Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why The Wait?


For a person with a deficit in patience, this word, timing, is haunt-worthy. Timing can make my insides quiver so much with anxiety and fear that I won't wait long enough for perfect timing, but that the wait will be too long for me to stay sane.

With the tick of the clock a hair past midnight this last Sunday, I entered the year of my debut as a published author. Timing becomes a magnificent, frightful word as I think of all that needs to be done before my first book hits the shelves. I must time my writing and edits to be ready by deadlines. Working with two different publishers, I pray the timing of each edit and authorly duty lines up in a somewhat manageable way. Timing seems to be a fragile piece of my existence right now.

And I am totally okay with that. This is my dream. This is where I hoped to be at some point in my life. This is it. But mostly, I am okay with the magnitude of timing in my life because I've seen how God has used timing in a most perfect way to get me to this place. I reflected on my recent years, 2013 (when my first manuscript was shopped and rejected) up to the present day, and I wanted to share some things that I've learned during my wait, and maybe it's why I had to wait.

1. My Community was Built. I fell in love with my writer friendships. A bit dramatic? Maybe, but it's the truth. I connected with ladies who knew my heart as a writer, and allowed me into their lives in an authentic, Christ-loving way. I found hope in the writing journey because my friends held my hands and rubbed my back when all seemed lost. And in this, I grew not as a writer, but as a heart. My heart became soft for the needs of others and the value of authenticity in this short, precious life.

2. There was a Pride Monster, and He needed to kill it. Oh, Lord, if ever there was a pride monster, it was me. My gut reaction in every rejection, every criticism, every other person's success was a measurement against them according to me. Yuck. Do you know what the best way to kill a Pride Monster? Starve it. Even though I had my sweet friends and my agent encouraging me along the way, my heart was set on publication and I was not getting that. I wanted it so badly that I turned ugly when it seemed to slip through my fingers with every rejection. And I spiraled and I came up for air to those authentic friendships speaking Truth in love. God knew what He was doing when He built my community, and He knew He would use it to lift me up and tear down my ugly.

3. The Darkest Valley Was Ahead. Everything stood still in 2014. My personal crisis gave me little room for any true focus on my writing success. If anything, it made the effort seem petty. When you go through your days wondering if you'll make it to the next morning without a complete mental breakdown, you can't really dream. My dream in those moments was to crawl out of my skin and run away. This was not about my writing, this was about God's faithfulness to someone who was losing faith--in the person she loved, in the life she constructed, in the heart that was broken. Looking back (I did climb up and out of this valley), I needed this valley walk (or crawl) to happen when it did--without a book on the shelf, without confidence in something that I had accomplished. I needed brokenness to become stronger and know that my strength has nothing to do with me.

These are just three obvious reasons why I waited...why He made me wait (snicker)...I am sure there are more, actually, I can think of more, but I am sure there are more profound reasons for His timing to obliterate my own.

What if things went according to my plan? What would I do without these pieces along my timeline, refining me, preparing me, and growing me? How could I ever think that my plan and my control was adequate?

And as if I needed to be reminded about that fragile thing of timing and how it truly is not my own, even the publication dates of my novels seem to show Who is really in control.  Go over to my extended post on this at my personal blog here, and learn the rest of the story. ;)

Have you ever looked back on your journey, and discovered just how perfect God's timing is? What are some instances that He's used to give you a glimpse at His plan for you?


Angie Dicken is a mom of four children and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she writes historical, historical romance, and dabbles in contemporary romance. Her debut, The Outlaw's Second Chance from Harlequin Love Inspired Historical releases in September of 2017, and her novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah from Barbour, releases in November 2017. Angie is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. 
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kaybee said...

Angie, this is an amazing post and something I find myself needing to relearn on a regular basis. I can relate to everything here. He will not use us until we're refined and ready to be used.
I've wanted to write novels since I was six years old, and God has been refining me all this time. SO much needed to happen first. SO much still needs to happen.
I used to spiral downward when someone else "got" something in writing that I wanted. That was before I found Seekerville and Writers Alley, where everyone else really wants you to succeed. You can't be jealous of Christian writers, they won't let you.
A big step for me was learning to put writing, even Christian writing, in its proper place. God has really dealt with me on this. I don't pray for my own writing in special group prayer sessions or when I fast and pray. There are so many more important things to pray for, such as People Being Saved. Getting my priorities straight has been a huge lesson, and one I review daily.
It's a journey.
Kathy Bailey

Angie Dicken said...

Thank you, Kathy, for adding such wonderful insight to this. Yes, you are right, we need to put, sometimes wrestle, our writing in its proper place. I realize that there were times, and I am sure there could be times in the future, where my writing came dangerously close to becoming an idol. Something I thought gave me value. I must remember that I write because He allows me too, and He chooses to use it as He sees fit...not because I beg and expect...but because I am obedient and allow Him to work through it on my heart, and hopefully, on others' hearts.
Many Blessings to you!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Angie, this post. So beautiful and transparent. And I found myself nodding my head throughout it because I've had some of those same thoughts and hard lessons to learn. I can't tell you how I happy-danced when I read about your contracts. I LOVE how God orchestrated His best in your life in His timing.

And this line: " I needed brokenness to become stronger and know that my strength has nothing to do with me."

This spoke deep to me.

God's timing is perfect. He keeps reminding me about that on my own writing journey. I'm learning to lean into that truth and embrace it.

Can't wait to hold your books in my hands!

Rachelle O'Neil said...

Wow, what an incredibly encouraging post, Angie! I, too, struggle with accepting God's timing. I know with my head that His timing is perfect and that He has things to teach me in my season of waiting, but sometimes my heart struggles to rest in that. This reminder is a big help to me. :)

Angie Dicken said...

Thank you for your sweet support of my journey, and sharing your own. I can't wait to see what God has in store for you!

Are you going to ACFW?


Angie Dicken said...

Thank you, Rachelle! I am so glad that you were encouraged. I am so thankful for all the writers who've encouraged me over the years, and it makes me so happy to know that this post helped you!