Check this out – I snapped this picture with my phone on the way to the post office a few weeks ago:
Yeah, it’s a publishing contract! I know! I know!
After eight long months of wilderness wandering, I’ve finally stepped onto a new path – though it’s not the path I anticipated or perhaps even initially desired.
You might remember that my original book proposal was turned down no fewer than 15 times over the past several months. The hard truth is that Spiritual Misfit simply didn’t sell well enough for publishers to risk another memoirish book from me right now, and so I had to put the dream of another memoirish book on the back burner. That was tough. Really tough.
But here’s the good news:
God is not a God of dead-ends and dashed hopes; he is a God of promise and new beginnings – though we don’t always recognize those new beginnings at first.
A few months ago, my 50 Women editor Chad and I chatted, and as a result, we came up with an idea for a book. The problem, though, was that initially I didn’t want to write this particular book. This book felt too big for me; too smarty-pants; too important. I felt under-qualified and just plain not smart enough to write this book. I imagined a professor-type writing this book – someone who wore tweed and smoked a pipe and listened to opera on NPR.
So I sat on the idea. I didn’t write the proposal. I didn’t pursue it. I told my editor I would “think about it,” and then I swept the idea under the rug.
Until, that is, I happened to mention the idea to three close friends…all three of whom said, “Um, Michelle, I hate to break it to you, but I think God might be in this. I think this might be your next book.”
I hadn’t seen it that way at all.
My own ideas and expectations of what my next book should look like blinded me to the opportunity looking me square in the face. I didn’t recognize the opportunity, I didn’t see the path, because it didn’t look exactly the way I’d imagined and expected it should.
Thank God for friends who show us the path when our own expectations blind us to God’s abundant gifts.
Thank God for friends who encourage us when we feel inadequate, unworthy and afraid, who remind us that we don’t have to be a tweed-wearing, opera-listening, smarty-pants to write a particular kind of book.
Thank God for friends who say, “This, this right here, is the way; now walk in it.”
So yeah, I’m walking a brand-new path, friends – an unfamiliar, mountainous path, full of twists and turns and potholes.
I’m writing a full-length biography of Martin and Katharina Luther’s marriage – an “insider” look at their lives together, not just as reformer/theologian and run-away nun, but as husband and wife, man and woman. It will be released by Baker Books in early 2017 – just in time for the historic 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
I am equal parts excited and terrified (actually, more like 90 percent terrified, 10 percent excited). My desk looks like this:
The first time I went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln library and gazed at the floor-to-almost-ceiling shelves of books, hundreds of books by and about Martin Luther (half of them written in German for pete’s sake), I cried. Hidden amid the stacks, I actually cried.
Because who am I, right? Who am I to write a book about Martin Luther when So. Many. Books. have already been written about him? What in the world do I have to say that could possibly matter? What can I possibly add to the thousands (millions?) of words already written?
Honestly? I don’t know. But I do know this:
Three friends, my husband, my editor and perhaps even God believe that I can and should write this book, that it does matter, that I will have something to say and that in its own little way, it will make a difference.
And so I said yes. I signed the contract, I dropped it off at the post office, and I checked out the first of dozens and dozens of books about Martin Luther from the University of Nebraska-Library. I stepped onto the path, even though the path doesn’t look like I thought or even hoped it would.
I stepped onto this unfamilar path, trusting and believing that God is not a God of dead-ends and dashed hopes, but a God of promise and new beginnings.
Q4U: Have your own expectations ever blinded you to a new opportunity? Could it be that you are looking at a new path right this minute and simply don’t recognize it because it doesn’t look like you expected or hoped it would?