In which I get fired, and God redeems
I’m 36 and still not entirely adjusted to being an adult.
A number of months ago, a much older friend asked me to help her as she wrote a book. I eagerly agreed, but my availability (not much) didn’t meet with her need (which was great). In a very tense moment, she fired me.
Actually, that “moment” was dragged out for a couple of weeks. She’d leave a message on my phone, and I’d think, “I’ll return her call after I get _________ done with her manuscript. I can carve out an hour this evening! I don’t want to talk with her until I have something really meaty to share.” But, that planned hour would be interrupted by something else, then a day would pass… then another few days… She — for obvious and understandable reasons — didn’t appreciate my lack of communication.
She’s not the kind who avoids confrontation and, by golly, she confronted me! It wasn’t comfortable. Not at all. But, I apologized, she forgave, and she went on with her book, using three other people to do the work that I had previously (sort of) been doing.
A few weeks ago, she called me to ask my opinion on something regarding the book. It was a lovely Sunday early evening, and I took my phone out with my baby in her stroller, and had a lovely, long walk, talking the while with my dear older friend, both about that “opinion” thing, and a few other things. The short version of what I told her was that I think that, rather than going the self-publishing route, she should at least try to get her book published the “traditional” way, rather than assuming that no publisher would want it. I also alerted her to the Christian Writer’s Market both as a resource for publishing sources, and for instruction on how to navigate the process.
It was a really good conversation. After that, I felt like peace between us had really been restored.
She asked me to review the now-finished manuscript, which she mailed to me. I spent just a couple of hours on it. We were going to discuss it at church on Sunday, but our responsibilities didn’t allow for any time together, so we ended up talking on the phone today.
We did talk about the book. The shortish version of our book discussion is that I told her I think the book is ready to be shopped to a publisher with the understanding that if they did accept it, it would be given a thorough going-over by one or more editors to correct the small problems that remain — mostly punctuation, paragraph breaks, some spelling issues, etc. And, that they would likely have more and different suggestions that would need further work. But, as far as I was concerned, the scope and sequence of book was great, the content of the book itself, the “art” of how it was told, etc. were all good. There are no longer any gaping holes in the manuscript. But that if she elected to go through a self-publisher, the book was NOT ready, because there remained quite a number of small errors. In other words, the book isn’t ready for publication, but it’s close.
Then… we ended up talking about a host of other things. I can’t begin to go into what we discussed; it’s personal, and the specifics aren’t really important here. What DID strike me, though, is the thought — yet again — of the amazing dynamics of the Body of Christ: how odd it is that a 36yo “kid” can advise, encourage, gently prod, enlighten, etc., a woman twice her age. This woman is a lady mature in her Christianity, as well as her years. But, the places where she needed some building up? Well, I had just the tools she needed. The places where she doubts? I have great faith. The things that are bringing her to tears? Well, I could only — literally — laugh with joy because she is just SO precious to me, and so tender, and I could see God’s hand truly working in her life and heart, even through her tears. I really believe God gave me words to speak to her. Several times, I stopped myself — sometimes in my thoughts, and sometimes with the confession to my friend, “I think maybe this is too bold” but I would just forge ahead, or she would spur me on. We both ended in tears — GOOD tears — sensing the Holy Spirit, encouraged in each other, twined together just a bit more in relationship, each blessed with the love of the other.
This whole dynamic was amazing to me. Not to her, though. She scoffed, “Does age really matter? In Christ, does it matter?” I think the older I get, the less age does matter, yet many times, I still feel like an immature kid who needs to keep her mouth sealed in the presence of her elders.
And to think: if the enemy would have had his way, our relationship would have dissolved in hurt and offense a couple of months ago.
But, our God is a redemptive God. He takes what the enemy means for our destruction, and turns it into the VERY bulwarks of strength in our lives. To what the world says, “Forget that. Chalk that up as a waste of time,” He says, “I will NOT forget it. Let me re-work it, recreate it, to be a thing of blessing not only to you, but to those around you. Let me redeem the time.”
I don’t know why I’m always so amazed at His… effectiveness as God. Still, I am. Maybe, though, that’s a good thing. The whole episode — both the good parts and the bad — just bring the reality of God the Father closer to me. I can know x, y, and z about God in my head, but when it plays out, and when He really shows up, it captures my heart.