God is for You — Even When Life Isn’t (and a FREE Webcast!)

I’m thrilled to welcome my good friend Emily Wierenga here today, with a post that’s so close to my own heart. Emily is the most beautiful, eloquent, lyrical writer – have you read her memoir Atlas Girl yet? If not, snap it up, and then read the sequel, Making It Home, releasing on September 8.

 

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Post by Emily Wierenga:

“I don’t know how to tell you this, Emily, but—they said no.” I’m on the phone with my agent two weeks after giving birth to my nearly nine-pound Kasher and I’m crying before she starts because I know.

“It’s been so long,” I whisper. It’s all the breath left in me.

“I know—I’m so sorry,” she says, and we’re silent together, except for my hiccupping sobs. An editor has been courting the manuscript for a year, and after three hundred and sixty five days of waiting, the publishing board has said no and I have nothing.

Forgetting how doctors had said I wouldn’t be able to have children, forgetting about the miracle that lies in my arms and the other one that’s coloring a picture at the Ikea kids’ table. Forgetting about the man who lives to make me laugh, who’s making wine in the kitchen, forgetting the sound of Mum’s voice on the end of the line, the voice of a woman I’d thought would die now lives, healed of her brain tumor.

Forgetting that a book deal is not what gives me a name, but it’s all I hear: the sound of rejection on the other end of the line, the sound of me, being made a fool, for all my waiting and hoping. The champagne bottle unopened in the fridge.

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“Everything okay?” Trent mouths the words at me. I shake my head. Kasher asleep in my arms and my agent telling me I should spend some time writing what I want to write. To put this book aside and just do something that brings me joy.

I don’t know what that means. I don’t know how to do anything for joy and then I remember dating Trent. I remember that kiss in the rain outside his townhouse; I remember hours on the carpet with my head on his chest, talking, listening to the radio and I remember midnight bike rides to Rundle Park, playing Frisbee golf and watching movies just to hold each other’s hand.

A joy that writes what it wants to.

“Alright,” I say, and my agent prays with me and we say Goodbye.

I wonder how long she will put up with me. I haven’t sold anything yet and Aiden’s showing me his picture. It’s a scribble of green marker—his favorite color—and he’s got green on his lips and he’s smiling but his eyebrows are raised. He’s wondering if I like it, and he’s only two. His mommy’s fears course through him and I kneel down and hug him, tell him, “It’s magnificent, son, I can’t wait to hang it on the fridge,” and his small body relaxes.

He knows in this moment that I love him because I said I like his picture but I want for him what I want for me: the long-lasting sense of self in spite of what the world tells him. I want him to be so at peace that he can sleep in the boat while the storm rocks and I want him to know without a shadow of a doubt the confidence that makes a person walk on water.

And maybe if I learn it, he will too.

::

This excerpt is taken from Emily Wierenga’s new memoir (the sequel to Atlas Girl), Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose, which is available for order HERE.

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What does it mean to be a woman and to make a home? Does it mean homeschooling children or going to the office every day? Cooking gourmet meals and making Pinterest-worthy home décor? In Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose, author and blogger Emily Wierenga takes readers on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting and the daily struggle of longing to be known, inviting them into a quest for identity in the midst of life’s daily interruptions. Get your copy HERE. Proceeds benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu TreeGet FREE downloadable chapters from Making It Home HERE.

 

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Sign up for the FREE Making It Home webcast featuring Liz Curtis Higgs, Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Jo Ann Fore (with Emily Wierenga as host), 8 pm CT on September 10, 2015, HEREOnce you sign up you’ll be automatically entered for a giveaway of each of the author’s books!

 

Emily W headshotEmily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, columnist, artist, author, founder of The Lulu Tree and blogger at www.emilywierenga.com. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Relevant, Charisma, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, Dayspring’s (in)courage and Focus on the Family. She is the author of six books including the travel memoir Atlas Girl and speaks regularly about her journey with anorexia. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Trenton, and their children. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

Learning to Let Go of Outcomes

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I’ve been praying a new prayer lately. It goes like this: “God, help me be small. Help me embrace the small. Help me love and live the small. Amen.”

This is a big deal for me, because I am not ordinarily an embracer of the small. My prayers to God over the last 18 months have sounded more like this: “God, please help my book do better. Help me be more successful. Help me achieve my dreams of becoming a successful writer.”

See the trend there? Bigger, better, more. That’s who I’ve been my whole life: the achiever. The striver. The hard worker. Ambitious. Driven. Type A Times Ten. I knew that long before my StrenthsFinder results identified Discipline, Responsibility, Achiever and Focus as my top strengths. That’s who I am. I’m made that way.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with those qualities. They are strengths indeed. In fact, those qualities are quite useful; my go-get-ed-ness has helped me in more ways than I can count.

But my strengths have also hurt me because I have let them define me and dictate my life. I have let these particular strengths overshadow the whole person God has made me to be.

You might recall a post I wrote several months ago about a defining moment I experienced with God – a moment in which I heard him say, in so many unspoken words, “Trust me.” And then there was this more recent post, a simple word picture that I published a couple of months ago, inspired by this verse from Isaiah: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.”

I’ve been repeating those two phrases to myself for months now – trust me; return to me and rest in me. I knew somehow that God intended those two messages to go hand-in-hand, but I couldn’t quite figure out what he meant by them.

For a long time I thought God was trying to tell me something about my calling as a writer and my struggles with book publishing. I thought he might be saying something like, “Trust me with this, Michelle,” and “Rest in me, Michelle; I’ve got this.” I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I thought those words were God’s way of reassuring me: “Don’t worry, Michelle, I will make you a successful author in due time.”

Turns out, that’s what I wanted those words to mean. What God actually meant was something quite different.

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God, it turns out, wants to save me from myself.

In the words of Emily Freeman, God has been trying to teach me how to live in the kingdom he has built for me, rather than in the kingdom I have been trying to build for myself.

I am finally listening.

There’s nothing wrong with ambition, drive, dreams and success. There’s nothing wrong with working hard toward a goal. God has work for each one of us to do, and he expectes we won’t slack off in doing it.

However he also expects us to hand over the outcomes of our work. He expects us to rest in him. He expects us to do our best at the work he has given us to do, and then hand the rest to him: the expectations, the fears, the hopes, the outcomes, and even the results of our work.

This is where I go wrong every single time. I do the work, because I’m a Hard Worker, but then I cling with a vice-grip to the outcomes. And when the outcomes don’t line up with my expectations, I cling all the harder.

This clinging wears me out. It’s exhausting and disheartening and just plain depressing. It’s the clinging to the outcomes, not the work itself, that makes me question my career and calling. It’s the clinging that makes me wonder if I’ve made a grave mistake, if maybe I shouldn’t be a writer after all.

“The subtle difference between my work feeling heavy and my work feeling light,” writes Emily Freeman, “lies 100 percent in whether I’m holding onto the outcome of my work.”

When God said, “Trust me. Return to me and rest in me,” he was referring to something much, much bigger and much more important than publishing success and career success. He was talking about my relationship with him.

God is calling me to live here, right where I am, right where he has me for a reason. In the smallness. In the now. Regardless of outcomes. Regardless of results.

The truth is, I can’t be in right relationship with God while I am holding so tightly to something else. I can’t hold on to both God and outcomes. The outcomes have to go in order for me to live in a true and right relationship with God. He knows this.

It’s why he said, “Trust me.”

It’s why he said, “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.”

God wants to save me.

Simply-Tuesday-3D2This post was inspired by Emily Freeman’s new book Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. She didn’t ask me to write this post or talk about her book. I’m not on her launch team or anything like that. But I loved this book so much, I want to shout about it to the world. I read it through twice and took copious notes, and have been pondering and pondering her words and how God is speaking through her to me about my striving, bigger-better-more-more-more tendencies. Highly recommended, friends, especially if you happen to be a Type A Times Ten Strivey Striver like me.
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