Four things I Stink at but Had to do All at Once

Sep 13, 2017 by

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“You are good at so many things!”

Being one who still struggles to see past my mistakes and flaws to the things I do well, it’s hard for me to own this compliment, but because I have come a long way, and for the sake of today’s point, I will. I love to write, sing, make things, teach (kids, not adults) and encourage others, and all of the above comes naturally to me. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point, the girl who the The Cool Group snubbed grew into an adult woman who has been told she has a gift for cultivating friendships. The mystery behind that may never be solved, but I won’t deny that I have a lot of really good friends. I also won’t deny that I’ve developed a talent for the art of finding joy in a not-so-easy life.

So there’s my list. Sometimes we need to celebrate what we’re good at, especially when we’ve just had to do what we stink at.

Here are a few items from THAT list:

  • Change
  • Disappointing people
  • Saying goodbye to friends
  • Letting go of activities that involve people I’ve grown to love

(For those of you who are considering leaving a comment reminding me that change is part of life and can even be super exciting, and that Jesus disappointed people all the time so I must be willing to, lest I become a people pleaser and not a God pleaser… Just don’t.)

I had to do all these things at once recently, when my friend Susy and I decided it was time for us to step down from the critique group we’ve led for four years. We weren’t upset with anyone. We still loved the group. It was just time.

[bctt tweet=”My friend Susy and I decided it was time for us to step down from the critique group we’ve led for four years.” username=”JHanscomeWriter”]

I like to compare it to when a great TV series has its final season while America still considers the characters family, so the big finale evokes a collective, “Ahhh, I’m going to miss this show. What will ever take its place?” As compared to when the creators don’t know when to call it quits even when they ran out of good material three seasons ago.

We needed to leave when God prompted us so we wouldn’t become like a stale sitcom. At least that was what I told myself as I prepared to make the big announcement with Susy.

I had never disappointed an entire roomful of people before. Since that wasn’t quite traumatic enough, I also had to break the news to friends who’d missed the meeting. I am planning ahead for what I will do when saying no to someone brings all the pain from this moment rushing back and I need to call a counselor at 2:00 a.m. Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad. But it was not fun! Not at all! Everyone was so gracious, but I don’t want to do something like that again for a very long time.

It meant knowing some of them left sad, maybe even mad, and that I helped make them sad/mad.

I had to trust their genuine love for me and Susy, give them space to be disappointed knowing I certainly would be, and stop second guessing what I knew was the right thing.

I suddenly understood how it felt to make hard-but-necessary decisions and have to deal with the fallout, and our group was being nice and understanding about it!

One Monday night a month would no longer include this gathering of writers that had taken about five seconds to love to pieces. We’d just come up with our group name—Word Warriors. I would no longer be a Word Warrior. Several of them were my friends outside critique group, but they would still have this thing going without me.

Or the group might dissolve. Because of us!

But it wasn’t long before God allowed me to see the benefits of being willing to make changes, and disappoint people, and let go of something I enjoyed while it went on without me… or didn’t.

I’d recently been invited to join a Masterminds group – seven writers who meet via Google Hangouts twice a month to help each other grow, learn, and brainstorm ideas. I could now fully invest in that without wondering if it made sense to be in a Masterminds group and a critique group.

Two weeks ago, I tried out for the Blackhawk Chorus and made it. If I hadn’t bowed out of critique group, I might have bowed out of the audition to avoid adding “one more thing.” This is my first experience with a community choir. And I’m having SO MUCH FUN!

Most importantly, I got to experience what happens among mature, supportive friends who truly care about one another. Disappointing an entire room full of people felt awful, but it did not result in losing their love, their support, or even the relationships involved. They were disappointed, but they knew me and Susy well enough to understand that we would never make a choice like this just because.

[bctt tweet=”Disappointing an entire room full of people felt awful, but it did not result in losing their love…” username=”JHanscomeWriter”]

They’ve already invited us to their Christmas party.

Each of us in on the 2018 Word Warriors calendar as a guest speaker.

On Monday night, Debbie (one of our members) hosted a tea for the group. She’d planned it before the big announcement, so it became a farewell tea. People showed up who hadn’t attended critique group in months, or in one case over a year. One of our new members made Susy and me a beautiful necklace. They expressed their appreciation for us, prayed for us, wanted us to stay while they discussed their future plans, and sent us away with hugs and reminders that we will always be friends. And not only because we will still see each other at writers’ conferences.

Look at the size of this group!

I know better than to expect things to play out this smoothly every time I need to disappoint someone or make a change, but at least I have this experience to look back on as evidence that I will live. That sometimes change is needed even if it goes against everything we feel comfortable with.

Those who genuinely love us will still love us, and will still be there, just in a different way.


How well do you handle change or disappointing others? When has God prompted you to let go of something? What benefits came from your willingness to obey?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

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  1. You’ll probably never know this side of Heaven how many people you’ve helped over the years, or how many love you. I’m one of them.

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