one look and asked where i’d been all these years, but the experience taught me, the experience pushed me.
and the silver lining: i didn’t throw up on anyone’s shoes.
hard things are like that. they push. and i guess what i learned a little bit better this weekend? we have a choice in the push. are they going to push us down or push us forward?
are we going to hold our God-given ground and say, get thee behind me satan or are we going to push the door closed and collapse?
one thing i kept hearing this weekend was how important it is that we not tie our identity to our insecurities. think about that. in fact, maybe write it in your journal. if i had decided to anchor myself to my book proposal, i would have sank right down with it. i put a lot of myself into that proposal last month, but it is not me and it will not define me, but be a defining moment for me. there’s a difference, sweet friends.
i don't really think those publishers who rejected my proposal are exactly agents of the devil. really i don't. as hard as rejection is, we have to remember God uses it to call us to something else.
Christ came and... "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain." (isaiah 53:3). Jesus knows what rejection feels like. He came to earth with the best proposal ever written ... ever told ... ever pushed across any table.
and His proposal took Him to the cross.
as hard as it was and as much as He wanted his Father to take it from Him, He allowed Himself to be nailed down and pushed up onto a hill called golgotha.
at any moment He could have pushed the entire menacing world into the pit of hell, but, instead, He pushed closer to His Father and He pushed for us out of love.
i guess that quickly puts my piddly little book proposal in perspective, doesn't it?
but the fantastic thing is, because of what Christ did on that cross, even the piddly things we do, even the baby steps of faith we take, are covered in the same powerful push of His love. He cares about them because He cares about us.
and when we have those little doubts that we aren’t enough or we’re not so great, remember the push of His love on the cross and remember the words, “get thee behind me satan!”
oh, and if i caused any confusion with my opening sentence, i'm sorry. we're absolutely not pregnant!