Monday, December 7, 2009

Mental Limbo

The other day I was shoving clothes upon clothes into the washer, stuffing it fuller than a Christmas turkey when I received a clear message from God.

Lower your expectations.


I stepped back. Then I pressed the power button to send the packed machine into a wet whirl and thought on it. And thought on it. And thought on it. Until finally I made sense out of God’s wisdom.

God was instructing me to play mental limbo, specifically with those in my life who don’t share a vested interest in writing or reading. Get them down from the pedestal by getting down. Bend. Shimmy. Do what needs to be done to see things in perspective.

People, even those who love you most, cannot meet your expectations.

Recently I’ve held this idea that those in my family and certain loved ones would celebrate my story ideas and revel in the writing process as much as I do at any given second…at every given second. (A mere sentence can incite a childlike frenzy in me.) I likened my awaiting hope and excitement from these people by comparing my passion to one who styles hair. A hairstylist might create an unbelievably arduous and stunning French twist and then turn to me eager for my response. I might offer a quick nod, a subtle show of acceptance, but because styling hair isn’t my thing…it’s not my passion, I wouldn’t go on and on about the details. Doubtfully would I want to learn how to reconstruct the style or ask about the details of how she learned how to accomplish the difficult hold. I simply wouldn’t have that much vested interest.

Such is the case with my loved ones and friends who don’t share my passion for writing and reading.

Lower your expectations.

This is to say nothing against those who don’t appreciate such literary things. It is my positioning that needs to change. My perspective.

Mental Limbo.

As I’ve been putting this mental lowering into practice over the last several days I’ve noticed that the lower I get in what I expect of others, God remains in his rightful place—seated as the MOST HIGH GOD.

People = fallible.

Even loved ones don’t always express a vested interest.

But God is always interested. Always invested…and always lifted up.

How about you? How low can you go? And have you found the same to be true about your passions in life—that God is the one most interested?

*photos by flickr


  1. What a great reminder! My husband is most definitely not a fiction reader, so I struggle with this concept a lot. :-)

  2. I find this really interesting, Wendy. I never thought of who shared my interest in writing with me other than writing friends online really. I never much expect anyone who isn't a writer to understand me. But to think of God as being excited with me on this journey...that's a great feeling. Thank you!

  3. Excellent post. It definitely applies to more than just people who don't share our interests. :-)
    Like Eileen, I don't expect nonwriters to care that much. But God... yeah, it's pretty cool that He might be excited over my excitement.

  4. I think I am practically incapable of low expectations. Especially when it comes to myself, kids or husband. I am the queen of trying to be perfect. What a great post. I think I am going to see how low I can go this week!

  5. I like the hairdresser analogy and have found that to be true. There are people, close family and friends, with whom I can talk freely about writing, taking it off in different tangents, discussions. Mostly though it's with people who know me well and vice versa.

  6. There are definitely times when it seems like I'm the only one interested in my writing, but there are also times when my friends and family are very interested and supportive. I think it's good to experience both.

  7. In college, I finished my fourth manuscript and was so excited that I immediately went into the kitchen to tell my roommates. One of them had a friend over and when I triumphantly announced, "I finished my book!" her response was, "Wow, don't you have a life?" The first thought that went through my head was, "Who are you and why are you in my kitchen?"

    So, I'd like a little more than that. I did LOVE my roommates' response. They jumped up and down for me and even came to my defense to Rude Visitor. But I understand that they replied that way because they knew and supported me. I try to remember Rude Visitor when people tell me about their passions. And while I hope to Awesome Roommate Response, I'll except something a bit lower. :0)

  8. MAN! Does this ever resonate with me. I was just crying in my soup because none of my family members that I've sent my first 50 pages to have actually read it...and that includes my own mother! I really let myself get down about it, but I had to remind myself that theirs is not the approval (or interest) that I need. Thank you for sharing this - it is SO nice to know I'm not the only one who struggles with keeping God in the right place!

  9. Great post. I'll have to remember it the next time I don't get a gleeful response from my family regarding my writing, or vice versa and think about my responses when people share their interests with me.

  10. I am with you all the way. All the way.

  11. Wendy, you are made of awesome! THis is a beautiful post. I agree with you--it's we who need to change our expectations, rather than expecting everyone else to change. I love your analogy.

    Thanks for being in a position where you were listening, and for being willing to share what you learned with us. *hugs*

  12. Don't you just love it when God speaks to you loud and clear like this? I've hid my passion for writing and reading for a long time. Only my husband really understands and he can only listen to so much of it before he loses interest.....kind of like when he goes into detail with me about deer hunting!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope your Christmas season is merry and bright!

  13. This is a great post. I think it's something all need to think about.

  14. Wendy, thank you so much for this post. I LOVE that God is on this writing journey with me. Sharing the ideas and giving me strength, passion and perseverance to keep writing in his name. It wasn't always like this. Before I was a Christian, I thought I was on the journey alone. It's so much better this way :)

  15. Wendy, Wendy, Wendy, I SO needed this. I must play limbo right alongside you. Wish I didn't have to.

  16. Ok so...I love how God can use the people around me to help drive home His point to my heart. This resonates with my heart like a giant church bell ~ like the voice of God that echoed in my own heart yesterday! I am now in the middle of this thought process and working my way to clarity and understanding...and I appreciate your laying it out in a way that makes sense!

    Many warm hugs,

  17. What a timely post for me Wendy- thank for allowing God to use you to speak to me. I do hold my family to a high expectation. Sadly they have been trying to live up.

    I really needed this.

  18. My pastor yesterday said that we should be like John the Baptist. God wants to use people who say, "He must become greater, I must become less." Boy did that hit me. Lately the push in the writing realm is all about building ourselves and our platforms, and I'm struggling with how to let go of that so that God can truly become greater while I become less.

  19. Oh gosh, this is so true. Wendy, thanks for such a great post.

  20. Great post!!! I have had to do that awhile ago--I wanted everyone to be as excited as I was when I got something published. I think it hit me most when my old pastor didn't even know what Chicken soup was! LOL so there went my pride!

  21. Wendy, this post really spoke to me! I'm always wanting my husband to be as excited about my writing as I am. And let's face it, although he loves me very much, he's never going to be AS excited about a romance as me even if someone dies a brutal death in it. But you are so right. God is always excited. We can always find peace, grace and support in Jesus Christ. Thanks for this!

  22. Sarah, I wonder if your husband and my husband would be too busy trading sports scores. I hear you.

    Eileen, This may sound strange, but when I began blogging I stumbled into a whole new land and in that land I found people I doubted existed...people who feel the same way I do about writing. It was a refreshing find.

    Jessica, Our God is that cool. When we are smiling, He is probably laughing. My God laughs a lot.

    Marybeth, Finding that being humbled gets me even lower. One of those days.

    Joanne, Those conversations are some of my favorites.

    Natalie, My husband and my mom can be strong advocates for my writing, but there's just something about connecting with someone and sharing the same passion. I agree about experiencing both. Lately I've realized that's why the blogging community is so special to me.

    Kristen, Me squash Rude Visitor. I can get a little protective...don't mind me. ;)

    Beth, I've had that happen with a sister...hence...this post. I have so much to learn.

    Patti, I hope I wrote it in a memorable way if it helped or will help.

    Cassandra, I'm diggin' the second all the way. :D

    Danyelle, Awesome and a little ginger root. ;)
    Sometimes it's hard to listen, but I've found it to be worth it.

    Mary, Excellent example. Deer hunting for your husband. Cool to see a comparison of what you might hear about.

    Susan, It's something I think about. That's why it's here.

    Cindy, I agree that having God in this makes it all the more thrilling. He really is the best encourager. The best everything.

    T.Anne, How low can you go. How low can you go. Can't you just hear my chanting?

    Bina, Okay, that right there is just too cool. I love when God uses me in any possible way and to know that He's already been working that message on you. Too. Cool.

    Tamika, Again, cool. God has so much to teach me in this area, but thankfully I'm a willing student (most of the time anyway).

    Jody, I love that desire in you. I am thankful to God that you have that desire.

    Janna, Thanks.

    Terri, That's funny to me. For some reason I thought before all pastors became ordained they had to know about Chicken Soup. ;D

    Heather, Ditto, but on the women's fiction thing. I think when I reach the point when my husband is AS excited I might need to worry.

    Okay, so I'm punchy. Don't know what to blame it on. My stomach is acting a bit like it's the last day of school. I'll give a report on Wed.

    I love learning.
    I am so thankful for a God willing to teach.

    I also want you all to know I am grateful for you. I am grateful for a bunch of people I have not met. Sometimes that sounds so strange to me, yet it remains true.


    Know how invested our God is.
    ~ Wendy

  23. Great post. I share very little about my writing with friends and family unless asked. I pray for guidance with regard to my writing often.

  24. Never thought about from that angle before. Thanks for giving me something to think about:) Blessings!

  25. This post hits close to home because most of my family don't have nor understand my passion. Good to know God does. You gotta love that about Him. He always understands and appreciates. How could he not be invested? He was the one who gave us the gift. Have a good night!

  26. Great post! It's true that sometimes we need to adjust our own views and it will make our lives easier. :)

  27. Yes, definitely, I've had to lower my expectations. AFter I got the call from my agent, I wanted to scream to the world, and I did. Only many of my friends and family looked at me funny and said, "Oh, that's cool. What does an agent do?" So I shouted from the rooftops on my blog and was thankful I didn't have to lower my expectations one bit. :)

  28. Wendy,

    Love this, totally agree with this. I try very hard to lower my expectations and I am a recovering perfectionist so this is hard for me! But when I try to see people the way God sees them, how precious each person is and not because of his or her achievements or capabilities then I am able to lower my limbo stick and love people honestly. I cannot do this without His help.

    I also agree that God shares your passion even if others don't.

  29. my mom is and my hubby better be ;) other than that - that's why i love writers and their blogs. you all can talk about writing every day!

  30. I love the fact that a sentence can send you into a childlike frenzy. We all need more childlike frenzy in our lives. :-)

  31. Wendy: What a great post; what wisdom from one so young!

    The Lord told me a similar thing when I whined to him about "them" not understanding. "They don't have to understand," He said.

    I knew what He meant. It was enough that ones like YOU understand, and He does.

    Your word from Him confirms it: we must receive our affirmation from our Shepherd alone, not the other sheep. Or we'll be faaaaaling in the ditch.

    Love you,

  32. What great timing. I, too, have had this same problem, but discovered much later in my writing what you have discovered so soon. Congratulations! Only God needs to approve. He is the one who has given us the gift and we are responsible only to Him.
    But still it is nice when someone we love gets excited isn't it? :-)
    Once in awhile it happens.
    I am revamping my blog after the first of the year because I think that is what He wants from me. Hope you will check it out.
    Thank you for your wisdom here.
    Blessings Clella

  33. This is great, Wendy! Too many times, I stumble over words, gushing over my latest work, my idea, a trickle of a story. Only to be met with the casual nod of "that's nice" or, worse, the brick wall of "so?".

    We aren't writing for others, anyway, but for HIM who gave us this gift.

    Thank you and have a wonderful week!

  34. Wendy,
    Lovely post. It's hard to find people who really understand the process a writer goes through to become published. One of the people I most admire in this world, my grandad (and yes, that's how I spell grandad) finally understood how hard it is to break into the the writing world this year. I had a story (my first since the local paper in high school) published in a kid's magazine in October. Since then my grandad said he has read short story/article he has seen...he had no idea the work to takes for someone to get published. We all need someone (we know, love, and admire) to believe in us...

  35. I've always been an "out there" person. Maybe because I've (thought) needed lots of approval for who I am and what I do.

    When I've had friends and/or family read my stories (including the published/contest winners) I'm lucky if I get a nod of approval. That's when I feel like I need to shred everything. After all, aren't they some of the important ones in my life that I crave acceptance and support from?

    The only ones, other than my dedicated hubby, that understand the writer's journey are my writer friends. It's their support, encouragement and help that keep me writing.


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