I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it with fake news! It’s time to get real.
And I’m not just talking about the parade of false narratives coming out of Washington, DC either–although I’m certainly tired of those! I’m talking about the false narratives that invade our daily lives and inform our daily decisions. The narratives that shape our worldview about things like relationships, beauty, success and happiness. So many of our ideas about such things are dictated by media–social media, news media, entertainment television, print media and, of course, Hollywood–but when we finally power off the devices we still have to deal with the realities, whether we like them or not. So what happens when our reality doesn’t look like all the pretty pictures we spend so many hours of our day staring at? Depression? Anxiety? Stress?
How does the disconnect between what’s real and what’s perceived affect our relationships?
Recently, a few of my girlfriends and I were talking about “the real deal” when it comes to our relationships and we realized that our personal stories might resonate with some of you. We’re all married and we each have had unique experiences before and since becoming married women. When we get together our stories are…hilarious at times, but more importantly they are real!
So, there are lots of relationship books on the market–lots of books that will tell you how to have a happy marriage–lots of “how to” and 10 steps to, and the Five Love Languages… and those are all great! We’ve read them! But at the end of the day, when you’re face to face with your spouse and he’s getting on your LAST NERVE! What are some of the words that come out of your mouth in that moment? Well…
We’ll share some of our moments with you in our up coming book… The The Real Deal: Finding the Truth Through our Stories. (working title)
Now, granted, we’re not experts on marriage or relationships, we’ve just been married a long time and have lots of trial-and-error stories to share that have taught us things about ourselves, our spouses and marriage in general. We’re also still learning, but the reality is, that’s life! It’s a work in progress! The real deal is relationships don’t fit into nice, neat categories or tidy 10-step plans. You figure it out as you go.
So, we’re dumping the fake news and we’re just going to give it to you straight! Are you ready for it? We can’t wait to share!
In the coming weeks I’ll tell you more about the book, our Facebook Live chat and all the other plans in the making for this new venture. I’m excited about what’s in store and I hope you’ll come along for the ride!
In an earlier post I mentioned that I had the privilege of meeting the author of the best-selling novel, The Shack, and I wanted to tell you more about that incredible experience. William Paul Young has done many interviews and his story is well-known. His book, which was published in 2007 has now been made into a major motion picture starring Tim McGraw, Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington. There’s no need for me to re-hash what you, likely, already know or what you can easily Google, so instead, let me tell you what impressed me about Young from a writer’s perspective.
I asked W. Paul Young to talk to my students about writing and how he came to write The Shack in the first place. What struck me about Paul’s response was his apparent lack of ambition: “I just wrote it as a gift for my kids,” he said, quite matter- of-factly. He said he had no expectations or intentions when he wrote it–the exact opposite of what I see in most writers who absolutely crave the attention and approval of their audience. Not Paul Young.
If you ever get a chance to meet him, you’ll notice right away, he’s an easy-going guy. His words and manner flow freely. He greets everyone with a warm hug and a smile– as if he’s known you all along! “My wife’s name is Kim, so I’ll never forget your name” he said to me when we met and I was pleasantly surprised by his friendliness. I was embarrassed to escort him through our antiquated building with its creaky stairs and musty, basement classroom. I tried, in vain, to apologize for the less than stellar accommodations where he would be addressing our students, but he waved away my self-pity, shoved his hands into his jeans pockets and proceeded to share his story with the students. He cared not one bit about the chipped paint or the tattered seats, but cared immediately for each upturned face, each student who listened intently. Leaning casually on the teacher’s desk, he spoke from the heart and told the secret to his success–yet, the secret might surprise you!
Paul says when he wrote The Shack he had no intention of publishing it beyond the 15 copies he made at the Office Depot because his wife had asked him to write something for the kids– to put down on paper all that was going on in his head. She had no idea the finished product would be a 250pg. novel! And Paul had no idea it would impact so many people’s lives. He says it was through the story that he worked out his own questions about God and found peace. At the age of 50, for the first time in his life, William Paul Young says he finally obtained ten crucial elements that allowed him perfect peace:
identity, worth, value, meaning, purpose,
destiny, significance, security, community and love
which is why he was perfectly content with his job as a janitor scrubbing toilets and had no burning desire to sell his book–nor did he have any inkling that it might one day be a multi-million dollar blockbuster movie! All of that happened because of a bigger plan that was operating outside of Paul’s control.
As a writer, he just worked out his questions through the fictional, yet “true,” story and allowed God to handle the rest.
I know. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Yet, the lesson for me—and all the other writers out there—is who are you before you sit down to write?
Paul says he was completely fulfilled, happy and at peace working three jobs before he ever published a single copy of The Shack! So, if our whole identity is wrapped up in our profession, in our craft, in our possessions—in anything that is outside of us—will we ever find that perfect peace that Paul described? It seems that his success with The Shack flowed naturally from his own place of peace rather than from any striving or effort on his part, and I realize that was the secret to his success—securing success before his success. For him it meant finding the answers to his questions about God and settling into a loving relationship with his God, family and community as a result. Then, when he sat down to write, it all began to come together.
Paul told us that people often say they want God to “use” them, but God has no need to “use” us. Instead, God invites us to be a part of something, to join Him, if we will, to take part in His divine plan. The work and the striving that we do suggests so much effort on our part, but when we rest and wait to see how we can join in with God’s plan that’s already in place, there’s such an ease and freedom that follows, an ease that W. Paul Young exudes and that, apparently, has manifested in all his successes.
Paul’s talk has made me think differently about my own striving towards success as a writer. Perhaps my focus should be less on where my work will go, who will read it, where or whether it will ever be published. Instead, I may just need to write and see what happens. There may be a plan in place for my writing that I know nothing about! The same is true for you–in whatever area you hope to be successful in. Why don’t we wait and see? 🙂