Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Writing

How to Find Joy When Someone Else Gets What You Want

Lindsey Smallwood

When your friend gets a book deal and you get crickets on a blog post, how do you keep going with joy? I'm writing today for the first time over at iBelieve.com on jealousy, comparison and what prosperity really means. 

My friend just wrote a book.

She sent me an advance copy and it is perfect. Sharp, witty storytelling, incisive ideas, a darling cover with cool, scripty font. I loved holding the result of all of her hard work in my hands, posting a glowing Amazon review and texting her my enthusiastic congratulations.

I hate what happened next, the feelings coming in a flood, each one all too familiar.

Jealousy.
Fear.
Self-doubt.

Whether it's cheering on a friend for accomplishing a lifetime dream or seeing an Instagram pic of a gorgeous birthday cake my neighbor made for her husband, I find myself constantly comparing my life to those around me, wondering how I measure up. Will a publisher ever offer me a book contract? Why did she get that opportunity when I didn't? Does my husband care that he got a burned cake from a box mix on his special day? Beneath those are deeper, more persistent questions...

Continue reading at iBelieve by clicking here.

When It's Bigger Than You Thought

Lindsey Smallwood

I’ve been on the road lately.

Last fall a nearby church invited me to speak to their mom’s group about neighboring, being present to the people God puts in our path. The talk was well received and the group leader shared my name and contact information with other mom’s groups in the state. Since then I’ve fielded invitations from many group leaders to come and encourage their women with funny stories and a fresh dose of truth.

It’s been a blast.

I’ve spoken to rancher’s wives in a tiny farm town, rocked the microphone in a strip-mall church start-up, and found myself in front of a stained glass window telling a story about failed efforts at breastfeeding.

Last week I invited my friend Gina to join me as I headed down to a nearby suburb to speak at a nighttime gathering of young moms. We had about an hour in the car to catch up while we made our way to the meeting. I had entered the address the group leader sent into my GPS, so although I was following instructions about when to turn, I wasn’t paying much attention to where we were going.

Until suddenly the computerized voice told us we’d arrived at our destination.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I was shocked. This wasn’t a tiny farm town, a small chapel with stained glass or a strip-mall start up. This was a mega-church and I mean MEGA. I’m not sure I’d ever seen a church so big in real life. It looked like it could possibly be big enough to host a professional sporting event. And the parking lot was packed.

My heart began to thud in my ears.

“Okay, wow,” I said to Gina.

“How big is this mom’s group?” she asked, echoing my own questions.

I hadn’t read the email that closely. Had they neglected to tell me that I was the opening act for Jen Hatmaker? Was it possible that I was about to speak to 3,000 women? Would my thoughts on cultivating friendships in this season of life work as well in a cavernous auditorium as they did around the table with a dozen mamas in a small town?

“Yeah, I’m not totally sure,” I replied to Gina, breathing deeply, trying to steady myself. I noticed in that moment that I hadn’t remembered to change my pants, which bore evidence of a day spent with 2 toddlers including food from lunch and dirt from playing at the park.

Why hadn’t I changed my pants? Why hadn’t I read the email? WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

I prayed, quickly, under my breath that God would carry me through whatever it was we were walking into and in we went.

As we entered the atrium, with 4 story ceilings and a fully appointed restaurant in view, an electronic marquee prominently displayed a listing of that day’s events. As I read the list, I felt myself relax. There were entries for a high school play rehearsal, a 7th grade basketball tournament, a support group for recovering addicts and a class about blending families after divorce.

And the mom’s group, upstairs, in a classroom down a hallway. Which sounded just about right.

When we walked into the room, we were warmly welcomed and invited to join a table full of other young moms, one of whom was also sporting dirty pants. My people.

The night was sweet, laughing and telling the truth about some of the challenges of developing relationships while raising children. We ate too much chocolate and told our real stories. One woman at my table cried as she shared how much she longs for deeper connections in this stage of life. As Gina and I said our goodbyes, I felt grateful, satisfied. I was in my sweet spot, speaking and teaching from the front, sharing stories in small groups, leading times of prayer.

Here’s the thing – I loved that night as it was, but I also loved that moment, that tiny space where I had to breathe deeply and accept that I might be about to get up in front of a stadium full of people. It was scary and thrilling and reminded me when life doesn’t go according to plan we can lean into what we know to be true.

That dirty pants don’t actually matter.

That God is present for big jobs and little ones.

That all we need to remember is to do the next thing.

If you’re lucky, the next thing will have fun new friends and a plenty of chocolate.

 

This post originally appear at Maeve's A Wee Spoon.

I Don't Want to Forget

Lindsey Smallwood

At Middle Places this month, we're ReCounting - preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving by taking time to remember. Today I'm holding on to sticky fingers and chubby-cheeked smiles... 

I’ve been feeling schmoopy this week.

That’s the word my husband and I use when we feel sentimental and all overflowing with a gushy kind of love.

I keep looking at my kids – two boys ages 1 and 2 – and feeling sad that some day they’re going to grow up and leave home. I am enjoying this season so much and the thought that someday they’ll be big giant men who don’t need me makes my heart wilt a little.

Jen Hatmaker keeps telling me that teenagers are fun too. Carol, our MOPS mentor mom, told our group of mothers-of-preschoolers that her favorite season of parenting has been having adult children. So I’m trying to believe them and know that I’ll enjoy what comes next too, but oh, the cheeks! The lisps! The cuddles! It all seems so exquisite right now.

The other night as we were reading bedtime stories to the boys, I leaned over to my husband and said wistfully “We’re going to forget this, you know? These days, they’re all just going to seem like a big blur of diapers and legos and swiffering the floor all the livelong day. We’re going to forget the smiles and the storytimes and the giggles.”

He looked at me thoughtfully.

“Yeah, maybe, “ he replied. “But we’ll have your blog. Don’t you think your writing will help us remember?”

I’ve been turning it over in my head, wondering if he’s right.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I started again in earnest in February, during Lent, finding my voice after taking a sabbatical from social media. At first it was a rush, giving voice to stories with no other place to be told, welcoming feedback from friends new and old.

Then it was a personal challenge, writing as a way to grow my skills at the craft, submitting to magazines and websites, working with editors and learning how to revise my work to fit in other contexts.

More recently it’s been a discipline. After a miscarriage last month and a long bout of illness at home, I’ve been fighting exhaustion and some feelings of depression. Writing has been a means of getting in touch with my real self, tuning into the sadness and confusion, rather than trying to drown it out with busyness and Netflix reruns.

In the midst of all of these, it’s been my hope that my writing will be a way to give glory to God, to find Him in the midst of my ordinary life and point to His grace for those who are willing to see.

But maybe in addition to praising God and processing feelings, beyond connecting with people online and growing my skill set, maybe writing is a way of remembering, of chronicling now for someday.

For someday when my babies aren’t babies and life doesn’t look the way it does today anymore.

Their baby books are mostly empty, save a couple locks of hair and their teeny-tiny hospital bracelets. But as I watch them grow, as I watch me grow, as I’m changing and learning, I’m writing it down to remember. I’m recounting today so that it’s gifts and lessons can be cherished for the days to come.

You guys, their little heads smell like heaven and their chubby hands are the most perfect things I’ve ever held.

And I don’t want to forget.

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places. 

Shaking the Dust Off

Lindsey Smallwood

Today I'm over at the Redbud Writer's Guild blog, a community of women where I'm so proud to belong. The topic is rejection, which I'm learning, is never the end of the story...

I got rejected this week. 

It was an article, a story I was a really proud of, submitted to a prestigious magazine where a couple of my friends have been published recently. I'd polished the prose, even had someone look it over before I sent it in, only to receive a not-unfamiliar response. 

"Thank you for your submission but..."

Pricks of disappointment coupled with waves of insecurity began to wash over me. It's hard not to take it personally, to see someone else's lack of need or interest in your gifts as a statement of your value. My instinct is to self-criticize, picking myself apart and looking for weaknesses. And while a healthy amount of reflection is reasonable, cruising on the "I'm-so-lame" train doesn't help anyone...

I didn’t know this when I was younger. In my teens and twenties I let rejection tell untrue stories about me. After finding out that I wasn’t invited to a party or that I hadn’t gotten into to a program I was excited about, I would wallow, sometimes for weeks, in “Why (not) me’s?” and “They’re the ones missing out.” and “Maybe I’m not good enough’s…”

Oh man. So much missing the point.

The truth is if you want to be a person who accomplishes anything that matters, you have to take risks. Risks inevitably open up the possibility of failure and rejection. And when we find ourselves rejected, left out, looked over, wallowing is a waste. Those are moments instead to start anew, try again, finding new opportunities to use our gifts for God’s glory.

We have a great example in Jesus, who Peter described as “rejected by men but chosen in the sight of God.” Jesus was left out, despised, misunderstood by so many, but instead of holding onto that reality He clung to His identity as God’s beloved son. His focus was always on His mission, telling the truth about God everywhere He went. This is our model, living out our callings as beloved children of God, even when we find ourselves excluded from places we really want to belong.

It’s a lesson I keep learning.

When this summer I was passed over for a leadership position in a community group I’m involved with –

As I find myself adding another rejection letter to my file.

After Facebook shows me I wasn’t invited to a friend’s party.

Even though it feels personal, rejection is usually situational. It’s about timing, space and compatibility, it doesn’t speak to who we fundamentally are. The truest thing about us is that we are created and welcomed and wanted by a loving God. A God, who through Jesus, initiates a new kingdom where there is work to be done and not a lot of room for wallowing.

In my writing, my participation in local organizations, my friendships, my hope is to glorify the God who made me and gifted me with words and skills and relationships. I want to follow the kingdom way of Jesus, who encouraged his disciples to face rejection by shaking the dust off their feet and moving on toward new places of ministry and influence.

As I shake the dust off here in my corner of the kingdom, I’m remembering again that when following Jesus, rejection is never the end of the story.

 

This article originally appeared at The Redbud Post.