About three weeks ago, I decided to give up on writing. Yep, that’s right. I made up my mind that this was too hard, that I wanted to do something more structured, something less dependent entirely on me. I quit; that’s it. I’m done. I’ll go work at a nonprofit and do real good. Ah, there, that’s it. No more writing for me.
I was heartbroken and disappointed in myself. For all of my life I had wanted to be one of two things (that is after the desire to be a bellydancer passed at age 5) – a writer and a writing teacher. Even when I briefly considered becoming a lawyer, it had everything to do with words and nothing to do with justice. I had always found myself in words, and now, I was going to have to find myself in something else.
But I was sticking to this decision. I was holding fast. I was tired, and I was going to move onto something new. Until I got completely bowled over by illness, heartbreak, and life in general. Then, I couldn’t really move at all. I retired to the couch and Doctor Who and, finally, to prayer.
The truth is that my problem was not writing but my own efforts at it. I was trying too hard. I know that sounds impossible for an American – a Protestant American at that. Our work ethic says we can never work too hard. But the truth is, I was. The problem wasn’t really the work, exactly, but that I was trying to do it all on my own. God literally knocked me off my feet to show me this wasn’t possible.
For the last three weeks, I have been learning to be more childlike in my dependency on God. For a long time, maybe my whole life, I have thought that striving was the way to get where I wanted to be. If I did more, wrote more, read more, I would end up in my dream life, whatever that was. The last few weeks have driven home what I have been shown for the last few years – striving will get me only part of the way, and when I arrive at this place that isn’t even where I want to be, I will be exhausted and joyless. Doesn’t sound like much fun. Doesn’t sound very Godly either.
You see, the problem with writing, for me, is that I feel like it’s all about me. I have to come up with the idea (I rarely get assignments), and that’s the hardest part. The research and writing – those I enjoy – but that coming up with something to write about, that’s the work of Sisyphus. I used to comment to a friend who is a guitarist that at least all he had to do was practice what someone else wrote. I had to write the thing to be able to write about it. . . .
But God has been teaching me to let go. I have been learning to let the ideas come to me instead of seeking them out. I am learning to wait and to rest while I do so. And while I rest and wait, my soul is restored. And I am ready to write again.
This morning, I read Shawn Smucker’s post about the heartbreak that he and his wife suffered when their business did not take them on the path of life that they had expected. As the empty moving truck stood in their driveway, bringing he and his wife grief, their two children jumped into the empty cargo bay and started making their own echoes. As Shawn said, “They had absolute trust that I would provide shelter for them, and food, and anything else that they needed.” I am learning that God, my heavenly father and mother, does the same for me.
Right now, I am in the middle of that big empty cargo bay of life. I have the things I have accumulated in boxes ready to go – teaching, my publications, my books – and I am ready for the next adventure. But for now, I’m leaving those things where they are and waiting for God to start up the truck. When that happens, I”ll load up and move out.
Meanwhile, I want to write again, and that is probably the greatest blessing of these days. Desire to be, again, who I am created to be. Now, I simply wait for the idea to be given to me, a gift from the God who loves me enough to not let me give up on myself.