Stories that Matter

Affirmation, Confirmation and A Smack Upside The Head

I’m sitting here in my room on the last morning of the ACFW conference in Dallas. It’s early. Breakfast isn’t until 9am today. But I’m wide awake. I’ve had an amazing four days. Hung out with dear friends, had some great meetings and learned so much. My head is still swirling, processing information,  remembering conversations, putting all the details into little prioritized boxes and desperately hoping to hold onto every last one.

My heart is full.

I’ve been coming to these conferences pretty much every year since I joined this amazing organization back in 2005. I’ve only missed one year. I remember that first conference when I arrived, in fear and trembling, not really knowing what to expect, and returning home with new knowledge of what it meant to be a writer, a woman of faith, and a sojourner on a journey that so many others were traveling right along with me.

Coming here, sharing sweet fellowship with all these other amazing writers, soaking up the lessons taught by those who are so much further ahead than I, basking in the sheer energy that abounds in this place where we gather…and knowing we are all connected through the love and mercy of Jesus …there is truly nothing like it.

I used to come with a suitcase full of expectation. (Who am I kidding? It’s sitting on the floor over there).  I needed an agent. Then I needed a publisher. Then I needed… Are you seeing the pattern here? It’s all about me. Right?

No.

It’s not.

From the moment I arrived here on Wednesday night, there has been one message, over and over and over. Because I’m a little stupid sometimes. I need things repeated so they really sink in. I hear what I’m supposed to, think, oh yeah, cool, then go on my merry way, dragging that heavy bag of expectations behind me. And to tell you the truth, since becoming a published author, I’ve packed more crap into it. My shoulders are sore from carrying it around. My head aches and my stomach is constantly in knots. What if I’m really not good enough for this? Why do those sales figures suck? How can I do this better? What if…  The questions pitch hard and fast until eventually I can’t take one more. Because I don’t have the answers.

God does.

And over the past four days, He’s been dealing with me. Telling me, like only He can, to sit down and shut up. Quit worrying about getting it right. Quit worrying about being successful. Quit worrying where its all going from here. Just. Quit. It.

He’s got this.

Boy did I need that message. I mean, I knew it. I’m a good little Christian. Of course God’s in control. Of course this is all for Him. Of course it doesn’t matter whether I’m a success…

Really? Ha. It matters. You and I both know that. Who wants to be a failure? Nobody. And I believe it’s okay to want success. It’s okay to want to land that contract with a dream publisher. Heck, it’s okay to dream about hitting the New York Times bestseller list. But it’s not okay to be consumed by it all. Because then we’re shutting out God. We’re letting Him stand in the wings, watching, while we take all the glory. And when we take the fall, which we will at some poin, we expect Him to be there to catch us anyway. And He does. Because that’s how much He loves us.

So really, what’s all this about? For me, it’s about having the freedom to say, yeah, this gig is cool, I love doing what I do, I love having those surreal moments when you’re talking to two bestselling authors and one looks at me and says to the other, “You would just love Cathy’s writing…” Yes, stroke my ego…but wow. How did I get here? Did I do this all by myself? Because I’m just that good, right? Wrong. 

I am in this place because God has allowed me to be. He has gifted me with the great honor of working for Him. With each word I write, each connection I make, each person I touch, it’s all for Him. And knowing that, feeling that, accepting it and walking in it, allows me the freedom to throw away that trunk of expectation. I don’t have to succeed in the world’s eyes.

Because in God’s eyes, I already have.

And so I journey on…but what joy to know it doesn’t matter where this all ends up. I’m just along for the ride. I don’t have to drive. I can feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, and I grin wide with the sheer pleasure of knowing that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Do you know where you’re supposed to be this morning? 

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10 Comments

  1. Dixie on September 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    As I venture into self publishing my first book I, too, along my journey have been stopped in my tracks on numerous occasions by God. He reminds me the adventure is with Him and I need not stress in my endeavors and try to ‘make’ things happen…..He has the plan all mapped out already and I just need to enjoy the many blessings along the way as He opens the doors…thanks for the encouragment……

    • Cathy West on September 24, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Hi Dixie, glad you stopped by. It’s a long, tough road sometimes, and I’m very blessed to have fellow authors traveling along with me!

  2. Ginny Jaques on September 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I can so relate to everything you say here, Cathy. Thanks for the excellent reminder of where the priorities belong. I need to remember that everything I am and have comes from Him and belongs to him, and that he is willing and able to take responsibility for everything I devote to him. So glad you had such a great weekend. I was thinking about all of you.

    • Cathy West on September 24, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Ginny, you will have to come along one of these years! We had a good Beyond the Borders turnout!

  3. Susan Mason on September 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    So very true, Cathy! Thanks for those beautiful words!

    And thanks for posting all the pictures so I can feel like I was there!

    Cheers,
    Sue

    • Cathy West on September 24, 2012 at 8:36 am

      You will have to come next time, we missed you!!

  4. Richard Mabry on September 24, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Cathy, Good to see you, although our encounters were mere snippets of a visit. I’m writing this at my desk this morning, because we met an hour away from my home. The meeting, to me, has always been about people, encounters, and getting in touch with God’s vision for my writing journey–and this time next year, I’ll need a booster shot.
    Thanks for the post, and travel safely, friend.

    • Cathy West on September 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      Thanks, Richard! Looking forward to spending more time with you in a much more relaxed setting in a week or so!!

  5. Keli Gwyn on September 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Cathy, I enjoyed getting to spend time with you. Isn’t it wonderful the way the Lord meets us at conference and gives us just what we need to hear?

    • Cathy West on September 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      Yes. He always knows just how to orchestrate everything perfectly!

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