“I never pray for patience,” my husband said matter-of-factly. “For I know if I do, I am going to end up in a traffic jam.”
There is a bit of truth to that statement. I have the feeling, it sums up how many of us feel about the idea of learning patience.
The reality is,
And the risk we take is actually admitting we are impatient. I sure don’t like admitting that to anyone, at least not out loud.
Well, here lately, I have been having those “traffic jam” moments. Not just one. But, quite a few of them. Which has caused me to realize that God has been trying to teach me something.
LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE
In the last year, I have embarked on something new to me. I have entered into the world of traditional book publishing.
For years, God has been working on my heart, redeeming my past, and challenging my point of view to help me see how He has gifted me to write. This blog, in fact, became a part of my leap of faith in getting started with a public writing ministry again.
But God, was patient with me in my scooting around His truth, and after a few months of blogging, reminded me how He had laid on my heart to write a book about overcoming the addiction to approval, not start a blog as I had done.
And so I went, rooting out my old book proposal from years ago, reading it again and coming to the realization that it was actually quite good. Which was a totally surprise me.
And so I decided I needed to obey God to obtain an agent to get my book published.
Now in theory, that sounds wonderful. But, in practicality it is a whole different story. You see in the publishing world things can move at a snails pace. A book that you get sold now may not be actually published until two years from now.
But for the sake of my example, and how God taught me how to be patient when I am being impatient, allow me just a moment to share with you how this long, tedious process works.
First you need to send an email to an agent to query them on your book idea. Different agents have different submission guidelines but most of the time they either want an entire book proposal or the first few pages of your book. You can choose to do snail mail if you still live in the dark ages, but really an email works just fine.
4-6 weeks later, get an email back that will indicate their interest. Check your email incessantly day after day, hoping, no, WILLING, an email to come back from said agent, all the while being slightly fearful of what their email might say.
Receive email. Hallelujah!!! Hear angels singing, scream at the top of your lungs. (Oh wait, maybe that was just me.) Decide if I you should open email with friends or alone where no one can read the rejection with you.
You will know almost immediately whether or not they are interested. Agents are also writers, and they typically get to the point. Why dilly-dally.
Honestly, I think this process is to really train you for the long haul. I mean, it’s like becoming a runner. You don’t do a marathon before you run a 5k. In the book-publishing world, you need to be ready for the marathon; this is training for the long, hard race.
Back in January was when this all began. It took three different email inquiries to find an agent who showed interested. Hallelujah! I may or may not have screamed out loud in my office by myself, with no one around to say whether or not it happened. I plead the 5th.
But, because I am an unpublished author, the agent requested I write the manuscript before he’d consider signing me. Sigh. Hey if it was easy, everyone would do it.
Wait again. This time you are working frantically while you wait, because now you must produce the very thing you said you could. But nonetheless, it feels like a long drawn out wait because you won’t get an answer on representation until the manuscript is done.
And I don’t know about you, but I can’t produce a 50,000-60,000 word manuscript to perfection overnight.
Now fast forward a few months. Writing. Living. Writing some more.
During that time I decide I am going to attend a writer’s conference where I can pitch my idea to other agents (it’s a free market) and editors from various publishing houses. While also making contacts, learning how to write better and eventually market said book.
Good news! Conference went really well and had lots of interest.
Get home from conference to follow up with everyone I met with to send book proposals and thank you notes.
Email. Email. Email some more. And wait.
A few were quick to return responses within a week.
However, others, well, that is where the waiting patiently muscle has to be flexed.
Week, after week, after week, after week…nothing.
So now it’s been 9 months since I first started sending out the book proposal to agents and I have not signed with an agent, yet still have three I am waiting on response from. And an email inbox just waiting to receive their email.
Sigh. If only we could will an answer.
Oh and prayer? Yes, ma’am, pretty please, and believe me you there has been a lot of that going on.
DO THE OPPOSITE OF PATIENT
But these past few weeks I started to realize something about myself. I no longer having an internal struggle of impatience; it started erupting out of every part of me.
My arms would start flailing as I passionately expressed my challenges with this industry and process. My voice would get louder. I sometimes sounded, angry. Angry? Where did that come from? I mean, the view from the outside may be that of a child, throwing a fit.
Not me! I wouldn’t do that. Sigh. Blush. But I did. Oh yes I did.
So this week I reflected on the feelings being expressed during the wait. First of, I recognized how irritated I had become. Even offended, at times. It didn’t help that I compared their lack of response to other agents I was communicating with recently. Then there was the moaning, complaining and then my moments of venting annoyance.
And here is what the Holy Spirit, in my seeking said to me. Okay, really the Holy Spirit did not speak in an audible voice from heaven. It actually came from a colleague…but oh I knew it was Him as soon as she said it.
Here is what she said, “Do you not trust the Lord to supply the right agent at the right time. I mean, He got you this far. He’s not going to let you down now.”
Ouch. Anyone else have a friend like that? Man are they annoying.
But truly, we all need friends like these who listen to the Lord and are not afraid to share a fresh word of truth to us.
She was right. God was right. I was not trusting. My response was immature and completely impatient.
SURRENDER AND TRUST
The Lord’s intent was to teach me patience, however, I did the exact opposite.
But I learned an important lesson in this and maybe it will help you too.
It’s doing the exact opposite of the thing you are doing. You see, I was playing tug-o-war with the Lord. I am a Bible-believing Christian. I do my quiet times in the morning. I spend time praying throughout the day.
Many times I would say to myself “I trust you Lord. Whatever you want Lord, I trust you.”
But I was taking it back. Every time I asked the question, why haven’t I heard yet? Every time I wondered if they had forgotten about me. When someone would ask how the process was going, it felt like salt in the wound, I wanted to be able to say I had an agent, a book contract the whole shebang.
You and I may believe God’s timing is perfect, but are we really surrendering our plans, our dreams, and our goals to allow Him to work them out in His timing. Or are we playing tug-of-war with our emotions, when the reality is we really aren’t in control.
So here is what I did. Maybe it is what you need to do too.
I went home. I picked up my laptop computer and I placed it in my hands. I literally lifted it off the table. You see, most days my hands are typing on the keyboard, holding it into place, keeping it under my control. But that night, I gave it all over to the Lord.
I repeated what Job said after he lost everything, “The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
His timing is perfect. His plan is already in place. Do you trust Him?
The only way you are ever going to be able to show patience in the midst of impatience is if you surrender it all and trust Him to do the work He is more than capable of doing. Let Him be your advocate. And lay the rope down.
What are you struggling with right now that is making you extremely impatient? Is there something that represents what are you are struggling with that you can use as you surrender and trust the Lord?