Yesterday was my birthday, so I am happy to report that I am officially halfway to 96! I remember three years ago announcing that I was halfway to ninety, so it hardly seems fair that I'm progressing twice as fast as I should be. (And if that sentence makes sense to you, then you, like me, do not speak Numbers as a first language.)
To prevent this blog from being totally inane on (most) days when I don't have anything profound to say, I've been digging through some old emails. I found one from five years ago that is incredibly personal--I sent it to a close circle of female writer friends--but upon reading it again, I think maybe it will speak to someone else. I wrote this in 1997, when one of my books was nominated for the RITA (romance writers) award. The rest is self-explanatory:
I'm going to be very honest now, okay? The Lord's been working on my heart, and I just feel led to share this with you all.
This year I went into the RITA gig with high hopes. I had been told by many people that my book was sort of the odds-on favorite (not to disparage the other two books, which are wonderful, but simply because mine had more "romance" in it.) I'm sure folks were telling the other two finalists that theirs were the favorites, too.
Anyway, I made a crucial error--I listened.
If you had asked me before Saturday night if I had expected to win, I'd have said no, but in truth, when the hour was done and I didn't win, I realized that I had really hoped to win. And that fact caught me by surprise, as did the disappointment I felt.
Now, disappointment and I aren't really on a first name basis. One of my guiding philosophies in life has always been, "if you don't expect much, you won't be disappointed," so I've always looked at good things as blessings and ordinary things as sort of my lot in life. (Being a youth pastor's wife keeps Ordinary real close.)
But later that night, when several of you comforted me, I was flabbergasted by the tide of hot emotion that swept through me--and kept on sweeping through. I was as surprised by my reaction as by anything else. My brain kept saying, "This is no big deal, Angie, not winning doesn't mean you can't write, it doesn't invalidate your work, and you are secure in Jesus," but my heart was broken. For a while there, I'll be honest, my spirit was broken, too. Wanted to hang it all up and go make pottery somewhere. (Isn't that crazy? I KNOW it's irrational.) But we women are about emotion, aren't we? And now I know how to write disappointment!
But today the Lord gave me a lesson through Oswald Chambers, and I think that this entire experience has been a blessing in disguise. God is teaching me.
Here's the lesson. My buddy Oswald writes: "The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ--'That I may know him.' To fulfill God's design means entire abandonment to Him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ but only about realizing what He has done for me."
Don't we sing about "what he's done for me?" And though he has done marvelous things in saving, keeping, and sanctifying us, I have to wonder if I'm still looking for him to do for me, when I ought to be checking to see if I am content to be sold out to him.
My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.
Oswald hit me with this one final phrase: "Am I building up the body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only?"
Convicting . . . and comforting.
Thanks, ladies, for listening.