A few years ago, I went through an experience that resulted in me re-evaluating my life and what I was doing with it. It wasn’t a fun process, but it was a worthy one.
I culled things and, frankly, some people from my life. Those who sought to build themselves up by tearing me down. Those who looked me in the face and lied to me. Those who deceived me and betrayed me and felt no remorse for doing so—even felt justified in doing so.
It wasn’t easy. It was difficult, but it was necessary. With the gift of hindsight, I see how much joy and balance these people were draining from my life. It wasn’t their fault, by the way. They didn’t take a thing that I didn’t give them. I recognized it and stopped giving, and I am a better person for it.
One of the most difficult things I changed was what I was writing. I’ve always had a writing rule not to write a book I didn’t love. I’ve always written books with suspense, romance and mystery in them—in just about every genre except horror. I love thrillers. I love suspense, mystery and romance. And if I put all those elements in a book, then I’m a really happy writer.
The other thing I did that many didn’t realize was include a spiritual element in my books. I’ve always been a spiritual person, and after this experience, I wanted to bring that element out of the background—the motivating factors for characters’ actions—and into the foreground. And so I did in the Crossroads Crisis Center series.
It was a scary move. I had a strong career going in the general market and frankly I wasn’t sure how I’d be received in the inspirational market. I did the Crossroads three books and then three more in the Lost-Inc. series. They all did okay. Reviewers and Readers were for the most part positive. But there were some who were not happy with reading more about the spiritual element.
I received one note that sticks with me. In it, the reader had a bit to say about this “change” and that she loved my writing and when I got over this phase, she’d be back.
That letter sort of encapsulated the whole of the responses. Some liked it, some didn’t, some saw very little difference from what I’d been writing, and some absolutely, positively hated it.
This created challenges but also blessings. I had to evaluate my reaction and my resolve. It was, simply put, a test. What I discovered during the process was that I am—and really always have been—a bridge walker.
Most haven’t heard that term and there’s a reason for that. I kind of created it to describe what kind of writer and person I choose to be.
At one end of the bridge is the secular or general market. At the other end is the inspirational market. In the middle is where I am. Not fully accepted on either end, but doing what I’m called to do, walking the bridge.
At first, this troubled me. I felt alone. But in the years since that experience, I’ve discovered that most of us are on that bridge. We have faith, we believe, and we do our best to walk in faith. But we live in a secular world, and many in that secular world are lost and wounded and seeking something. They gravitate to us because we’re not “over the top” or so far removed from them in their lives that they feel getting to a spiritual place is impossible for them. They fear they’re so far removed from the spiritual that they’ll be judged and found lacking.
Some believe that people of faith are all about being judgmental and harsh and their own experiences have left them feeling they’ll never measure up or being accepted much less find their place. With very few exceptions, that’s not been my experience, but many have experienced it.
I see now, these folks too are on the bridge. They seek more, want more, need more from and in their spiritual lives than they have now, but they can’t seem to find a place where they belong and feel valued.
That’s proven the case in my life and in my writing. And it’s why I’m writing series like the Shadow Watchers. Those characters were born in Crossroads Crisis Center and continue in their own. THE MARKED BRIDE is the first book in Shadow Watchers. It’s a Bridge-Walker book and hasn’t been out long enough to gauge whether or not it’ll be accepted by readers. So far, feedback has been good from inspirational and secular readers. One secular reviewer commented she hadn’t realized it was inspirational until it came up that the protagonist prays on everything important in his life. That’s been about the only remark on this end, and it kind of surprised me. Until I read that comment, I honestly thought all spiritual people prayed on things important to them. So I learned something important to know there.
Anyway, my point is that a life-altering experience isn’t something you get over. One day, I hope my writing will enjoy the secure footing it once did. I can’t believe that I was brought to this kind of writing and I won’t be brought through it.
Either way, the spiritual demands that we do what we believe we’re called to do. I am on solid ground on that front, and the rest will work out as it’s intended. Your prayers on this would be greatly appreciated.
For these reasons, notice is hereby given that, until directed otherwise, I’ll remain on the bridge, doing what I can to help others heal, and hoping it’s enough.