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?
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.
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?