Tricia Lott Williford

When Tricia Lott Williford suddenly found herself to be a thirty-one-year-old widow with two preschoolers to raise on her own, the blog she had been writing for several years became her lifeline and her readership grew dramatically and went worldwide.  She is a highly sought-after speaker for events, conferences, and retreats across the country.

She has published three books:

  • And Life Comes Back: A Wife’s Story of Love, Loss, and Hope Reclaimed (an ECPA finalist for the 2015 Christian Book Award in the New Author category) (Waterbrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2014)
  • Let’s Pretend We’re Normal: Adventures in Rediscovering How to be a Family (Waterbrook, animprint of Penguin Random House, 2015)
  • You Can Do This: Seizing the Confidence God Offers (Navpress, 2017)

Video credit: Merge Media, LLC.

Thanks a lot, Eve.

I know Eve’s story. So do you. She’s the reason we have mosquito bites and skin cancer and miscarriages and adultery. She ate the apple, and everything we’ve never known fell to pieces. Thanks a lot, Eve. We know you and your story.

But I read her story today and discovered something new. I love when that happens.

I noticed for the first time the tactic Satan used to deceive her. He said, “You won’t die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5, NLT).

Who doesn’t want to be like God? Isn’t that the sole purpose of humanity, the goal of our entire human existence, to become more like God? But Satan misled her with the wrong way to become like him. He convinced her that he way to do it was to become her own authority, to become her own god.

To become like God isn’t the same as trying to become God.

She decided—for herself—what she believed to be best—for herself. I think maybe her motivation started with really wanting to be more like God, to know what he knows, to identify the difference between good and evil. And Satan led her to believe that there was another way to do it. He presented to her a worthy goal, and then he showed her the wrong way to achieve it.

Eve didn’t set out to do the wrong thing. But the next verse says, “And the woman was convinced.”

Well played, crafty serpent. Well played.

To become like God is to reflect his characteristics and to submit to his authority. The thing about God is that he’ll never contradict himself; he’ll never ask us to become more like him by actually disobeying him. We often have a worthy goal, but we get after it the wrong way—with control, manipulation, selfishness, and a quiet, passive, well-meaning rebellion.

I’m reminded of when my children partner with me for some task at hand, and we all start on the same page. But then, quite inevitably, they become insistent that they know a better way, and even as they are disobeying me, their defense is, “But Mom! I’m only trying to help you!” And my standard go-to response is, “Guys, ‘helping’ means ‘following directions.’ If you’re not following directions, it’s not helping me.”

How often I have operated in my own best interests, certain I knew a better way, certain I was simply and truly helping God out with the great story he’s writing. Ah, but Tricia, “helping” means “following directions.”

Our sins don’t always appear ugly to us. They can seem good, pleasant, and even desirable—just as the knowledge of good and evil seemed harmless to Eve. How I hate the pleasant sins… they’re the hardest to avoid.

Eve didn’t understand the reason for the rule, and so she felt she was above it. She didn’t know the reason behind the command, so she acted in a way that made more sense to her. She forgot, as I often do, that all of God’s commands are for our own good. The rules still apply—even if you don’t know why.

Here’s the other thing I noticed about Eve during this visit to her famous chapter: she was impulsive. She looked, she took, and she ate. She didn’t talk to her husband, and she didn’t talk to God. I read that and I heard my own inner alarms going off. Because here’s a brutal truth I’ve learned the hard way: if I don’t want to talk to Peter about the decision before me, if I don’t want to pray about it, and if I want to act quickly before somebody can talk me out of it, then I’m usually on a direct path to regret and mistakes with a fierce ripple effect.

I know Eve and her story because she is me and my story. She is us and our stories.

  • You may have a worthy goal. But going about it the wrong way makes it a completely wrong decision.
  • God is for you. If he asks you not to do something, there’s a reason—even if you can’t see why. People who trust God will obey simply because he asks them to. The rules still apply, even if you don’t know why.
  • Partner with people whom you trust. Talk to them before you jump off the cliff. If you’re trying to move fast before anyone can stop you, that might be the strongest indication that it’s time to slow down and ask for input.

Thanks, Eve.

Actually, thanks a lot.

I learned from you today.

Why I’m Not Quitting Facebook

Word on the street is that a lot of people are “giving up Facebook” for their New Year’s Resolution.

“Facebook is a vast, vortex-like, waste of time.”
“Facebook is an addiction.”
“Facebook is a community of voyeurism.”

Sure.  It can be.  So can anything else in the entire world.

But I beg to differ, and I believe I will stand on this soapbox for the rest of my days.

Facebook is a platform for action, change, news, and community.

When crisis struck my family, thousands of people knew – and dove in to help, serve, pray, and encourage – in a matter of hours.  It was a humbling, gracious, overwhelming, and loving response.  I will never forget it.

In the same way, a person in my extended family was in a house fire recently.  She lost everything she owned, including her beloved pets, and she is hospitalized for the next many weeks while specialists treat the burns on her feet and in her lungs.  In the meantime, Facebook is in action.  Friends of friends of friends are collaborating to donate the necessities – and even some luxuries – of what it takes to rebuild a home, and a life.

As we speak, I belong to a growing campaign of people across the world who are joining together to help a beloved family with mounting medical expenses.  In 24 hours, 400+ people committed to give from their resources, and the numbers grow.

Plus, at any given point, I can reach out and contact a person from my high school marching band, my college dorm, the neighborhood of my first home, my former students – dozens of children who can read because I taught them, the friend with whom I rollerskated after school and traded Babysitter’s Club Books, friends from every city I’ve lived in, and authors whose work I covet, collect and study.

Don’t tell me it’s a waste of time.
Don’t tell me my generation is a lost community that’s tied to texting and virtual communication, which you may consider a poor substitute.
Don’t tell me we are detached.

Sign on to FB.  Several hundred people would like to tell you happy birthday, read the book you recommend, and join the cause you stand behind.  And just think of all you can learn from them.

Facebook, I tip my virtual hat to you.

The Art of Tricking Yourself

I taught a class of artists recently, and a poetry student asked me this question afterward.

“And so what do you do on those days of self doubt? When you don’t have anything to write about, and you think you’re a failure at this whole thing?”

Oh, you mean, how do I begin my every morning of my writing life??

I give myself grace. I’m careful about what I tell myself.

I don’t say, “I’m a failure at this. Who am I kidding? I have no idea what I’m doing. Somebody’s going to blow the whistle on this fraud at any moment, and all measures of book contracts will be thrown out the window.”

I don’t say, “Whatever, Trish. Stop writing. Nobody cares what you think anyway.”

But I have to replace those words with something else, or those thoughts win. So instead, I say, “Not a whole lot of words are coming my way right now. Maybe I’ll read a book until the words find me. Hey, it’s okay. It’s a slow writing day. I’ll write about what it feels like to have nothing to say.”

And I write.

“But what do you do when you can’t write? When you really have nothing to say?”

Nothing is more suffocating than straining to create. So when I’ve got nothing to make, I step away from the process. I step away, and I live for a little while. Art is born of life; life is born of art. They cannot exist without each other. So, if my artistic well is running dry, then it’s time to give it some new experiences.  Go live a bit. Then write about it.

“And what do you do when you really think you don’t have any right to call yourself an artist?”

Well, see, the thing is?  You can trick yourself into believing you are one.  When people ask what you do?  Say, “I’m a writer.”  Or poet.  Or singer/songwriter.  Or philosopher.  Claim it.  And before you know it, you’ll start to believe it.

Write it down somewhere.  Start to say it.  And you’ll start to believe it.

The Butterfly Effect

“An intriguing entomological experiment shows that a male butterfly will ignore a living female butterfly of his own species in favor of a painted cardboard one,
if the cardboard one is big.
Nearby, the real, living female butterfly opens and closes her wings in vain.”
~ Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Today, keep an eye on the subtle, quieter things that are the most real.

Not just the things that are bigger, flashier, splashier than you are.

The real things are nearby, stretching their wings, waiting for you to notice.