Sometimes when I write, I wonder what the point is and what impact the words have. I’ve blogged for fifteen years (and wrote horrible diary entries for about 10 years before that…seriously, they are so dramatic and self-obsessed and boy crazy and just terrible) and if I calculated all of the time spent typing away, it would be thousands of hours easily. And for what? A few laughs, a few “likes.” So what?
I wrote a book and no one told me that the easy part about writing a book is writing the book. Someone has to care enough to publish you and then they have to care enough to promote your book and then you just hope and hope that your little book might somehow find its way magically to the people who will like it. It’s a process through which I only got through the very first step – writing the thing. It sits, like an unwanted hamster whose owner went away to college, in this laptop I’m typing at now, gathering cyber dust. I don’t have the time and I don’t want to spend the money it would take to get it out into the world. What I have to say can be said here. People trickle in, 50 here, 100 there. Hi, Friends. Mom. Connie. Aunt Barbara. Random person seeking cancer treatment tips. Hello. Welcome. I’ve made peace with my little audience. I write for people who love me, to share how I’m doing. And I write for strangers who are scared and overwhelmed and using their fingertips on a keyboard or touchscreen, seeking answers, information and hope. This is the hope stop. You’ve found the right place. It’s going to be ok. Ok?
But even so, sometimes I feel like I write and the words fling out of me and into space, into the void, never to be reflected back to me. That’s what we really want, as writers, right? We need to tell the story, real or imagined, and we want it to fly out and bounce back to us. We want to see something in the reactions of our readers. Some writers want to get their readers to buy something. Some want you to be scared. Some want to make you feel sad about injustice. Some want you to recycle. Some want you to believe the same things that they do. Some want you to laugh (guilty.) Some want you to hear their story and feel compassion for people like them. Some want to impress you. Some want to inspire. What do I want? I want you to read what I write and when you’re done, believe in yourself a little bit more. I want you to know that we can get through hard things. That you can get stronger. That it’s possible to survive pain and bad news and chemo. That you can even have fun, like 98% of the time. I want to make the hard things in life a little bit less scary and a little more manageable. I absolutely believe that if I can do it, you can do it. I’m honestly not especially talented at anything. I just believe in my brain and my body and my heart and I don’t give up.
The other thing I want you to come away from my writing with is the understanding that I have faith. I approach all of this with an unshakable belief that I’m God’s kid and He watches me and walks with me with Great joy. He has my best interests in His plans, and my only job is to trust Him. He isn’t keeping track of my mistakes with a clip board full of wrong doings and scheming to find ways to punish me for them. He’s cheering me on, urging me to do my best, and He’s always up for getting ice cream after the game, win or lose. There are other aspects of God. He is holy and so perfectly powerful we cannot bear to look upon His face. But I am so enamored of the side of God that I am certain would laugh at a slightly inappropriate but witty and well timed about flatulence.
So, I want you to laugh, I want you to believe in yourself, and I want you to understand that pretty much everything you like about me comes from my trust that the Creator of the Universe chuckles occasionally at my antics and loves me like crazy, even when I am not especially well behaved.
Today, I got some evidence that this is happening. I got the coolest care package from the coolest group of young ladies. A woman who has known me since I was born shared my story from the last few years with her church prayer group, and they have been praying for me for a long time now. One of those people runs one of the church’s youth groups for girls and one way or another she ended up sharing one of my blog posts that talked about getting through these tough things with faith, with the group. Since then they tune in from time to time and read my stuff and talk about it. This gives me so much joy. I have mentored younger women since I was in college and continue to do so, most often, currently, in the form of trying to be the best boss I can to a small army of rockstar young women who comprise most of my team at work. Helping women who I am a little further along in life than (ahem, old) is a real passion of mine. I’ve been SO WELL mentored by the greatest women, ever. It’s been instilled in me. Basically, if you learn something (a skill, a process, a method, a way of thinking, a way of looking at something) what good is it really if you don’t turn around and teach it to someone else. Sometimes there is a shortage of “the teachable” but when you find them, they are attracted to potential “life teachers” like magnets. It’s a beautiful thing when the mentor and mentee find one another. It usually flourishes eventually into a friendship and mutual learning – and these relationships have been some of my greatest joys. Just about everything I know is because some smart person was generous enough to share with me.
So, to discover that I’m having an impact, 30 miles away, with a bunch of God following girls I’ve never met is just the greatest thing. They sent me notes and the notes gave me tears over and over. One (or several?) of them made a jar and put little note cards in it. The top of the jar said “Who you are…” and the note cards said “amazing” and “beautiful” and “inspiring” and “role model.”
Holy cannoli did this encourage me. I honestly had been feeling a bit down on myself, for not trying more persistently at “making it” as an author. This picked me right up today! I’m so full of love and joy from these notes (and the treats and sweet gifts they sent!) As a recipient of these blessings, I feel honored and humbled and invigorated to keep at it, sharing what I have to share. And it reminds me, with great intensity how important it is for us to encourage one another. Share with people the impact they have on you. You’re probably sitting on a lot of unexpressed gratitude and appreciation right now. Think of three people you couldn’t be where you are without – thank them! Tell them how they impact you and how you couldn’t be you without them.
Cancer has given me terrible things. But the beautiful things it has given me so outrageously outweigh the bad. When life gives you lemons, like cancer…well, I’m Lemonscarlet, and I’ll be over here with my amazing friends, making lemonade.