Friday, April 19, 2013

The Plank, Pimple-picking, and Preachin’ to the Choir

Now, I know you are wondering how on earth I can make these title topics cohesive. You’ll have to read on and see….

The Plank

Arrgh! I spend my day with little boys so inevitably my mind goes to something like this. My apologies.

So a plank is something people walk before they jump, or are pushed off of into the shark infested waters below, right? Pirates, and whatnot. When we—as writers, professionals, doctors, singers, musicians, pretty much anything—put ourselves “out there,” our dreams essentially become damsels clinging to a flimsy board over open seas.

Sometimes someone says something, rejects you, fires you, and it is enough of a poke to send you over the edge in to the crushing waves below. Swimming in rejection is not at all fun. And sometimes, we are tossed, wave after wave, struggling to keep our head above water. Clinging to a life-raft like hope, maybe stubbornness, or perhaps even delusions of grandeur, in wait of a slice of land, or a passing yacht that might bring about some shift of fortune.

Whether you are on the plank or in the water, you are in a vulnerable place, my friend.

But I got to thinking about that wooden board. What if instead of a plank, it’s a diving board? -And why are all the metaphors about water always about drowning and struggling to find the surface? I like swimming. I find it refreshing.

What if we view those failures as some super sweet exercise? And we think about that dark sea writhing beneath you like a clear blue lap lane…

So often, we can learn, tone, and refocus when we hit that water and tool around long enough to get pruney. It’s great cardio, by the way!

Now, hold on to those thoughts about your plank for a few moments while we move on to the next glamorous point.

I never had that crazy combination skin, thank you Jesus! But there were, and still are, those occasions when my inner Venus manifests as a sort of pubescent boy. Zits! Ick!

I banished that mega-magnifying makeup mirror years ago because I honestly don’t like to scare myself with that much microscopic truth.

I don’t know about you but when I’m feeling great, or I’ve had a good day, I wash my face, brush my teeth and crawl into bed without a second glance.

BUT… when I’m feeling particularly worn-out, stressed, vulnerable, or maybe rejected, I pick. Yes, I’m a picker. I lean in, scan my clean pasty complexion until I can find someway to squeeze out my frustration. Anyone else do this?

I create problems for myself this way. There might be a tiny clogged pore that that no one would ever see, and yet, when I’m at my worst, I pick at it, I inflame the situation. I take one tiny speck and turn it into the giant red blob.

Now I’m gonna bring these points home by Preachin’ to the Choir

How many times have you felt this way when someone tells you that “God’s got a plan.” “All in God’s time.” Or even “Well, God’s in control.”

Yeah, yeah. We know that. I’m pretty sure that was ingrained in Sunday school rhyme-time or song-circle.

But the point of all this is for you to see how YOUR perspective changes everything!

Sometimes when those rejection letters come back, it’s difficult to see God’s perspective—His plan for your time in the pit.

Yes, we can rationalize that His timing is perfect. His plans are to prosper and never harm. But sometimes God’s plans feel painful. They push us out on that scary ledge. They expose some microscopic insecurity and turn it into a mountain that you walk around with on your face for all to see.

Now, I don’t want to preach at y’all but the Word is a pretty good defense against our perceptions…

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

You see, our minds and emotions can be frail when allowed to swim in the deep end all alone. It’s like flailing around like tasty shark-bait for the enemy.
But YOU have the power to change your perspective.

To see that plank as your spring board.

To view those waters of rejection as a way to firm up those muscles for the long road ahead.

To refuse to let those little snags in your reflection rise up and define who you are and what you can become.

In the wake of some bad news God showed me that I could spin my perception of that rejection into something empowering and truly encouraging.

Give it a try. The view from the other side is great and the water is quite nice. 

Talk to me: When was the last time you turned lemons into lemonade? How do you defend against those planks and pimples in life that tend to skew our perspective? Or what scripture encourages you the most when things look bleak?

Amy Leigh Simpson writes Romantic Suspense that is heavy on the romance, unapologetically honest, laced with sass and humor, and full of the unfathomable Grace of God. She is the completely sleep deprived mama to two little mischief makers and would challenge anyone to a cutest family contest. Represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.


Jill Weatherholt said...

I love this post, Amy! The great thing about perspective is we have complete control over it. Each day, I make an effort to choose to be happy by emphasizing the small victories and blessings rather than focusing on the not so good things. There's always something to be thankful for, even in those dark times.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

I love this post, Amy. You chose my one word for the year to write about: PERSPECTIVE. Thanks for giving me much to think about today. :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Jill- So often we don't claim that control and life just seems to start happening TO us. Love your thoughts here!! Thanks for opening up the conversation this fine Friday!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

:) I'm so glad, Jeanne! Good word for the year!

Betsy St. Amant said...

Love this post, ma'am. But I love all of yours! Beautiful heart shining through. Thanks for this reminder on perspective. Super timely as I have two zits, currently, and I HATE heights/diving boards/planks.

But lately I have been discovering my inner pirate princess ;)

In all're right. Perspective is key, and when we choose GOD'S perspective, we experience such freedom. If His perspective is truth (and it IS) then why would we view our "X" as ANYTHING else??? The devil is so dang sneaky.

Thanks for pulling back the veil today!

Lindsay Harrel said...

K, first, I don't think your beautiful face has ever had a pimple. Just sayin'. ;)

Second, love this. It's so true that we can either get discouraged and give up--or thrash about or make things worse for ourselves--or use the seemingly negative experiences to make us stronger.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

So happy you stopped by, Bets! We were on the same wavelength today ;)

Ah haha! Inner pirate princess--cute!

We DO have to constantly be on guard, when the enemy finds a weakness, he does everything he can to exploit it. But the truth is that he is completely powerless when we can keep on eyes on Jesus! Take that, Satan!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Hah! Linds, if only that were true. It's just so unfair being a woman sometimes ;) Also pretty awesome though too!

You are right, God uses everything! Nothing is wasted for the kingdom when we can see His plan through it all. Thanks, always, for stopping by to post your thoughts. You rock!

Debbie Stehlick said...

Hi Amy,
Great post today. I think perspective is so important. It is far too easy to look at circumstances and get discouraged, instead of looking to Jesus-"The author and finisher of our faith." There are so many encouraging scriptures, it's hard to pick one. "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ>" Philippians 1:6.

Angie Dicken said...

Amy, what a fabulous post!!! Your analogies are great!! Often, I let bad news suck me under a bit, or give me reason to pick, but once I finally stop my whining and bring it to God, the rejection becomes a vitamin to grow me. It's a cycle I hope to refine to only the positive, and stop allowing the piracy and pimplefest to be a part of it!!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Deb- I love that verse!! Thanks so much for sharing!

Ang- It's sooo tough to stand up under bad news. Even harder to see as anything other than what it seems. But God's perspective is eternal... and so much better! Sometimes we don't get to understand, but we can trust that all things work together for His good. Even bad things. :)

Ashley Clark said...

Great post, Amy! It's true that it can be all too easy to look at the depths of the water we feel like we're falling into rather than seeing things like rejections as opportunities in their own right. :D

Julia M. Reffner said...

Great job, Amy on this post! I confess that I am not a fan of the water and my swimming skills are lousy. But I really like the way you used this metaphor for the writing life. One thing I love about so many of these posts is they are applicable to our writing, but many other aspects spiritually.

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Amen, Amy - love it! Very applicable to me this week as I dive in to some shark-infested waters of my own... and discover that the sharks are all in my own mind, which is the hardest battleground of all, but the one we have full control over. (How's that for a mixed metaphor.) ;)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Thanks Ash! It's hard to see through the hurt, but everything can be a learning opportunity if we let it!

And Jules, you are right! So much of what we put here transcends the writing life! Oh, yeah. When there is no lifeguard on duty, stay in the shallow end and work your way out into deeper water with practice :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Oh, I totally agree, Karen! Our minds can be the most dangerous battlefields we face! That's why we cling to the Word and take every thought captive. Well, we try ;) that's is much easier said than done!

Pepper said...

GREAT encouragement here, Amy!!!
And a DIVING BOARD instead of a PLANK - oh man, you could have spent another 1000 words on bringing out the perspective in THAT one!

SUCH a wonderful encouragement for us! Thanks

Sandra Orchard said...

Great post, Amy. But I am so sorry to hear you've had bad news. I'm rooting for you! My newest mantra is "Joy is a decision." One of my favorite verses pinned to my writing desk: Heb 10:35-36 "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."