Ever feel uninspired? Like you know your creative juices should be flowing but they just…aren’t? Some people call this writer’s block…other’s might call it a lack of motivation or inspiration. I think of staring at a blank canvas unsure of what to do with it. It’s not that you don’t have the tools, or the experience, or the skill. There’s just no ideas. No starting point. There’s just pieces and chaos and a need to put order to it. No formula or blueprint to fall back on. Just you and a brain full of…nothing.
That’s me right now. Only I’m not talking about painting. Or writing. Or music (well, maybe songwriting, but that’s another story). I’m talking about life. The future is the canvas. My skills and my experience are my paint and brushes. And one way or another, an image needs to form. But I am completely at a loss. I’ve found myself staring at the same canvas for weeks now and still no brushstrokes.
Just do something.
I’ve been holding onto a story, struggling with how to share it with you guys in a way that’s meaningful to YOU, not just me word-vomiting on a page. That’s hard, by the way. Our self-centered nature tends toward the latter. Maybe the cohesion won’t come until I’m on the other side of this thing, finally making up something resembling a clear picture of what’s to come next.
Some big changes are ahead in the new year. Changes I was hoping would not come for a long time (No, I’m not pregnant. So just get that out of your brains right now). A lot has already changed in 2017…we got married, the first grandchild on my husband’s side of the family was born…so come summer I thought to myself, I could do without some major life changes for awhile. As in, I would be really happy if things stayed the same for a bit.
Meanwhile God was up there laughing, saying “I’ve got other things in mind.” Like He does.
I’ve realized, though, He’s kinda been priming me for it. A few weeks prior to receiving word about some of the changes approaching, I wrote this poem (I guess…I don’t know if we should call it that) in my journal:
“Anxiety’s A Thief” – August 31st, 2017
I’d been busy ushering in a new day. Now it’s all I can do to delay the next new day from coming. Pulling in the future, but the momentum’s too much. I’m not enough. There’s not enough weight for me to slow that train down. It keeps on rolling, faster and faster, flying by faces I barely get the chance to gaze upon, study and memorize, be mesmerized. A blink and they’re gone. So I hold on tighter and tighter, forgetting why I’m here, forgetting how I got here. As if my grip has any control over the marionette strings that support me. The tension grows. More time, just a little more time…and it slips away again, burning my hands that held on so tightly, leaving scars that remind me: I gotta learn to let go. To surrender control to the One who made me…to be where I am and not fear what’s coming, when the winds might be changing, if my sails can keep sailing for as long as they need to get me home safely.
A week later Hurricane Irma hit.
And two weeks after that I was told I would no longer be employed at my church come 2018.
And now, almost two months later, I’m in a position that could be exciting for some…a lot of possibilities, the opportunity for something new, different, a chance to grow, etc, etc….
But I told you. Blank canvas. Writers block. I don’t feel free, I feel completely paralyzed. And I think I now know why:
“I’m not enough…I gotta learn to let go.”
I want SO BADLY to be everything that I need, everything that my husband needs, everything that my church needs. But I am insufficient without God’s power and strength captaining the ship. And honestly I’ve been treating Him like the first mate.
There’s a phrase I heard recently that is humbling me to the ground today: dependent resilience. These are two words that are, well, not my best things. I don’t really like depending on anyone. I wanna get my own ducks in a row and have a plan and take care of my own junk. I’ve somehow convinced myself that that’s just “easier.” Hah.
On the other end, I’m also working on my resilience. It’s been said that to work in ministry you kinda have to have thick skin. Oh how true I’ve found this to be over the last four years of being on church staff. I like to think I take criticism well but I often don’t. I definitely have thrown myself a little pity party or two. And when what I think I deserve or have earned isn’t what transpires, my immediate reactions are usually emotional, not always mature or rational.
So what is dependent resilience and why is it helpful in these days? Keep in mind I am literally asking myself these questions as I write this…these aren’t revelations I’ve figured out and now am able to put into words. Nope…y’all are on this journey with me in real time. Dependent resilience, as our pastor shared with us awhile back, is this recognition that things beyond our control ARE in the hands of Jesus, and our response to those things should come from a deep resting in HIS strength in us, not on our own. Not just physical, I don’t think, but emotional, mental, and spiritual strength as well. We can have tough skin because Christ provides us the resources for it, if we depend on Him and what he has already done to provide it.
So simple. Just rely on Jesus! That’s the answer!
I think that’s true and yet…a lot of times, we don’t. A lot of times, I don’t. Why? Why do we delay in crying out to Jesus for his strength and the ability to rest in His promises?
I can’t speak for everyone but I know for me, it’s because I’ve made it about me. What I want. What I think I deserve. My dreams. My plans. My comfort. My life. And the reality is, as our pastor said, “It’s likely not about you at all. It’s about trusting God.”
This whole situation with the elimination of my job at church has made me very me-focused. There’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle and I can only see some of them and come up with what I think the picture should have looked like. What I could have done differently. What other people could have done differently. I’ve asked a lot of questions that are really all asking the same thing: “How am I still not enough?”
Actually, there might be questions I still have that I may never really know the answer to. But there are still realities: January is fast-approaching. There’s a portion of our income that we need to make up for somehow. Eventually I need to just DO something. Go somewhere. Start something even if there’s not really a plan in place. But I feel paralyzed because I’m scared of making a mistake, of getting pulled away from the good things I’m already invested in, and/or putting myself in a position where I’m still not happy or fulfilled.
And again those words echo: “It’s likely not about you at all.”
I somehow have to convince my heart to align with what’s in my head: that none of this is about me, really. And it really is in the hands of Jesus. And what’s up ahead, if I trust in His strength and power, is better for me and for His glory than I ever could have asked or imagined. Immeasurably more (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Remember all that talk about Trust I’ve been sharing with you lately? I didn’t know at the time why God would have placed that theme in my heart…I thought maybe it was about a hurricane. I think now, though, it wasn’t about any earthly circumstances at all, though He is still bringing me through them.
It literally has always been, plain and simple, all about Him. He desires nothing from me except for my whole heart. He’s provided the resources to be dependently resilient through the storm, yes, but He has also provided the resources for freedom….freedom to just GO and DO and BE because I’m seeking after Him and not my own glory anymore.
Can someone please tell my heart this in a way that will make her grab on so tightly to that truth that she literally changes the way I see what’s in front of me??
To my small but mighty group of faithful readers, I am pleading with you to pray. Pray for my heart and my husband’s heart as we wrestle and make decisions in the next couple months. I believe in the power of community and prayer to strengthen our hearts and remind us of truth. So please be praying. Pray against idols of prosperity and self-glory that get in the way of us seeing Jesus and resting in Him for real. Pray for healing from any sort of emotional wounding and a heart free to go and do and be whatever God needs me to be, wherever He needs me to be. Pray for that dependent resilience in Him. Pray these things for yourselves in your own journeys. And tell me how I can be praying for you, if you’re so inclined.
These days are messy and uncertain. But I am grateful for a community that helps me remember the truth: that even in the mess, God sees. Even in the noise, God hears. Even in the changes, God is constant. Even in my sin, God loves. And the work is finished. And it is ALL for Him.
For God’s glory,
Just Do Something – Kevin DeYoung
Anchored: After – Pastor Worth Carson
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