Some people think my writing journey began for me in 2017 when I published my first novel, The Funeral Flower. Others will laugh at that, simply because they know the editing process alone can be lengthy, so the publishing date isn’t the start by far. A few others know that I began sending my manuscript to publishers around the end of 2015 and assume the process started there; however, this journey truly began when I was ten years old, just after my grandfather died. Seeing that I wasn’t handling it well, my parents bought me my first real journal. It was pink pleather with a special gold toned lock. It came with two small keys and a box big enough to tuck it and a few pens inside.
My first sentence was: “Why am I not good enough?”
Soon, the floodgates opened, and I poured my heart out onto page after page until the small journal was full. It didn’t take long for my parents to transition from buying those small journals to purchasing larger legers. I soon found poetry and short stories; I wrote through pain and joy. My writings evolved as I did and with it so did my confidence in myself.
After I had our son, in 1992, I started The Funeral Flower. It’s loosely based on my own life and one day I simply felt the need to write it. Had I known twenty-eight years ago when I typed out those few chapters on our first computer that I would publish it one day, I may never have started it.
Had I known, I also may never have asked a publisher for a job in 2001. I may never have learned marketing or public relations, graphic design, and legal studies.
Because the truth of it is: fear can stop any journey.
Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of the workload. Fear of pain. Fear of going down the wrong path. Fear of not being good enough.
A little over a year ago, I was writing and my right hand started hurting. My carpal tunnel surgery had been only a couple months before, so I simply attributed it to that. After another month or so more it started swelling badly at night, so I finally went in to see the surgeon who did the carpel tunnel release. He let me know that the small knot on the top of my hand was simply scar tissue building up from the surgery and that I needed to massage it more. I explained I had been doing that, but would try harder. The more I massaged (and had it massaged) the more it hurt.
I was in the middle of publishing several works for other people and also at the final stages of Two Thousand Lines edits, so there really was no time to worry over it. I’d work long days and Larry would pack my hand in ice every evening. Around February of this year, the knot had grown much larger, and it began to hurt so badly that I could barely handle the pain in the evenings. However, each morning I woke, the swelling was gone again and the pain, tolerable, so I kept working and praying.
After a few more months, the pain had gotten too bad and the knot had grown larger, that finally I went back to the doctor. Several appointments and the alleviation of possible diagnoses later, ranging from Ganglion cysts to a tumor, I was finally sent to a wrist specialist where he found I have Scapholunate non-union advanced collapse wrist stage III (nearing stage IV) with several bone cysts. It is a complication that can occur with undiagnosed or untreated Scapholunate dissociation. Basically, one bone is broken away and the other two are separating.
The good news: I would be having surgery and the pain would eventually go away, as well as I would gain strong wrist strength again. The bad news: I would lose anywhere from a quarter to a half of my wrist movement and be in recovery for twelve weeks.
The surgeon said he’d fit me in the following week. My mindset was (is) that I have work to complete and I seriously could not go the following week. So, I scheduled the surgery for September, two months out, which would already be putting me on a strict work timeline.
Unexpectedly, I was devastated. Lose wrist rotation? In my right wrist? Be in recovery FOR TWELVE weeks? I came home, sat on the back porch with Larry and I sobbed. This seemed much more devastating than I had imagined. I guess I was a touch hysterical because I remember wailing over all the issues I had with this diagnosis. Larry listened, as he does. I could see his mind calculating the solutions.
How can I be out of work for several weeks, let alone any longer? Impossible. I won’t be able to use a mouse?
Larry: I’ll buy you a touch screen.
I will be in pain!
Larry: You’re in pain now. After surgery, pain will be healing pain; now it’s only damaging pain.
I have work to do that a touch screen won’t help!
Larry: Better get busy then.
What if I lose all that function?
Larry: You’ll find a way. You always do.
Finally, I will have a huge scar on the top of my hand! I wailed.
Larry: Oh honey…it’s looking pretty gnarled up right now. It’ll be an improvement.
I stopped crying out of sheer shock, looked down at my “gnarled up” wrist and laughed. Soon it turned to giggling. He was right. It looked awful!
He suggested hiring a contractor to help me complete the work I needed and to reassess the amount of time I needed to do it. My mindset was that God had brought me through over a year with this problem and I had faith He could carry me through until the work was done.
Larry shocked me again by pointing out that the same faith in God would help me complete the work in time for surgery. It only takes a work of that faith to bring it to life. I thought on it, prayed, stepped out on faith and rescheduled the surgery to August. That gave me only a month to complete four months’ worth of work.
My surgery is tomorrow and I have no doubt I won’t be the same. I’m already not the same. With God and a beautiful host of helpers (major shout outs to Larry, Alexis, Taylor, and Ms. Nelda) all the work is done. Also, I have amazing friends who’ve helped me stay positive (Wendy, Yvette, Marcie, Priscilla, Ann, and Tanya) …and I’ve needed it at times. It’s been said a time or two: “Your health is more important than work,” but my thoughts are: “Not true. My health isn’t more important than God’s work. He can get anyone to do what I do, but He chose me and I accepted the call. Everything else is circumstantial.”
Bishop Robert Wanjala Makona posted this in June and I think it says it all. “The reason many Christians are not being used the way that God had told them that He wanted to use them, is because they have not prepared. You see, God can call you to do it, because you got the call, but did not answer it. You answer the call, by preparing. The difference between being called and chosen is preparation.”
Preparation takes facing fear: fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of the workload. Fear of pain. Fear of going down the wrong path. Fear of not being good enough.
I think the true journey is in overcoming that fear.
I’ll never be the same after tomorrow. My body will be different. I don’t know how much different or what to expect other than that God is in control. He will equip me to continue His work and I will prepare to do it. I also know I’ll never be the same mentally, because my faith has increased past fear. The amount of work that needed to be done in the past month was an “impossibility,” but with other people helping and me facing the fear, I knew I would follow the advice I have always given to my kids, “Do your best and God will do the rest.”
He certainly has.
Now. I simply walk…