Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bring it on. Kind of. Maybe a little at a time?

who wants to test these waters?

So, this Risk Rejection thing is coming to a close. Last Thursday in January. (Except, maybe not. I am thinking you'll be hearing form me on this again. Stay tuned next Thursday.)

I began this journey thinking I would be taking four separate risks. 1--Ask for a book collaboration, 2--Ask for a mentor, 3—Join a heroin task force, and 4—TBA, some combo of contest submitting, Spanish class signing up for a future mission trip, or whatever crossed my path. And I did, or tried to do, all of these.

But somewhere along the line, the unexpected happened. This is common when you open yourself up to God and say, “Whatever you want. Bring it on.”

I realized all the “little” risks were adding up to one big one that's been simmering for a long time in my mind and heart, but Iv'e been afraid to let it boil. Mainly because it might boil over and create a big, big mess. Trust me, being the kitchen guru I am (and by that, I mean if I won the lottery I would eat out every day), I know about big boiling-over messes.

See, I've been a writer for a long time. I submitted my first article in 1987, and it was published in Discipleship Journal. If you remember that magazine, you know that's a big deal for a first-time author submitting off her blue Brother electric typewriter, heavily abused during many late-night college papers.

A successful run of writing for Sunday school papers and Christian living magazines, as well as two published books followed. No, I am not giving you my resume. No, this is not an exercise in “Jill needs some affirmation today so she's passively begging you to tell her she's amazing and wow, you never knew.” No. Just setting the scene, so to speak.

The life intervened, and while the details are not public fodder, I found myself unable to write easy answers and “ten quick steps” to any aspect of life, let alone anything so complex as living God's call. Life wasn't easy or quick. Some days, it was more like “Ten Quick Steps for Wanting to Throw Yourself in a Ditch, Cover Yourself Up, and Not Come Out until They Discover Unicorns in a Field in Canada, Making Life Exponentially Better for All." But that's kind of a long title.

The writing career thing dried up. Partly because I didn't feel capable of giving sage advice to any human on the planet and partly because nice Christian publications didn't want the difficult stuff I wanted to write. And partly because simply surviving that period took pretty much all the energy I could manage.

So I've been working my way back and finding my place. Clawing is, perhaps, the more visually appropriate term. But much less pleasant. Which brings me to the whole risk thing and where it is ending up. The final analysis? I'm done being pleasant.

I've been afraid to step away from the pleasant, ten easy steps, Sunday school paper world. It's safe. It's simple. It's dependable. I know I could do it. I could go back, and while it wouldn't exactly pay the tuition bills, it would pay some, and it would get my name back out there. But Risk Rejection has solidified the truth I've known for a while. I can't ever go back.

So I've been writing some harder stuff, sharing some more difficult articles, inviting discussion, and hoping the world would not reject the new me.

Then it happened. Two people “unliked” my Facebook author page. I know. I know in my heart it was probably two people who made New Year's resolutions to clean up their Facebook or get off it entirely or maybe unplug from society and move to Fiji. But what if it . . . wasn't?

What if they don't like the things I'm no longer quiet about—consumerism in the church, human trafficking, stupid messages churches send teenagers, unthinking “incuriousChristians,” or (gasp) women in ministry? What if they were rejecting . . . me?

So my risk, my big risk? i'm shifting audiences. Testing waters. Doing what God calls me to do, whether or not it's popular with an audience who prefers five easy steps. Nothing is easy in real life. Very little is as clear as we'd like it to be, and almost nothing happens in easy steps. While I know the One Big Answer to life, there are a lot of smaller questions that trip us up along the way. I want to be honest about those questions.

What are your questions? Struggles? Faith certainties? I'd love to talk about it.

16 comments:

Mariah Magagnotti said...

Your list about "unpopular" stuff you write is just what I'm looking to read more of! I just read A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and it's got me thinking a lot about many of those things, particularly women in ministry. Have you read it? Excited to read more!

Mary said...

Hey. I get it. But you know what? Your journey is going to open doors for you that your "safe" writing never would have. So rest in that. And don't worry if you lose a few people along the way. They weren't ready. It's okay. Go for it!

Amy Sullivan said...

Did you read Susan's post? She is having a shift in writing…tackling the tougher subjects…you two seem to be thinking similar thoughts.

I can't wait to hear you tackle the tough subjects. I want to think. I don't want daily tidbits presented with a sweet Jesus moment. I want the hard stuff.

I could see you doing this well, and I'm excited about it.

Laura Connell said...

When I got to your final analysis I wanted to stand up and cheer! I've been a Christian less than two years and I'm already done being pleasant. Christ demands so much more than that. And obviously He's calling you out to do it. So go - so many need to hear it.

jill said...

Mariah, I have not, but it is on my short list to read. I love her stuff, and she definitely gets some rejection feedback!

jill said...

Thanks, Mary. I love that the younger generations are indeed ready for it. We dropped the ball in many areas, and they are picking it up. Cool to watch--but I don't want to just watch :)

jill said...

I did read it. It's great to be cheering one another on. You describe that sweet tidbits stuff so well :) Now I just need to write, write, write more.

jill said...

I'd love to hear that journey! I feel like I've connected with some amazing women.

Beth Ingersoll said...

Let 'em unsubscribe. They just weren't part of the audience you are speaking to now. It's all good :-)

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Jill, there's only One we need to worry about pleasing – and He signed up to stick with you forever. AND He's stirring hearts of women (and men!) all over this world to stop wasting time. I'm glad you're listening! Can't wait to see where your journey takes you.

jill said...

I believe you're right, Susan. I am so proud of the young women (and men, but I raised women!) who are seizing the reins and not settling for what even I, unwittingly, told them it was about. I've changed my mind, and I'm blessed that they know what's what! Can't wait for the ride.

jill said...

Hi Beth! Yes, I know. But don't we want everyone to be our audience? :) Silly thought most of us have and must eliminate. It's just taken me a while to say that's OK. Thanks!

PinkStripeySocks said...

Jill, thank you for being brave and writing about the things that Godcares about. I had a couple of people unfriend me on social media too... and oh yeah, it hurts. But the ones that remain are the ones who are interested and want to know more. :)

Jen said...

Oh Jill - I feel that same stirring...God calling me to be bold and not fear man or what they think of me! As writers, we have an incredible influence. And it is true, people often don't read women writers because we are simply afraid of stepping on people fingers (or toes...which doesn't rhyme! lol) Thanks for challenging me to be braver, bolder, more direct in what I write and how I process my platform as a writer!

jill said...

Blessings on you as you pursue wherever that leads you! I hope I can stay along for the ride.

jill said...

Thanks. At least we can stick together in our rejection!