Nine years ago, about the time my oldest daughter came along, I put my writing career on pause. Three children and a lifetime later (last summer), Tim and I decided the time had come for me to jump back in…or at least dip a few toes in the publishing waters.
What I discovered is a pool full of fishy words like tribe, niche, and platform – squirmy little devils I haven’t a clue how to catch.
What is my niche? What do I have to offer the world? The answer to this question, I’m told, will make or break every writer in today’s noisy, media-saturated world. Unfortunately my answer keeps coming back the same: Squat. I’m relatively young. My life experience is less than exceptional. I’m not an expert on anything, except maybe being myself (and even that’s debatable).
I don’t have Beth Moore’s insight, Jen Hatmaker’s wit, or Ann Voskamp’s prose. All I have are my stories, my flaws, and my willingness to be honest about them.
So let’s start there.
To Be Honest…
I believe the Bible, I serve at church, I teach my children about Jesus…but most days my relationship with him is about as comfortable as a blind date. I once drew strength and comfort from time spent in Scripture or prayer – lately all I draw are blanks. How do I pray? Is he hearing me? What does that verse mean? Am I as lukewarm as I feel?
I’m surrounded by people like me – mostly middle class, 30-something-year-old moms who grew up in church and are now raising their children to love Jesus, study hard, and be socially responsible.
Unfortunately we’re all so busy most of our interaction occurs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, so I’m constantly assuming all my friends have it together way more than I do, especially in the spiritual department. They’re always “sending thoughts and prayers” to those in need, praising God for life’s simple pleasures, and rocking the socks off their divinely appointed responsibilities as wife and/or mother.
I, on the other hand, often have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. My goal is to get the children fed, watered, and distracted as quickly as possible so I can attack whatever burden weighs heaviest on my overladen to-do list. While praise music plays in the background, I slog through chores, wondering why my house is always a disaster, who stole my energy, and how my friends find time to take their kids to pottery class or conduct just-for-fun science experiments when most days I’m lucky to remember deodorant.
More days than not I wrestle with anxiety, impatience, resentment, depression, ingratitude, and cynicism. The abundant life I hear about from other Christ-followers feels about as substantial as wet toilet paper.
I’m not sharing this to drag myself or anyone else down, and I’m not looking for psychoanalysis. I’m sharing because I don’t think I’m the only one putting on an Instagram smile while my heart crumbles from spiritual drought – and because I believe despite (or because of) the multitude of words we feast on each day we’re all starving for honesty.
If you’re anything like me, sometimes hearing someone say, “You’re not alone – I feel the same way,” is exactly what you need to muster a little proactive energy. I’m not okay with burnout, complacency, or spiritual depression, and I hope you’re not either.
Over the next few weeks – or however long it takes – I’ll be blog-pondering how I got here (to the desert) and what to do about it. Will you join me? I’m not just looking for readers, I’m looking for feedback. Have you been to the “desert?” Are you still there?
Beyond that, how can I as a writer serve you? What topics would you like to read about/discuss? Please comment below, send me an email, or connect with me on Facebook. I need your input. Honest.