Learning to Enjoy the Slow Lane by Patricia Alderman
Walking into the auditorium at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, words like “imposter” and “wannabe” floated through my mind. I took a deep breath, pushed the rude comments aside, and found a seat near the front. Not as much to be closer to the speakers, as to avoid the distraction of seeing all the other people – all the writers – in the same room. In hindsight, an introverted and slightly writer-starstruck woman attending a writing conference alone might not have been the best idea.
First up was talk of Misery, Sadness and Complaints by Alison Hodgson. She’d been speaking for all of five minutes before I quickly scribbled the title of her book, The Pug List. She held us rapt with stories of vulnerability and embarrassment in a way that gave us permission and outright encouragement to laugh out loud.
And then with no warning whatsoever, she flipped the same story over right there in front of us and exposed the tender underside of her journey through grief, and what she learned along the way.
Her closing prayer still echoes clearly: As a writer, may I bind to the work God wants me to do.
Next, Leslie Leyland Fields began by confessing the need to rewrite her remarks to include the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas earlier in the week. Even in the raw sadness of her words, there was an opportunity to unite in prayer, and suddenly the room seemed a little smaller, a little less intimidating.
Leslie implored us to remember that the world needs our stories, adding:
• In a fractious, violent world, our stories can offer healing and hope;
• In a divided, politicized world, our stories can reveal that the “other” is our neighbor;
• In a darkened world, our stories can offer illumination and truth; and
• A beauty-hungry world needs our best stories, written patiently and artfully.
To that, Leslie urged us to slow down.
“Yes,” she said, “the earth is on fire. But when is it not?”
I was reminded that sometimes I not only see the sporadic fires, but I seek them out and occasionally participate in fanning the flames.
Do I really need to “like” social media posts that show disdain for viewpoints opposite to mine? Or can I, instead, offer words of encouragement and grace to those with whom I disagree.
The difference between those two choices is often the time it takes to draw a deep breath, get up and walk around, or get a cup of coffee.
So yes, Lord, bind me to the words you would have me share, and help me to offer gifts of healing, and truth with great care and intention. In a writing world where I am often trying to hurry up and get somewhere – accomplishments, achievements, acknowledgments – I was reminded that one of the best ways to be certain of God’s calling is to slow down often enough to truly hear him.
Patricia Alderman lives in Michigan, the home state she loves three seasons out of the year and is thankful for the joy of Christmas in during the fourth. She loves God, All Things Crafty and Julia Child. When in doubt, she suggests trying more prayer, more glue or more butter. Patricia also solves many of the world’s problems while relaxing with a skein of yarn and a crochet hook. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @patricialderman or her website, patriciaalderman.com