am sitting at the Philadelphia airport on my way to the ACFW
conference. I’m thinking about nerves. You’d think I’d be pondering the
conference and all the good times waiting to be had. But no, not me.
I’m thinking about nerves.
Nerves are a funny. When a
person does a particularly daring deed, we say, “Boy, she has some
nerve to do that.” Or, when that same person commits a particularly
heinous act, we say, “Boy, she has some nerve to do that.” Same words,
far different meaning. Nerves make us tingle with delight, or wince in
pain. Nerves inform our brains when a cup of coffee is too hot or a
smack with a snowball is too cold. Toothaches are nervy things. Nerves
For instance, I am so anxious
that I keep checking my pocket for my boarding pass—nervous that it
will fall to the ground, get stomped on by a zillion people, torn to
shreds, swept up by one of the hardworking airport maintenance people,
and I will be left at the gate. Now that, my dears, is a sad case of
nerves. Although I have never really experienced it, nerves can
breakdown. Nerves can be exceedingly devious and untrustworthy. It is
so easy to work up a case of the monkey nerves over something that
doesn’t warrant so much energy. In short, nerves are tricky and need to
be watched closely.
When we are about to embark on a
new adventure, we say we are nervous, meaning that our nerves are
creating high levels of anxiety. So we look for ways to calm our
nerves. Prayer is a good thing to have in your nerve utility built, so
is some form of distraction, which, to be honest, is why I am writing
this article while waiting to board the plane. Yes, I am nervous, I
don’t fly well.
And as I look around at the
others waiting to board, not a single one of them appears to be as
nervous as me. The flight attendants just went down the gangplank; one
had mean eyes. Now I’m even more nervous. I see two people in
wheelchairs—they make me nervous, not sure why, but they do—others are
reading like this is the best place next to the French Riviera. I
really want a cup of coffee, but I don’t dare add to what will only
make me more nervous. I can get coffee in Indy—I hope. If I ever make
I see men and women milling
around outside on the tarmac. My bag is in one of those blue pods. I’m
nervous it won’t get to Indy until next Wednesday, and then I will be
forced to wear the same clothes for days and won’t be able to brush my
Now I am on the airplane,
watching the passengers board. The full flight makes me nervous. Maybe
the plane will be too heavy. All passengers have the same looks on
their faces—nerves? Disgust? I don’t know.
must power down my electronics for takeoff, so I will continue in a
Okay, I’m back. A few minutes
after I powered down my electronics, the captain informed us that we
were number fourteen in line for takeoff. He claimed it would be about
fifteen minutes. It felt more like an hour, but we finally took off and
that made me even more nervous because I have to make a connecting
flight at Chicago Midway. I was concerned I would miss it until the
flight attendant reminded me of the time difference. Thank goodness for
A man sitting next to me kept
sneezing. It made me nervous. I don’t want to get sick. Then there was
a man standing in the aisle right next to me. He was waiting to use the
bathroom. He made me nervous. Planes don’t give you much in the way of
personal space and this dude definitely crammed my personal space.
Bathroom Man finally made it to the lavatory, and from the look on his
face I’d say none too soon.
the flight turned scary.
Somewhere over western Pennsylvania, we flew into a storm. I don’t like
shaking airplanes. Planes should not shake. At one point we hit a sink
hole and I grabbed on to the poor man next me. Needless to say, I was
quite happy when we landed. What an awful flight. I was seeing
pictures of myself and my children pass by like in the tornado in the Wizard
of Oz. I wrote out my last will and testament and promised
God if He’d get me to Chicago I’d never curse again. That’s right,
Chicago. I still have to get on another plane to Indianapolis. This is
cruel punishment for us nervous folk. I keep trying to tell myself I’ll
be there soon, see good friends, make new friends. But a smoother
flight would have been nice.
So here I am on the second
flight of the day. So far this one is much smoother. No delay. The
captain says it’s a twenty-eight-minute flight. Seems hardly worth it
to me to have even stopped at Midway. Sheesh, we had to over-shoot
Indianapolis by 168 miles to get there. This does not seem like good
panning, but what do I know? I’m just a dumb author.
And speaking of being an author,
what takes huge amounts of nerve, more nerves than cramming your body
and your luggage into a narrow metal sarcophagus and soaring thousands
of feet in the air? Writing—becoming an author. You really have to have
some nerve to decide to put word after word on paper and tell a story
that people—strangers who don’t love you or know you will want to read.
Publishing is such a tenuous, scary business, yet we love it. We keep
writing in spite of our nerves, in spite of the voices inside our heads
telling us to step away from the computer and run as fast as we can to
the nearest MBA program and get a real job.
But we don’t. We wrestle our
nerves into submission and write. We have to. This is especially true
when a looming deadline hangs over you like some dark phantom nightmare
with claws and snaggly teeth. Take it from me, writing on deadline
leaves no time to molly coddle our sensitive nervous systems. Writers
train themselves to put seat in chair and get it done. I suggest
writers hang a sign over their workspaces: NO NERVES ALLOWED. Yeah,
that will work. But like I’ve been telling myself all morning, “I can
do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Fly, meet my
deadlines, and even have the nerve to say I can write another book.
Sheeseh. Writers have a lot of nerve.
Prayers of Agnes
Sparrow has been selected as one of the top five Christian
Inspirational titles of 2009 by Library Journal.