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Friday, April 13, 2012

Walking in the Rain

I woke up at four-thirty this morning, to the sound of thunder. My first thought was “darn it, no writing on the deck today.” It’s amazing how my perspective has changed since I started writing out my thoughts and sharing them with you guys. Usually when I wake up early to the sound of thunder I make immediate adjustments to blow off whatever I originally planned and spend the day in bed watching TV and taking naps instead.

The rain is crazy and by midmorning, it’s still thundering and lightning and pouring and I’m cuddled next to the puppy, who refuses to go outside and do her morning business, so we’ve had a couple of accidents to clean up. Which is annoying and she should be glad she’s so cute.

Today is my thirty-third day of keeping commitments in a focused manner. One more week until I reach day forty and it’s been one of the hardest times of my life. So I’ve been thinking about this past month or so today while the puppy cuddles and the rain falls and the thunder rumbles.

A month ago, I sort of felt like I imagine the puppy feels, refusing to go outside in the storm. Leaving my house, stepping out, risking harm. It was too much for me and I would have done almost anything to stay inside, safe, even though I knew I wasn’t happy. That’s where the puppy metaphor ends—I have never peed on the floor, although after pushing out four babies, there’s the occasional and unfortunate sneezing issue—but let’s not go there.

I have been thinking about the people filling up my life over the last few weeks. Lori, my counselor, whom I’ve known many years and had no idea she was so wise. Karen, my agent—who is kind and sensitive and doesn’t worry about whether I’m making her any money right now, because God is her source, not me. Pastor Matt, who opens his heart and shares stories that really are everything a story should be (as a writer, I feel especially qualified to make this observation) and make me laugh and cry and grateful to attend a church where God lives. Aimee, whose God-touched voice takes me into His presence. Miss Linda, my super-spiritual mentor-friend who loves me even though she doesn’t really understand why I don’t just get it together. My hilarious brother Bill, who brings me sausage from Louisiana and cooks his corned beef in the oven. Of course my friend, Laura and her Jesus—and Tracey—loving kids.

And I thought about the people I’ve spent time with, had great conversations with: Larry, my friend who is writing a great book that actually was the reason I took the 40 day challenge in the first place, Kim-who unfortunately got hit by a sixteen year old driving in front of my house Easter when she was coming here for dinner, Ginger, a long-time friend and mentor who has more faith than anyone I know. Fred and Julie and Paul and Jeanette—our “couple” friends who come for gumbo every few months and bring their kids and make me laugh so hard I’m sucking on throat lozenges the next day. And those aren’t all of them—the friends I’ve connected with this past month—invited over, spoken to at church, met for coffee to talk about God and writing.
And something hit me, not lightning—because I’m staying inside—but almost as jolting: The thought occurs to me…I have people.

A month ago if you asked me to look back on my month and talk about relationships, I only could have told you about my family—I hadn’t gone anywhere, including church, I hadn’t invited anyone over. I refused lunch and coffee invitations and ignored my phone. By accepting the 40-day challenge in Larry’s (not yet published) book, and actually sticking with it, God is daily widening my horizons, teaching me to expand my heart, stretching the borders of my small world.

A writer’s life can be lonely, and over the past 12 years, I’ve embraced that—it was just the excuse I needed to hide from people, because people scared me. Fear of criticism, rejection, fear they would see through me and realize I’m nothing special.

And I’m not saying a month has magically made me all better. I still have resistance to sharing myself with people and simply walking out the door is panic-inducing at times. Even now, I’m a few hours away from a women’s conference I’ve been looking forward to in theory, but now I’d give almost anything to go back a couple of weeks and not have bought the ticket in the first place—but it’s a commitment. One I know I’ll be glad I kept once I’m there.

That’s the way it is sometimes. Flexing weak muscles. Opening eyes I’ve squeezed shut for so long the light makes me squint.

Stepping outside and walking in the rain.

1 comment:

Christine Lynxwiler said...

So proud of you, Trace. Reading your blog makes me feel like King Agrippa. . .(or was it Felix? Why do I always get those mixed up?) - Almost persuaded to make that 40 day commitment myself. I, of all people, know it's not easy but I really admire that you're doing it. And if this wonderful blog is a by-product of it, we should all be thankful! Hope the conference is great! Love you.

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