Finding Encouragement Along the Way
My new book, Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion, was released this week. It has been a long journey up until this point. There have been some incredible moments along the way, but also plenty of valleys as well.
How It Started
The first words of this book were journal entries. What I was experiencing after leaving my ministry job was so absurdly ridiculous that I thought I must write it down or no one would ever believe that it was true. While chronicling my crazy circumstances in a hallway closet in my mother-in-law’s house I also realized I was learning some things as well. So, I jotted those down too.
Almost two years would go by before I shared any of this publically. I made my first post on my birthday in 2014. I put the embarrassing realities of my life out there on the interwebs and then ingloriously went to Walmart. It was very anticlimactic. I did not check my phone until I returned home. When I did, I could see what I had said struck a nerve with many people.
A New Ministry
I began meeting with people who wanted to talk after reading my blogs. At first, I thought they wanted to meet to hear my advice. After the first few meetings, I was a little perturbed. No one asked for my input. They just wanted to share their story with someone they knew could relate. In these meetings, I had found a new ministry of listening instead of preaching.
I thought if I could get to 52 blog posts I would have enough content to make a book. If my posts helped this many people in my small circle of influence, then how many more people were out there that a book could help? I finished the first draft of the book in 2015. I sent it to an editor who helped me organize the story better. But my writing still needed to develop and I struggled with people possibly misunderstanding why I would want to write this book. More than once I grew discouraged that it would ever be finished.
It Is Finished?
Eventually, the book came to a place where I could say it was ready even though it was not perfect. I do not know that I have ever worked so hard on anything in my life as I have this book. That makes the results of its success personal to me.
Through the pre-launch promotion, the book has not rocketed to best-seller status. People are not near as excited about it as I am. I began to get dismayed that all of my hard work would not lead me to the destination I desired.
An Important Reminder
This weekend, I spoke at a church. Before the message, I saw a man in a Domino’s Pizza uniform. The combination of that outfit and being at church reminded me of the season I spent delivering pizza after first leaving my job in full-time ministry. I write about it in my book and some of the funniest stories are in those chapters.
After talking to that man, I felt God remind me how far I had come. Not too long ago, I was delivering pizza and full of shame over how drastically my life had changed in such a short period of time. I felt unwanted and like a failure. Now I was having the chance to speak at a church and publish a book about what I had learned from that season of life. What I was now experiencing was not about reaching a destination, but rather taking another step in the right direction.
I can suffer from destination disease and seek to find my fulfillment in reaching a certain place instead of the progress I am making along the way. This past Sunday reminded me that my direction is more important than only living for a destination.