Not every single year, but many years during the season of Lent I abstain from something for 40 days. This year, 2012, I took time off from promoting my own book, blogs, etc.
What did I spend this new extra time doing?
I read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
And I promoted other people’s work.
What did I learn? Well, I learned what you suspected anyway—my heart was not in the right place.
Before February 22, while I entered the information about my book into various social networks, my heart was filled with complaint (because of lack of sales), self doubt (questioning the content of what I wrote) and disappointment. Okay, which one of these was healthy and would drive up the sales?
So I took time off for 40 days.
And with all the self loathing that I was experiencing before Lent, you’d think the time off during Lent would be super easy.
I thought about it every single one of those 40 days.
But the fast was refreshing. And I’ll tell you why.
First of all, spending time with God in His word is always refreshing. I adore the Torah, and taking 40 days to study it extensively is always a treasure. I learned that God’s ways are not my ways. Woohoo!!!
I learned that my complaining ran parallel to the Israelites’ complaining. Uh, can you say ‘conviction’? The best kind, of course. The kind that leads to life and wholeness. Shalom.
I had been complaining in my heart of hearts that I’d never be successful as a writer.
What was I thinking? I could put in hours, I could have skill and talent galore, and I still wouldn’t make it anywhere without the favor and timing of God. If it’s not in His plan, do I really want to be doing this? And if it is in His plan, do I really need all the self-flagellation and groaning?
Here’s what else I learned, and I want you to pay real close attention to this, otherwise you might miss it: I’m glad I wrote what I did, because it was what God had put on my heart to write. Did you catch that? Because there’s something in it for you. I’ll say it again, I’m glad I wrote what I did. No second guessing. No, “Oh, if only I had done this, or that with the book.”
Granted, my writing skills are always growing and improving, so I’m not at all saying that it’s the best thing since Shakespeare. One day I hope to be that good, but I’m not today. And that’s okay.
I’m done with second guessing about The Elite of the Weak. It’s what God put on my heart. And I like it, in a very ‘outside of myself” kind of way. Those 40 days away from my book helped.
What else did I learn?
That there are some incredible indie books out there. The indie market is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and I’m glad I’m in that circuit. I get to help others who are in the same boat as me, throwing their beloved stories out into an overstuffed pool, hoping someone notices and picks it up. I get to help another writer by pushing their book to the top so it’d get noticed.
I became ecstatic when a fellow writer’s book began to sell. I’m not talking just mildly happy, it brightened my whole day. There were no more questions in my heart of ‘Why them and not me?’ And I was more than happy to see those questions gone. (Psst, readers like to read 😉 and they’ll still want to read when they put down my book.)
Are you new to the business? Do you have a book you’re getting ready to put out there? Do you want people to promote your book for you? Do for others what you would have them do for you. It helps more than you think it will. You do reap what you sow.
And lastly, listen to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit. If He’s prompting you to do something different from what everyone else around you says should be done, listen to Him. Even when it’s hard. When you listen to Him, I promise that times of refreshing will come.
God bless you!
Sarah Smith, writing as Precarious Yates
Final note: One of the main reasons I was fasting during Lent was to participate in the 40 Days Fast for Freedom with the Not For Sale campaign. They work raising awareness about modern day slavery. They work with survivors of sex slave trafficking. They also implement various programs in nations where the citizens (particularly children) are vulnerable, and they try to prevent the occurrence of slavery before it even starts. The issue of modern day slavery is a heart wrenching issue, but I encourage you—if you don’t know about it, take some time to educate yourself. I have many links on my website as places to begin your research.