My first book has been out in the world (at least electronically) for a little over a week now. It hasn’t made The New York Times bestseller list, or been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. I guess some dreams (or delusions of grandeur!) I’ll have to let go. But a dream that is in many ways far superior has come true. When I first decided to actually try to get my story published, my hope and prayer was that I could do for someone else what other writers have done for me. At different times, the words of Margery Williams, Phillip Yancey, Anne Lamott, Lauren Winner, Frederick Buechner, Marcus Borg, Barbara Brown Taylor, Madeleine L’Engle, Brian McLaren, John Claypool, and other authors have literally saved my life, at least my spiritual one. God used their words to patch holes in my faith, to keep me going while I healed instead of lying down and giving up (like I sometimes wanted to do). There was such power in reading exactly what I needed at exactly the moment I needed it, of feeling that this person I had never met had reached through the page to touch my very soul and let me know I was not alone. If being an author meant the chance to do that for someone else, I thought, it might just be worth all the hard work and stress and rejection that it takes to finally get a book published.
In the past few days, I have been getting messages telling me that this dream has come true. And they mean the world to me. An acquaintance from my time as a residence hall director, whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in years, sent me a long and wonderful Facebook message, that ended like this:
I’m so glad to see that even those of you with “connections” (ministers) still have to find yourself in your faith. It’s been a long hard journey for me – finding myself in my faith. But you inspire and encourage me to continue trying and not give up.
A Hindu chaplain working in a metro hospital hundreds of miles from here emailed me as soon as she finished reading the book. Though we have never met, she found my blog a few weeks ago and we have been corresponding about our respective ministries and all the things we have in common. This kindred spirit of mine wrote:
Stacy, this book is so well-written and your reflections are so touching. I resonate with your feelings as a chaplain on so many levels. I also resonate with you when you talk about your struggles with faith. Thank you for writing this book and being so honest.
Even farther away, a Christian missionary in the Middle East read my book and sent an email that made me cry. We have never met, nor are we ever likely to, but across thousands of miles, oceans and continents apart, it was amazing to feel that we connected and understood one another, as I read:
I wanted to message you to thank you for your book… it’s a massive encouragement to someone muddling along in ministry often feeling like a fraud and like someone better should really be doing this. Thank you for the affirmation that it’s okay to question and doubt and struggle but still strive to be a blessing in the midst of that.
Yeah, I still dream of fame and fortune, of having everyone everywhere read my book and love it. Those things won’t happen. But what is happening – what has happened – is miraculous. Someone out there (a few someones, actually) who doesn’t even know me read my words and they were exactly the words they needed, exactly when they needed them. Nothing could make me more thankful than that. Every time I read one of those messages, I remember this is why I write.