The Book

As per usual, I couldn't take a glamorous picture because I have a very crappy phone (which blesses me and allows me to feel smug and superior, but is annoying on the whole instagram level).

As per usual, I couldn’t take a glamorous picture because I have a very crappy phone (which blesses me and allows me to feel smug and superior, but is annoying on the whole instagram level).

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a hard spring and summer, harder than I care to admit; now that everything is better I realize what level of stress and sadness I was operating under. Coming out of a winter where it was colder than mars, we ran headlong into a season of chaos and being crushed under the burdens of trying to neighbor well in intense situations. I thought I became allergic to something, found my throat closing up, started gasping for breath at the most inopportune times. I went to the doctor and had them stick all the needles in my back, but it came back negative. The doctor gently told me that there was no biological evidence that I was allergic to anything. You might want to consider panic attacks, he told me, and I instantly felt foolish. I didn’t know that was what they felt like–I assumed shaking and jittering and crying. Not wanting to drive or talk on the phone of feeling like your throat was closing in on you–this was just my new normal.

Now I breath clear and fine, I have forged through rough relationships and came out tender and new on the other side: what lesson better than forgiveness can we ever take to our graves? It is truly a mystery, finding yourself rock solid in selfishness, having the Spirit crack you wide open, deciding that you are the worst and everyone is the worst and why don’t we all consider the lilies together? Because there really are some lovely ones in my neighborhood.

This summer I went back to Oregon for a visit, the place of my family and my people and so many of my threshold experiences. I visited with the Somali refugee family that changed my life, nearly a decade ago now. The girls are tall and tower over me, high schoolers who take inordinate amounts of selfies, giggling into laptops, cooking the evening meal. I wrote a book, I told them, feeling more than a little nervous. They were non-plussed. Oh yeah? I thought you liked to write or something. I pushed ahead. The book has a lot to do with you guys. They look at me, but don’t say anything. You know, how you guys changed my life. How you taught me so much about God, about what it is like to be a refugee, what America looks like to you . . . I trailed off. I suppose I was looking for their approval. They shrug their shoulders and look back at their screens. Yeah, you did learn a lot from us, both of them say. This has been apparent to them since day one. They are bored of this conversation, and pull out a baseball cap that is completely covered in large gold studs, the bling just dripping off of it. Want to take your picture wearing this hat? they ask, and of course I say yes.

 

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Very few people I see everyday care about books. They do not read the magazines I read, they do not adore the same authors, they do not understand the intricacies of industry and marketing and platform, the great big desire to be noticed, to be new, to be good, to be admired. They do not understand how people who publish books can sometimes become giant cardboard cut-outs of themselves. They do not know how easy it is to fall into those categories, to wander in the way of self-righteousness, irony, elitism, hubris, or easy breezy moralism. Most of the people I hang out with are refugees, many of them non-literate, the majority of them all carving out lives in the hard stone of the American Dream. The other person I hang out with is 4, and she is a wormhole of ferocious need, an excellent advocate for herself, a barreling ball of kingdom values (truthfulness, faith, love), and she most emphatically does not like anything that takes my attention away from her.

It is good to be small, good to have more than a handful of identities (wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, teammate, teacher, advocate) that vie for your attention, split you up and keep you on the ground. For awhile I looked in despair at the discrepancies of my life: living and working within one population (people experiencing poverty in America) while writing for another (mainly Christians who come from somewhat privileged backgrounds). But now it starts to seem like a gift, an authentic whole, a way to beat back the sin of pride (which comes at me from every direction). To be small, everywhere. Living in the upside-down kingdom, and writing about it. To try and be honest, to be vulnerable, to open yourself up for the inevitable misunderstandings and criticisms, to forge on ahead and practice forgiving and being forgiven. What lesson better than forgiveness can we ever take to our graves?

 

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I was born a reader and fed by a mother who let me be interested in the world, by small-town libraries, by a quest to know truth. But I did not start writing (beyond the college paper or a re-cap of a missions trip) until a few years ago. I now pinpoint the shift to when I had my daughter. I was made small and still by that experience. I had many more hours to contemplate (feeding and rocking and jiggling the baby), and it seems to me writing happens in your head when you give yourself some space to think. So I wrote a few things and sent them off, was legitimized by places I adored and read religiously. And I was surprised to find that the element underlying my new obsession with writing my own words was this: I finally wanted to be as honest as I could. And the only way I could be honest with myself is if I wrote it down.

And in the past 3+ years, that is what I have been doing. Eventually I realized I had written a book. It took me a long way to get to the place of saying I am ready for people to read that book, but here I am. I am over the moon. I am entering into this new part of life, this plan I never expected for myself. I just signed a contract with HarperOne (such a dream choice!) and I am excited for the expertise and the bridge-crossing that this particular publishing house is capable of. I’ll be sure and give you all the particulars as I come to understand them, but for now I just wanted to say thank you. It’s been a hard season, it has been one that has changed me. I am still coming to terms with all of my different selves, especially the ones that I never lived up to. When I started writing, I was finally able to be honest with myself and with God. And it became my way of considering the lilies–especially the ones that the world forgot. When I started writing, I started to finally start being able to understand the radical nature of honest in relationship to reconciliation and forgiveness. And I know I will have to keep re-learning it until I can learn no more.

I guess I just want to say thank you to everyone: thank you so much for reading along with me, for encouraging me and praying and being the cup of cold water that I generally always seem to need. But most of all, thank you for letting me write it out as I need to. It means more to me than you can possibly know.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “The Book

  1. wee frizz says:

    love this news, and this post

  2. You are enough. You are not too much. You are enough. Deepest congratulations on this book that changed you, that I am sure will change me, may it change the world.

  3. Leigh Kramer says:

    I cannot wait to read it, Danielle! Proud of you and the good work you’ve done.

  4. Ed Cyzewski says:

    This is amazing. I am so delighted for you and can’t wait to read this book.

  5. Christie says:

    You and HarperOne – such a great fit. I can’t wait to read your book, and I am so, so pleased for you.

  6. Cindy Brandt says:

    Congratulations – I love your writing and can’t wait to read the book!

  7. Staci says:

    Yes and yes. May the works of your hands be blessed.

  8. Can’t wait to read it! Is it horribly inappropriate to say hurry it up? I want to read it!

  9. Earl Taylor says:

    I felt your words as you described other’s reaction to you writing a book; I recently completed my first book; others are not so enamored or interested in hearing about it as I am as excited about talking about it- but the newness has faded and the Amazon orders trickle in a few dollars at a time- it will take some time I guess for others to realize my brilliance and insight! :)) Be ALL You Could Be… – Kindle edition by Earl Taylor. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

    Be ALL You Could Be… – Kindle edition by Earl Taylor. … Be ALL You Could Be… – Kindle edition by Earl Taylor. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note… View on http://www.amazon.com Preview by Yahoo

    I appreciate your words; but living in the country in Iowa, I lack understanding of urban culture (I just experienced it while visiting my daughter for 2 weeks in Paris). Stay focused on your cause and never give up!

    Blessings to you,

    Earl Taylor, Director of Design and Vision Hidden Acres Christian Center: http://www.hacamps.org/ 515-357-0861 – cell 515-547-2751 – office Providing vision, motivating people and creating systems!

  10. I am delighted by this. Not least because the publisher will be able to distribute in Europe and I can foist your book on friends as birthday and Christmas gifts for years to come!

  11. I can’t wait to read your book either, and if it’s anything like this post, it’s going to be a beautiful and soul-stirring thing.

  12. Liza says:

    You absolutely wonderful and marvelous woman! I am THRILLED for you. Hot dang! Seriously. Wow!!!!! I’m so glad that HarperOne recognized a beautifully written word! I’m so glad that you decided to write! I’m so glad hat I get to read what you’ve written. You are going to be so terrific because you can actually WRITE and you don’t reply on that gimmicky language crap that I hate. I am totally rejoicing with you, lovely DL Mayfield! I think this means I’ll get to be your life long reader, right? And sorry to hear about the panic stuff. It has stalked my family for generations. Thank goodness there are good treatments now. Oh, and smart phones…they really are all they’re cracked up to be:)

  13. Congratulations! I’m so excited for you! And for your readers 🙂

  14. Becca says:

    yay! 🙂 can’t wait to read it!

  15. R.O. says:

    Congratulations! Your writing has been such an encouragement to me. I love your line in this piece about learning the connection between honesty and reconciliation– a deep truth and one that your writing has encouraged me to keep pursuing in my own life. Thank you! The news of a book by DL Mayfield is good news for us all!

  16. Debbie says:

    So excited for the book!

  17. Meghan Hers says:

    Thank YOU for writing this post, for this blog, for all the ways that it consistently makes me feel less alone in what I’m doing. I cannot wait for your book, and will be advocating that everyone in Hamilton who is trying to do what we’re doing reads it 🙂

  18. […] turn blessedly upside down. It does not surprise me at all that she just signed with HarperOne to publish her first book. Congratulations, D.L. I’m so thankful I can share your bracing words about Scripture here […]

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