I spent my birthday (this past December) at a lodge in the Pacific Northwest. As I sat by the fireplace on that rainy, windy day, I set goals for myself for the upcoming year, and I started a new journal in GoogleDocs. I titled the document “Do the thing you think you cannot do,” a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.
I had a sense that the upcoming year was going to be one of choosing love over fear, courage over cowardice, hope over dread. I had a feeling that in the upcoming year, my faith was going to be challenged — and, hopefully, strengthened.
Okay. Fast forward to yesterday.
I’m staying with my friend Reba in Cincinnati while I’m doing rewrites for book #2. It’s due tomorrow. Also, this week I’m flying to Nashville to speak at a university, and then flying to Milwaukee to speak at 4 church services this weekend.
Yesterday as I sat in bed with my laptop, I read over my editor’s feedback. I sifted through the manuscript again. I read the comments from three friends who I’d asked to read the first draft. And I realized that the counterpoint narrative — roughly half the book — is off. I’m trying too hard to make it work, to force it in, which means it doesn’t belong.
When I realized that, I started to panic. I was literally on the edge of a panic attack when Reba came into my room and sat on my bed.
I told her I was panicking.
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s talk it through.”
We spent the next two hours talking about what the book is about, what themes belong, what stories need to be removed, and what this rewrite needs to entail. After we talked it through, I was clear on what I needed to do. And although I was nervous about removing half the manuscript the day before it was due, I knew I needed to do it.
This morning I woke up and started removing the chapters that don’t belong in this story. I’ll probably use them in later books, but not this one.
Reba came into my room and sat on my bed this morning. “You look like you’re having a heart attack,” she said, noting my crazy hair, my look of dread, and the speed at which my fingers were working to cut paragraphs out of the manuscript.
“I am!” I said. “I feel like I’m renovating a house, and I just took a sledgehammer to the walls!”
I realized that I’m not anxious about the material I’m removing — I know it’s the right thing to do. I’m just worried that there will be nothing to fill the void. That the real story won’t emerge. That the material I need won’t be there. That I’m not smart enough, not intuitive enough, not skilled enough to write the story.
I was searching GoogleDocs for material I wrote a while ago, and I saw my journal. “Do the thing you think you cannot do.”
For me, it’s tearing my book apart. For you, it might be walking out of a toxic relationship, applying to grad school, calling the estranged friend you haven’t spoken to in forever, speaking your deepest secret out loud for the first time…..or maybe, it’s finding the courage just to get out of bed.
Because Divine Love says not only that you should, but that you can. You can find the faith, you can find the hope, you can find the courage to do the thing. To do that thing.
Reba says courage is dreams with shoes on.
So today, let’s lace up those shoes. Let’s set our feet on the path we know we’re meant to be on. Let’s put one foot in front of the other. And let’s cheer each other on as we each find the courage to do the thing.