Stories that Matter

If You Don't Know Me By Now …

We’re almost at the mid-point of the year and I’m … re-grouping. Breathing deep and re-evaluating, sorting boxes in my head and sticking to what is true. Discarding what is not. Figuring out who this girl really is. I haven’t always known for sure. Fear of failure and self-doubt swirl like monster waves and I’ve had to dive deep to find real answers. I’ve had to cling to truth like a life raft and kick off lies that circle like hungry sharks.

That gets tiring.

I’m resting now. Trying to enjoy a few months of peace before I jump into edits and start preparing for the launch of my first book with Thomas Nelson next July. And, yes, I’m still grinning when I write that. But I know it’s not going to be easy. Changes must be made. Ironically, my word for the year is change. Go figure.

Can I give the world my stories and hide in the shadows of shaky self-confidence, hoping maybe no-one notices I’m even back there pressed against the wall? Truth be told, I like it here in my little hobbit hole. The world can be a scary place, and oftentimes I’m more content to let it sail on by without me. I prefer to hold it all at arm’s length. If you don’t get too close to the fire, you won’t get burned.

But, as I’ve learned, sooner or later you wake up smack dab in the middle of that fire. And the only way out is to walk through. And you rarely come out unchanged.

Refiner’s Fire … 

If you’ve grown up in the church or are part of it now, you hear that term thrown around a lot. There are Scripture references to it, but my basic understanding is that, like silver, we are refined (purified, made better), by the fire. Life’s challenges, trials and temptations. How we go through them shapes us, empowers us and pushes us forward into new and better places. So I’m looking down at the coals I’ve dragged out with me … a pile of them actually, from every fire I’ve walked through, and I wonder if I just don’t get it. I wonder if I still resent those hard times, those crazy weird and wildly terrifying times when I didn’t know which end was up or if I’d even come out the other side okay. I wonder, maybe, if I resist the refining, because I’m not sure I can be all I’m supposed to be. All God wants me to be. Whatever that looks like.

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My daughter took this recent picture of me. I loathe getting my picture taken, but I needed some new shots for this new stage of my life, and I’m posting this here as an exercise in confidence. (But no, I don’t want this slapped on the side of a bus). Still I see beyond what others do. I know too much about myself and it’s easy to be critical. Because I’m still kicking coals and carrying bags of crap I should have dumped years ago.

Don’t Be Too Honest …

I’ve heard that. People don’t want to know all your business, and there’s just some stuff you keep to yourself. Yeah, okay. I get that. But I don’t know, I figure if I have to put myself out there, if I’m going to ask you to trust me as an author, I want you to know who I am. As a person, and a writer. And maybe you’ll share some of your stuff with me too.

Maybe I’m off base here. Maybe I should use this blog space in a different way. Maybe I shouldn’t blog at all. Blogs aren’t as big as they were a few years ago and it might just be a big waste of time. But if you’re here reading and have been for awhile, you know I don’t much care for convention.

You’ll know I don’t sugarcoat. What you get from me is pretty real, pretty raw, and sometimes, yeah, too personal. Read my books and you’ll get the same. Reality fiction.

As my friend Beth said to me last week in reference to my writing, “You don’t snorkel, you scuba dive.” I like the analogy. I’m trying to grasp the confidence to enjoy it, and know it’s true. Because I’m figuring out that this is who I am. You’d think I’d know it by now. Think I’d quit running from it already. But here we are.

I’m accepting the fact that I’m flawed, but show me someone who isn’t. And maybe growing up means getting comfortable in your own skin. Liking me for me. It’s a challenge most days. But I’m willing to keep at it. Willing to accept that I matter. Willing to acknowledge that my words matter. That the stories I have to tell are important and might touch lives. And the fact that I get to share them? To me, that’s a gift. One that I can only hope will be well received.

So today I’m pouring shots of confidence. On the house.

And those coals? They just got kicked back where they belong.

 

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16 Comments

  1. bethkvogt on June 15, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Girlfriend, I’ll scuba dive with you any day!

  2. Jennifer Zarifeh Major on June 15, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Beth is SO SPOT ON!!
    You dive, deep, and with big tanks so the reader can stay longer.
    I LOVE your words. Even a blog post has the power to knock me sideways.
    “So I’m looking down at the coals I’ve dragged out with me … a pile of them actually, from every fire I’ve walked through…”
    WHOA!!
    I have NEVER heard anything like that! Ever. That, girlfriend, is POWERFUL!!!
    No one ever talks about what we do after the fire. What we hold on to.
    You have a gift, Cathy. A GIFT.

    • Cathy West on June 15, 2015 at 11:20 am

      Aw. Well. Thank YOU. 🙂 I should have added, let’s not grow up too much, because, you know … that’s no fun. 🙂

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on June 15, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Love the picture, absolutely LOVE it. There stands a beautiful woman, with a charming sense of humor and fun. Yes, put it on bus-side hoardings, and lift the spirits of those passing by.

    Refiners’ fire…oy, how I loathe that phrase, generally used by people who see losing their cell phone as an example of God purifying their souls.

    Some fires simply burn people to death.

    And surviving is not always noble. It is not always pretty. Sometimes it’s an exercise in ruthlessness, or a study in focused adrenalin, that can never be repeated. And all of that is OK. We don’t need everything made into a moral lesson, an example of how God loves us even when we’re excavating a mass grave (for today, retribution has to be justified by forensics).

    Sometimes it’s all just crap, and God cries as hard as we do.

    But we have to believe that the veil of tears will lift, and the sun…the Son…will rise, and bring a new day.

    • Cathy West on June 15, 2015 at 11:34 am

      That is all true. I love your perspective. Thanks for sharing, Andrew!

      • Cathy West on June 15, 2015 at 11:44 am

        Well, maybe not all the stuff about me is true … 🙂 And I kind of think people who put their pictures on buses are … well. That’s not me. 🙂

  4. Melony Teague on June 15, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Excellent blog Cathy! My kind of honest truth. I APPRECIATE YOU!

  5. shellilittleton on June 16, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Thank you, Cathy. Fear of failure, self-doubt … oh, I get it. Writing is an uncertain world, at times … and you wonder what God is doing with you, through you … you just have to wait till you step of that fire to see. And then say, “Lord, this is me.” Are we more Christ-like? That’s got to be the goal. 🙂 You bless me, always.

    • Cathy West on June 17, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks Shelli! You speak truth. 🙂

  6. suzee on June 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    hey cath, could you be so kind as to pour me a double, please?
    love
    suzee B

  7. suzee on June 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    hey cath, could you be so kind as to pour me a double, please?
    love
    suzee B

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