21 May 2013

Finding Joy Through our Trials

This past Sunday, our lesson at church was all about learning and growing from and finding the joy in the trials we face. And I had so many thoughts and feelings about the topic that I spent much of the afternoon trying to figure out how to coherently express the things I'd learned without yammering on for a million pages... So, as often happens, I didn't post on Sunday evening. I told myself instead that I'd do it in the morning.

But yesterday, I got all caught up in the dual excitement of my birthday and the start of The Writer's Voice agent round (go Team Cupid!!), and although I thought about my planned blog post throughout the day, I didn't pull up my computer to start writing.

I let myself imagine, for a bit, that my ultimate birthday present this year will be an earth-shattering clamor of agent attention for my manuscript. And I thought about how I've come so far with my writing since my last birthday, how the rejections and harsh critiques, coupled with amazing encouragement from trusted writers and publishing professionals, have shaped me into a better writer than I thought I could be.

I thought about how, in making my manuscript the best it could be to prepare for this contest, I had to give my characters some incredibly difficult challenges to overcome. I had to let them suffer, because a character who never has to work through tough times won't ever know what she is truly capable of. She won't know who she can lean on for support if she never has trouble standing on her own. She won't discover hidden talents and new ways to accomplish things if she never has to fall back on plan B (or C or D). And I thought about how these truths in the fictional world of my manuscript translate so exactly into real life.

And I planned to write yet another post all about how the trials and difficulties I've faced in my lifetime have ultimately been blessings. (I've talked about this concept here and here and here and here... and throughout my blog posts - but what do you expect from a blog titled "Love & Life & Learning?)

Then, tornadoes hit Oklahoma, devastating whole communities, and I wondered if it would be appropriate to post a message all about how our trials are for our good, and even when we feel like we've lost everything, we can trust the Lord to bring us through to something better. I wondered if my message of hope and encouragement would be seen as simplistic or preachy, in light of the current situation. But ultimately, I decided that, perhaps, there was a reason my thoughts had been dwelling on finding joy through sorrows and leaning on each other in times of pain. Maybe someone needed to hear the message.

And even if I'm the only one who really needed the message today, it's worth remembering. Because tragedies like this have a way of bringing people together. And we find ways to help each other through. And miracles do happen. We're not alone.

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