Next week, my first novel, Stronghold, will become available to the public, to those who know me and those who do not, to those who believe as I do and to those who don’t, to those who will like it and those who won’t.
Regrettably, I have carried a load of stress in the last several days leading to this. I have felt the clock tick as my initial readers found last minute errors I had missed, as they reacted in ways different than I expected, as the disappointing realities I have previously discussed came to fruition. The burden of this has weighed heavily on my mind and infiltrated my demeanor. Some of my attitudes have been unacceptable, and I have been forced to process through a range of emotions that cut deeply and sting when doing so. I have had to apologize; I have had to repent. Ultimately, I’ve had to let go of my expectations.
And it’s been the best thing that could have happened, especially before release.
Once the book goes live, the train will leave the station. It will move on a track that God has ordained, and I cannot control that. He has prepared the hearts and minds of those with whom it will connect. They will find it, and he will get his glory. This side of heaven, I may never know who they are, and I have come to grips with that. More importantly, however, I have come to grips with the fact that those near me, those close to me and around me–perhaps those whose approval I want most–may not be the persons for whom God led me to write this book. I have to come to realize that their dislike of it is in no way a rejection of me (or God) but simply the reality that no art speaks to everyone, and the artist cannot and should not expect this, no matter how passionate he or she feels.
I take great joy in this, for it opens me to grander possibilities that God is using my work in ways I do now know, even as things in front of me are not what I would have desired. If this is really God’s book, if I wrote it in obedience to his calling to share my heart, if I offered it back to him and said “this is for you; this is my worship”, then I have nothing to fear in the face of man’s rejection and no reason for disappointment if God uses it in ways I don’t expect or cannot see. God will do as he pleases, and he will do rightly, far better than I would do if I were in control. In my prayers of late, one thing has resounded in my mind: God will shock us with his goodness.
As a creative person, these realities are perhaps the most encouraging and helpful ones I could possibly encounter in this season of life, and I am glad to have learned them now rather than in several months, after failing to properly assess the responses of others and destroying relationships as a result. Of course, these are simply words. The test will be how I react when the feedback begins to arrive. I hope that you will provide me with it and force me to live out what I have claimed.
Thanks for reading, enjoy the holiday weekend. With much love and affection,
Enjoy what you are reading??? Let’s connect. I'm currently on Instagram, Letterboxd, Flickr, Twitter, always as CJstunkard.