We are More Than What we Do (aka what you think about when your book release is delayed)

On Wednesday of last week I made a big announcement – I announced that my book, Between Worlds, was coming out on July 1. I excitedly wrote the post, I received comments and emails and affirmation. I received so much more than I anticipated.

And on Friday I found out that the release will be delayed. Truth is, I’ve been given no actual date. And suddenly my identity, so secure in my blog post, took a beating. The ‘what ifs’ began and they attacked with venom. “What if it doesn’t come out this summer?” “What if people lose interest?” “What if no one buys it?” “What if no one reads it?” “What if no one likes it?”

“Last night, while I lay thinking here, some What ifs crawled inside my ear and pranced and partied all night long and sang their same old ‘What if’ song” says Shel Silverstein in a children’s poem and I remember this poem as I get wounded with the ‘what-ifs.’ “Everything seems well” he says “and then the night-time ‘what ifs’ strike again”

So I try to push away the ‘what ifs’ and I’m again struck by this truth: It is so easy to be defined by what we do, to get caught up in it and lose sight of other, far more important things. We become successful doctors or ministers, lawyers or nurses, professors or plumbers. And all goes along as planned. We meet people and proudly tell them what we do – it is, in the west, integral to who we are. While other parts of the world define themselves by whose they are, by what tribe they belong to, by who their family is, we in the West define ourselves and assign worth based on what we do.

In the western world we are what we do. Or that’s what we think.

And then an unexpected event comes into our life plans and we find ourselves in a world of confusion and loss. Who are we? What is our worth? What gives us value? The reality is we are all so much more than what we do. We are more than our occupations. We are more than our hobbies. We are more than our blogs. We are more than our Facebook pages and Instagram accounts. So much more.

And I am more than this book.

We are spouses and children, moms and dads, friends and colleagues. We are people made in God’s image who want to work, create, write and make a difference. But we get caught up in corporate ladders, pay checks, opinion, people’s reactions and responses, and for the blogger –  the number of likes or comments on our posts.

In every occupation, in every vocation there is an underbelly. And the underbelly can pull you down and trap you, keeping you from focusing on your God-ordained purpose.

So here’s the thing: My book isn’t coming out yet. And when it does I will make a big splash, because I love celebrations and I’d like to celebrate with you, but until then deep in my soul I need reminding that I am more than a book, or a blog, or an occupation of any sort.

What about you? Do you need reminding that you are more than what you do? Do you struggle to believe that your inherent worth is as one created in the image of God? 

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some What ifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old What if song:
What if I’m dumb in school?
What if they’ve closed the swimming pool?
What if I get beat up?
What if there’s poison in my cup?
What if I start to cry?
What if I get sick and die?
What if I flunk that test?
What if green hair grows on my chest?
What if nobody likes me?
What if a bolt of lightning strikes me?
What if I don’t grow tall?
What if my head starts getting smaller?
What if the fish won’t bite?
What if the wind tears up my kite?
What if they start a war?
What if my parents get divorced?
What if the bus is late?
What if my teeth don’t grow in straight?
What if I tear my pants?
What if I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime What ifs strike again!
What if by Shel Silverstein


Stacy is back and with her – some fig muffins! These look amazing. Stacy says this: “These muffins are made with fig jam and topped with some dried Black Mission figs. Figs remind me of summer and of my grandmothers’ trees and spending time with family in the small Louisiana town where I was born.” Take a look here for the recipe!  http://www.foodlustpeoplelove.com/2014/06/figgy-jam-muffins.html


17 thoughts on “We are More Than What we Do (aka what you think about when your book release is delayed)

  1. We are so looking forward to it when it comes out. We can be patient and when it does we’ll celebrate right along with you… celebrating not a book but YOU! xxxx


  2. Hi Marilyn, been reading “Americanah” by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In it, the Nigerian female protagonist dates a white man who’s always buzzing about trying to find something for them to do. She finds it odd “because she has grown up not doing, but being.”

    Thought that quote is relevant to this post today. You did something good (book), but keep being Marilyn!


    1. I love that book Cindy! And thanks for reminding me of that part. I love the word picture of just being. So thank you–for the reminder of this on the book and for your affirmation through your words.


  3. How have I been so busy that I missed this fabulous news, Marilyn?! I knew you had it in you. I just knew it. Busting out all over with pride in you! Please let us know when they are taking pre-orders. I want to be the first in line!


    1. Ahhh – so fun to read this! And thank you! I’m waiting with bated breath (what does that expression even mean??) to hear when it will be available. We were so sure of the July 1 date. But all things in His time. I’m so not in control of this process.


  4. This is something I’ve felt many times, so reading this post was so helpful and a great reminder that we are more than what we do! It’s easy to forget that, but so important to remember it!! :) Thanks for always having the right words to express what many of us feel!

    And I echo that writing your book is already an enormous accomplishment and something you should be so proud of. And no matter when it comes out, we’ll all be here to celebrate with you! :)


    1. It is so easy to forget! Like as soon as I press publish I’m back to my old ways :) But yes, critically important. I wonder if it feels even more important for those of us who create – we so put our souls into everything that we do…..And thanks so much for hanging on for the celebration!


  5. Absolutely needed to hear this today – had similar thoughts last night! You’re so right, the What Ifs can make up a song for an entire night…And yes, we so easily look at what we do instead of who we are. These moments always teach me that we have a long way to go to find our identity rooted so firmly in Christ that no ridiculous What if of the present can shake us.
    You are a writer and an encourager, no matter when this book will come out. And I am sure there’s tons of people ready to celebrate with you then!


    1. I love the way he talks about What ifs like they are creepy bugs….I think about this identity piece so much. From a TCK perspective, from a creative perspective….mostly from a child of God perspective. Thank you for your words at the end of this comment. They are so affirming and kind!


  6. Absolutely love this. Recently, I was asked, “What did you do before you had kids?” Before kids? Um, well, nothing. I didn’t DO anything. I went to school. I studied. I took tests and passed. I got married. And then I had kids. I didn’t have a career. Sort of deflating because the person asking had the opposite experience. I just reminded myself I’m a human being, not a human doing, and tried not to go home too depressed. (Who am I kidding, I went home depressed, and stayed that way for a few days.) And so interesting to me is that what God has me “doing” in life seems so inconsequential, but is meaningful to me. And I didn’t find a lot of my ministry focus in life until after children, anyway. Still not something that’s really resume-worthy though. (Whoa that got to be a longer comment than I expected. Still, love the post.)


    1. “Being” instead of “doing” like Cindy references above. And if there is one thing I’ve learned with kids – it is so important to just “be” – Also don’t stop the length of your comments. You always have tremendous insight and it’s a gift – not only for me but for other readers. Loved your two recent posts – the one on ALOS and the one on patriotism!


  7. The fact that you wrote the book should be an accomplishment in itself. Whether people like it or buy it is totally subjective and has nothing to do with your worth. Writing my book was cathartic and ultimately I wrote it for myself. So celebrate and wallow in your success. You are already a success!


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