I almost gave up on my latest book, Becoming Me. I began exploring the idea behind it in 2013, then wrote most of my original version during 2014. I sensed God was in the project and sent it off to my potential publisher in January 2015. Yet one key, nagging question remained. Should it really be published? It is a very personal book, after all—it contains many honest reflections on my own journey of discovering who God created me to be and of removing the layers covering my true self. Besides, I had already written six published novels and a memoir, Soul Friend. Should I call it a day?
I was also very tired, so decided to give myself a semi-sabbatical during 2015. At times, I tried to polish up Becoming Me, while waiting to hear from the publisher, but those nagging doubts remained. Had I heard God wrongly? Did I have the energy to see this project through?
Then, in January this year, my publisher suggested I remove the reflection questions from the end of each chapter, which necessitated other changes as well. I resubmitted, but to no avail. My book was simply not the type of non-fiction my publisher now produced—and I respected that.
So what to do? Should I consider self-publishing? For various reasons, I had always resisted this idea. Then, one Sunday morning in early May, three things happened in quick succession.
The first was a simple, mundane event—I picked up a nail file on my desk and, for the first time in months, noticed the image of a Russian babushka doll, so intrinsic to my story, on the end of it. A friend had given it to me, after she heard about the concept behind Becoming Me, as an encouragement and a reminder to complete the book.
We headed to church, where a young minister preached on knowing our identity in Christ. To my astonishment, he proceeded to elaborate on many key themes contained in my book. I sat bolt upright—it was as if an electric current was flowing through me. ‘All these themes are still so important’, I sensed God saying. ‘Put your book out there!’
I came home and discovered an email from a dear friend. She had felt prompted to share John 1:12 from ‘The Message’ with me. It read:
Whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, HE MADE TO BE THEIR TRUE SELVES, their child-of-God selves ...
She had capitalised the words ‘He made to be their true selves’—without knowing this was the main theme of my new book!
That week, I began to set in motion the whole self-publishing process, asking others to design the cover and complete the layout for me. And now, on 1st October, Becoming Me: Finding my true self in God will be released at last! Please check out my website for the special deal available until that date.
I am sharing this publication journey to encourage you all to stay the course and do your best to carry through with whatever project God has challenged you to undertake in your own life. Yes, sometimes we might have to put things aside. But maybe, just maybe, God wants us to persevere. God is so faithful—so it is up to us to be faithful too, don’t you think?
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.