As per the Tuesday usual, have I got a TREAT for you! If Emily Freeman’s not on your radar yet, you need to remedy that situation ASAP. She’s a writer’s writer, a guide and a teacher, and someone I’ve been paying attention to for awhile now. I’ve read a couple of her books and can’t wait to check out The Next Right Thing just as soon as I finish the current stack of books. Enjoy this interview with her!
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? I live in North Carolina with my husband, John, and our three teenagers. I went to school to be a sign language interpreter and I did that for several years. Now I’ve been writing books for about 10 years and secretly still can’t believe it’s my actual job. My favorite place to hang out is at the intersection of faith and creativity. Everything I write or speak about is to help create space for the soul to breathe so that readers (or listeners) can discern their next right thing in love.
I feel most alive when I’m teaching, speaking, or hosting podcast episodes but I feel most like myself when I’m writing.
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? The book is called The Next Right Thing and it’s about making decisions. It’s also about making a life.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? Just do the next right thing is not a phrase I came up with (incase that’s not painfully obvious). I’ve heard some version of it said by many others, including Anne Lamott, Elisabeth Elliot, Mother Theresa, The Big Book of AA, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Brennan Manning to name just a few.
It’s always been a phrase I’ve held onto.
Unmade decisions hold a lot of power. I noticed this several years ago when I had a big decision to make. My husband John often says he likes to “pay attention to what he pays attention to.”
That unmade decision I had hijacked every thought, prayer, and conversation until finally I started to pay attention, not only to the decision itself but also to my posture while trying to make it. I began to get curious about decision-making and how, in many ways, the decision is rarely the point. Instead, the point is the person I’m becoming in the process.
Long story short, I started a podcast called The Next Right Thing to process through some of the observations I was making about decision-making. And that podcast processing led to the book.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words, and also, how have you been changed by writing the book? On the most basic level, I hope the book will help people actually make better decisions. I wrote it to help walk the reader through a simple, soulful path for making decisions. On another level, I hope the book will help people begin to make decisions in a better way.
We oftentimes talk about “coloring outside the lines” on this blog: so, how do you hope your book will help readers color outside the lines?
Among people who struggle with making decisions (particularly Christians), the number one reason is this: they are afraid of making the wrong choice.
If you speak of desire? Look out. People get all worried that desire will lead them astray. And in some cases that’s true. But the question I hear repeated over and over again: How do I know if this is what I want or if it’s what God wants?
I think that’s a “staying in the lines” kind of question. To color outside the lines means to dare to believe that the Spirit of God lives within you and as you state your desire in his presence, he can be trusted to lead you, even through your own desire. That’s not to say we’ll always get what we want. But it is to say admitting what we want is important. It’s tempting to think desire is selfish, but we confuse admitting what we want with demanding what we want.
Jesus consistently asked people questions of desire and he wasn’t afraid of or ashamed of their answers. When it comes to making decisions, knowing what we actually want can be scary so we avoid facing it. But what you want is what you want, whether you admit it or not. If we refuse to acknowledge what we want, it will come out sideways through anger, anxiety, resentment, frustration, or any number of other ways we might not like.
Stating our desire in God’s presence is a powerful, important decision-making practice.
How and where can we find you on the Internet?
I know …are you not over-the-moon smitten with Emily like I am? Leave a comment below to win a copy of The Next Right Thing and be sure to check out Instagram in a couple of days for more chances to win. Contest ends Friday, May 3rd at noon – good luck!
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