Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cliff diving

So yeah. We were standing at the precipice. Or rather I was. And trying to figure out if it made any sense at all to fling myself off.

Cue the insomnia and craziness and a downward spiral that culminated with me under my bed covers on a Sunday afternoon, completely undone from all the worrying and thinking. And then, Enter Husband.

I feel like I keep saying that Kenny is amazing. And a lot of you hear that as white noise. But it's not. I don't say it because it's the nice wifely thing to say. I say it because it is the STONE COLD TRUTH. He's incredible.

And he gently started talking me down. And he said a lot of things that were soothing and uplifting and encouraging. But he dropped a little pearl that stuck out. He said that I write books that give a lot of women a chance to escape hard situations and allow them some laughter and relief for a few hours. He said that it was really important for me to keep doing that because it was a blessing for them.

Me. I, the maker of meringues.

I do that? Could he be right? Because if he was right, if beyond making people laugh I actually delivered a tender mercy that God needed someone to have, then . . .

I should keep writing and stress a lot less about it all.

So I treasured that pearl, that single shiny thought, and then just two days later, I got an email from a stranger.

This isn't unusual. People often track me down through my author website and send me emails. "Loved your book!" "You're funny!" It makes me feel very narcissistic and ridiculous sometimes, but I'm not going to lie: fan mail is incredibly fun.

But this was something different. This was an email about The List, a book that I definitely did not write with the intention of setting the world on fire. I wrote it for fun, because I thought it might be fun to read. And it's about Not My Type where I tried to share a very personal feeling I have about the transformative power of gratitude, but of course it's done with very little seriousness. And this is what the email from a total stranger said in a week where I wondered if it made sense for me to do what I do and where my husband had been close enough to the Spirit to suggest an answer. The writer said: : When I read The List I laughed at myself realizing how many of the situations Ashley had with Matt were just like ones I've had with my ex-boyfriend. Then this new book was more than an enjoyable read. My break up was long and hard and I'm still getting over it. It's not easy but after reading Not My Type I was able step back and reevaluate, a lot. I feel like you were inspired in your writing, at least for me. I can't wait for more of your books to come. Again thank you for your books. They have entertained, edified and educated in ways I didn't think possible. You are amazing and so are your books!

So I cried. Of course. I do that way more than people would think for someone with snark hardwired into my genetic code. And it's over super cheesy stuff too, but that's another post.

This is a post about how Heavenly Father prompts to use the talents He gave us, and then sustains us when it becomes hard to use our talents, because they matter. They matter because WE matter to Him and He uses us to get to each other, to speak to each other in ways we need at very specific moments. And so sometimes, I make people laugh when they really, really need to. And I help them to think, even. 

Yes, I feel good when I get to write. But others feel good sometimes when I get to write too, and that's why I'm supposed to be doing it. It's so humbling that it makes me want to rip open both of my published books and tear through them to make sure I've used my talent wisely. Did I do right by the gift He gave me? I hope so. But I can definitely work to do better in every new book. And to never, ever be so silly again as to think that this is or ever was about ME.

Use my hands, Lord. Please.


Susan said...

I heart this post, but you probably knew I of all people would. This is the right reason to write. And you're correct, Kenny is wonderful. You are so lucky you found him.

I'm proud of you for changing lives.

Andrew & Sarah Clawson said...

Melanie, Loved this post. I see through the lines and will continue to use my talents, and feel good about it, just like YOU will continue to make others laugh and feel good about themselves. Love you!

LisAway said...

Niiiiice. I just finished reading this story while the really sad song at the end of Cars came on (When You Find Yourself). So I'm crying.

I'm so glad you have people around you who are inspired to help you realize how you are inspiring others. :) Thanks for being awesome.

Stephanie Black said...

This is awesome, Melanie!

[Stacia] said...

I think your husband was right on.

Melissa Bastow said...


Becca said...

Love it. And love your words. Here and inside your books.

Karen Peterson said...

Oh, Melanie, I love this post. Your husband is definitely a keeper. And I'm so glad that reader took the time to write and let you know what you've done for her.

I'd say you are using your gift well. :-)

DeNae said...

I love the idea that we can be lighthearted without being lightheaded, and that in doing so we do make something of a contribution. I get those kinds of emails after conferences, and I always go through this "Eek! Was I too much of a goof to leave them with anything substantive?" kind of power-down. But I agree; if a mom can read something I've written and laugh about it, then turn around and face the myriad responsibilities awaiting her with a lighter heart and a sense of not being alone, then I think the Lord is just fine with that.

You're lucky. But so is Kenny.

Kazzy said...

You are clever and sweet and fun. I like your books and I really like you.

Enjoy Birth said...

YES! You have a gift and what a blessing you get to use it to bless others. :) Figuring out your gift takes some people a lifetime. How great you know now.

Erin G. said...

Thanks for this post. It reminds me about what I've been thinking of lately. I wrote a post on my blog about it a few days ago if you want to check it out. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who feels this way sometimes. Thanks again!