"I made the cut!”
How satisfying to announce to family and friends that my writing had passed several editing cuts and was finally going to be published--with compensation.
Initially, money wasn’t my motivation for submitting. I was just thrilled that somebody judged my thoughts interesting enough to publish. And I can’t deny that feedback from readers is as refreshing as a glass of sweet tea after mowing the lawn.
But somehow, simply saving my columns in an album became less satisfying. I needed validation. I needed to be paid.
Months passed. I received numerous messages from the editor about the sluggishness of the process. “The check is in the mail” became a running joke between my girlfriends and me.
However, it finally arrived.
I stuck it on the refrigerator and admired it daily for a month.
My girlfriends asked how I would spend it, and I answered, “If I took one or two of you to Starbucks, I could easily blow it there.” But the amount wasn’t important; the fact that I was a paid “author” was!
Last week, I decided to cash it. I remembered I wanted to take our winter quilt to the laundromat, so I asked the teller for lots of ones, which made my pay seem even skimpier.
Driving away, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m going to spend this at the laundromat. This is my writing money, after all!”
Later I pushed some cash on a very poor college student whom I know extremely well.
After that, my husband presented me with a chopped, grass-stained $10 bill that he had shredded while mowing. I recognized that $10 and wept.
Actually, I laughed at the irony of it all. As John Ortberg says about both Monopoly money and real-life possessions, “It all goes back in the box,” or, “You can’t take it with you.”
Even on a small scale, money and validation are nice, but they’re not permanent. Only relationships are.
Sometimes, when my written words strike a cord with or encourage someone, I see that my writing has indeed fostered relationship, and that is intensely rewarding.
So I’m just going to keep focusing on what I feel God has called me to do for his purposes, according to Philippians 1:6: “ … being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Ultimately, he is the one for whom I write. My sense of significance and meaning comes from him.
Everything else is just sweet tea.