I came up with the idea for the story (though the Mystery Girl had a different title back then) and wrote about half before I put it away. I got married, had my children, and dealt with all the ups and downs that life brings. It just was not time for the story to come out. Sometimes it is hard to see God's perfect plan and timing and it is so easy for us to get impatient when we do not see progress. That was me. I could not figure out why it just was not coming together. I wondered if I was even supposed to write it.
Then about six years ago I pulled out what I had written and began reworking the main idea, merging another story with it to make it more interesting. I came up with the title around that time too. It was a phrase that had a very personal meaning to me and I wanted to get an important point out to the young teens who might be struggling with the same issue of their identity in Christ. I did not get very far. In fact, after my dad passed away in 2015 I got such a horrible case of writer's block that nothing came easily. I wondered if I would ever be able to write again. I prayed for the Lord to bring inspiration again but all I got was a solid brick wall. Nothing. I thought that if only I could get a little doorway through that wall, or even just a window, to see the light come shining through once again. Old thoughts began to come back. Thoughts like "maybe what you have to say isn't important anyway," or "nobody wants to hear what you have to say. You're just a nobody in this world."
You see, ever since I had been a teenager, I had dealt with insecurity in who I was. There was a lack of confidence in what I said, always hiding in the shadows hoping that I did not displease anyone. I did not understand the depths of love and why God would love little old me. I always had a pretty good relationship with Him growing up, making Him my own around the young age of eight. I read my Bible every day and prayed, and I can truly say it was the Lord Who helped me through all my tough teens years. I simply do not know how teenagers get through those years without the help of the Lord. But the one idea that kept going through my mind all those years was that I was a "mystery girl" to all those who did not know me. That term was my companion for many years, and one day I shared my deepest thoughts with my husband. We talked it through and he gave me encouragement to share what I felt with others. He said it almost sounded like a good title for a book for teen girls and I liked his idea. I just did not know if I was ready to share it with the world or not. It was not time.
For about three or more years now, I 've been working on this book, writing a little before getting interrupted and putting it away for a while before getting the itch to write some more. The story began taking on its own form, then I would reread what I had written and find something that needed to be changed and work on that for a bit before putting it down again. It did not feel like I was getting anywhere with it. Then COVID hit, giving me time to sit down and do some writing. Finally, FINALLY, I finished it last summer, and thus began the long painful process of edits. Rereading it, making more changes, letting others read it to see if it flowed smoothly and made sense, cutting out parts that were not necessary to the story, then morphing the words to say what needed to be said. What was the hardest part was the idea that whoever read the book would be looking into my very soul, the deepest part of me that had haunted me for so many years. Did I really want that out in the open? I was still unsure about that idea.
Back in December, while we were dealing with our own issues of COVID in our home, I let Joe read the story. I wanted him to truly know that part of me and understand my heart. I think he took away a lot more than I ever imagined when he read what I had written. It was like something clicked inside of him and God began moving through him to show me love. Real, true love. Now, we have always had a good marriage. We always said, "I love you," and we have had a close relationship. I can count on one hand the few arguments we have had over almost 22 years of marriage. So, it was with great surprise that as the new year began he started to do some writing of his own and what came of it became something very special. It was a gift for my birthday. He wrote a little story entitled, "Cara's Five Perfect Days." I did not know what to expect but when I began reading, the tears poured down my face. It was only five chapters long, but I could only read one chapter at a time so what he wrote could settle into my head. In the last chapter Joe wrote about a scene where God reveals Himself to me as a loving Father. It truly was a gift of love. And as my book was completed around the same time, I found that in the process of writing my heart had begun to heal. I found the true meaning of love through Joe's gift and suddenly I understood how God truly viewed me and loved me.
So, that Valentine's Day, I was up in Vermont, visiting my mother. It was just Joe and I who had gone up and we had a very quiet weekend, catching up and enjoying our visit together. I went into the shower that Sunday morning to prepare for the day and that was when God revealed Himself. It was in the very same shower where I had shed tears of uncertainty and frustration as a teenager. His voice, though not audible, was heard loud and clear.
"This was where it all started and this is where it ends. You are no longer the mystery girl. You are my daughter, and I am your Father. And I love you."
I stood there with the water running over me, overwhelmed at the very thought that God had just revealed to me. It was like I was wrapped in a warm hug as peace and reassurance washed over me. And just like that I knew that I was healed. Because of my book. Because of God's timing. Because of Joe's expression of love. But most of all, because of God.
Overwhelmed. Loved. I am loved. There may be hard times just around the corner. There may be trials, struggles, and hardships, and yes, even times when I may feel distant from the Lord again, but I want to remember that day. That moment. The feeling that God, my Father, loves ME! I am a daughter of the King and I am not a mystery. He knows me. He knows my heart. And still loves me. That is the message I want to share with all the teen girls out there. Well, with all the women out there who share the same struggle. Maybe even some young men (and older men) who may struggle with where they stand with the Lord too. If I was 45 when my eyes were opened, then I'm sure there are others out there who need to hear it too. And I must say, my love for the Lord and for my husband is deeper than it ever was and my journey is only beginning.
"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Jeremiah 31:3