Monday, March 2, 2015

I failed this morning

This morning, I pre-released my new Bible study "Stripped: Discovering the Essential Nature of Jesus Through His Own Words." I've absolutely loved getting to work on this study - all the commentary, all the time spent thinking about (and discussing) Jesus' words, examining where my relationship is with Jesus in light of what He speaks about - the whole nine yards. I've been completely enthralled with the entire writing process.

As I finished the initial draft, I felt the Lord leading me to crowdsource this study a bit. I came up with the idea of leading a group through it before trying to publish and sell it, and I decided to do that via Facebook. I tend to write to spark conversations and I wanted to see the interaction around each day's study before ultimately finalizing it.

And … with the release today …. let's just say it's been a bit of a rough morning!

Right from the start, the folks in my pre-release group noticed typos, grammatical errors, misplaced Scripture references.

Can anyone say "face palm?"

At first, I was upset, then I was mad at myself. I've read through these pages probably 20 times and didn't see these errors that seem to be jumping off pages. I started questioning my judgement, I questioned the editor who's working on this for me (who said it was "good enough for pre-release" even though she's still editing for final publish), I started feeling like a big old traditional "failure." When the feelings started, so came the labels. Because you're human, you'll probably recognize them too. In my mind, I saw myself not as an emerging or beginning author, but a "failed author," a "doomed writer," a "not good enough to even call myself a writer" writer.

As the labels (and more) began to cover my psyche like some crazy bad wallpaper, I just got sad. I started thinking of the people in the group who might be doing their very first Bible study - and whether or not this "bad experience" might turn them off of Bible study, like forever. Or the other people in the group who do tons of Bible studies - maybe my mistakes will distract them from another better study. I literally started thinking that my typos and errors would cause these folks to miss lessons God has for them.  Or maybe, because they do a lot of Bible studies, they'd judge me. They'd confirm my insecurity labels.

So by this point, in my mind, I was not only labeled with massive insecurity, I was now solely responsible for the downfall and spiritual destruction of 37 people in my Facebook group.

Hmmm … a little dramatic maybe? More likely … a lot dramatic! And there's another label.

And then, the Lord turned my head and brought me back to what I actually wrote for study day 1, the middle part of Isaiah 9:6-7…

"And He (Jesus) will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end." (emphasis mine)

The reality of the situation is that my labels - self-imposed or stamped on by someone in the group - don't really matter.

I don't know why God had me start writing this study so many months ago. I don't know why, as I prayed for the words I was writing to reflect what He would have my readers learn each day, He allowed the circumstances that set me up to release a study with these types of mistakes. What I do know is that I felt His peace throughout the entire process of writing this study, including the decision to release it early in a way that probably doesn't make "sense" in the world of book publishing.

As I clean up the mess that is today, I'm making a choice not to allow my self-imposed labels define me or this process of learning something new in the form of writing Bible studies.

Instead, I'm going to check in with the labels that actually make sense - the labels of the Son of God, the…

Wonderful Counselor

Mighty God 

Everlasting Father

Prince of Peace 

God with Us (Isaiah 7:14)

His labels are ultimately the only ones that matter, and thankfully, no matter how much I mess up, His labels are eternal. Nothing I can do will ever detract from them, nothing I can ever write or do will cause them to be anything other than what they are - everlasting promises and unbreakable truths.

If you have your own labels covering your psyche today, I encourage you to think for a moment about the realities about who Jesus is and take comfort in those truths. Let's all do that together and remember that, in the words of author Gregory Boyle "anything worth doing is worth failing at."

Enjoy the rest of your Monday!