I’ve been struggling to find a new direction for my blog. It felt right a while ago to wipe all my old posts and start over, partly because I’ve had to do that with my life. I’m definitely not the same person I was even a couple of years ago — that’s actually just fine. I was lost but now I am found. I departed the path of truth and light, choosing instead to walk by my own light through the mists of confusion. Tossed as a ship without an anchor on a stormy sea, I lived a private hell. But that was then and this is now.
Rather than focusing on where I’ve been, I’m working on where I am and where I want to go. I hadn’t been to church in years until I moved to the Phoenix area a little over a year ago. Had you told me that was where my life was heading when I was a headstrong student at Brigham Young University, I don’t know how I would’ve reacted, but likely I wouldn’t have believed it. Life can take you in interesting, unforeseen directions. This experience has taught me to be kinder and more accepting of those who struggle, because ultimately that’s what life is all about: struggle.
My struggle brought me down to the dust, severely humbled me past the point I thought possible. And I learned in humbling myself before God there is true power in forgiveness. I don’t claim to be perfect, otherwise why would a Savior be necessary? But I do know my life is finally back on track after years of constantly being derailed by one who should have had my best interests in mind.
This brings to mind my experiences as a young missionary in Honduras working with a companion from Nicaragua. He was difficult to work with and made it well known he didn’t really like Americans and especially didn’t like me. I struggled with the language (because Honduran Spanish is nothing like what you learn in school), came down with a nasty case of cholera and landed in a hospital emergency room, since my companion wouldn’t believe I was truly sick. Then a few weeks later the country was hit by a Category 5 hurricane called Mitch, which sat off the coast and just ripped everything to pieces for days. As I watched the streets literally fill up like rivers and the homes around us begin to crumble, people dying by the thousands, I thought that was it. I should have or could have died on numerous occasions, but by the grace of God I didn’t. And If I survived such horrific things with His help, the same is possible now.
It’s not exactly easy to share any of this. But I’ve felt compelled to start telling my story, even though I’m not really sure why. Maybe someone out there needs to hear that no matter how lost you feel, the Lord is always waiting with arms open. That’s true even if some people at church don’t entirely walk the path of discipleship by doing the same; remember they’re not God. It’s not too late to come back and enjoy the direction and safety which the Lord eagerly desires to extend to you. There’s too much hate and uninformed judgement in this world, but with the Lord he meets you where you are and helps you get the rest of the way, even if the world says for you there’s no hope. You are not lost forever.
The past year is the most clear-minded and well-composed I’ve felt in far too long. I’ve had to make difficult, painful changes, but not shying away from that has allowed me to start building the life I’ve always wanted but which seemed to constantly slip through my fingers. Things aren’t perfect but they are better and improving.
And now the fruits of my labors are ripening, including publishing books. I haven’t published a book since 2012, despite many people asking when a sequel to Gracie the Ghost Eater would be available. I’ve struggled for the past three-plus years to just complete a rough draft. Maybe some have given up on me, and that’s understandable, but that sequel will be out this year. The manuscript is currently in the later stages of editing, so I can feel confident saying that. I don’t have a publication date yet but will definitely post it here once I do.
I have more book projects, some which are so different I don’t know how people will even regard them. Maybe my stories are too original, too out there in a world where we crave safety and replication. But maybe they’re exactly what some people need to read. I don’t know. I’m going to keep writing and not worry too much about it, because these stories need to be told and nobody else is doing it.
Perhaps the new direction of my blog should follow the new direction of my life: stepping into the light as a writer and trying to do better. I struggle, I fail, I get back up with the Lord’s help, and I try again. It’s a better life than being that ship without an anchor in the stormy sea. It’s time to embrace who and what I genuinely am without fear or reservation. I admit to not doing that so well in the past, but everything is changing now.
Image by Steven Symes. All rights reserved for this blog post text and the accompanying photograph.