Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Some people call it writer’s block, but for me,  it’s more like malaise. I looked it up: “a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.” I’ve had it for the last month (or more) and I have put less than 500 words (or prayers) to page. This is not good. I need to get back on some solid ground.

Psalm 40:2
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Here’s a bit of confession: I haven’t felt like writing. It’s a grievous mistake, I know, because writing (like prayer) cannot be done out of feelings alone. It’s a discipline. A persistence. A slogging-on despite the circumstances. My favorite metaphor for endurance and doggedness leaps up: the tortoise of Tortoise & Hare fame. But you see, I have given way to the Hare again, round and round and round I go, no closer to the finish line, and off the path.

Another confession: if I am not writing, you can assume I’m not praying. The two have gone hand in hand for the last several  years and apparently, the Muse has departed, the Spirit hides behind a cloud, and the galloping horse of time has whipped through my apparently delicate balance of personal retreat with both God and Muse and daily life.

It’s not that daily life is a bad thing. I’ve had an amazing number of experiences and involvements over the past six weeks, from travel to Europe to visit extended family to my Navy son visiting for two weeks and second trip out west. Each agenda was full of laughter and joy and healing. I was much blessed. But. . . I took no time alone. Each day I hit the ground running and every minute was loaded. And really, that’s not so bad in itself. I know. But, once I returned to the days and minutes of normalcy and anticipated routine, I had no anchored place or time. I no longer retreated to my favorite chair (or if I did, I woke up an hour later) and I no longer had a plan for study since I just completed my New Testament journey of echoes, prayers, and meditations. Everything has come to a point all at once and, since my way is unclear, I am still standing at a crossroads of sorts. Where do I go from here?

And the worst of it all? When I stop doing something, I tend to forget how to do it. This is most clearly illustrated in a foreign language. Use it or lose it.

To get good at writing, one must write; and to get good at prayer, one must pray. No other way.

I am amazed how easily and quickly I lost my routine of prayer and writing. In the past, I had conquered malaise by keeping track of my time. I know that sounds anal, but it worked! Each time the inner voice of condemnation would attack me because I missed a day or two of prayerful meditation and study, I had facts to shore me up. Sure, I missed a day, but in a year, I’ve gotten it right over 70 or 80 or even 90% of those 365 days. So, “evil voice,” back off! I’m ok.

That pattern  has worked for the last five years.

And in the writing department, I became a great fan of Anne Lamott and her book, Bird by Bird, who encouraged me to start writing, 300 words a day, every day! And I did. I even completed a manuscript that way. But then, the next step was editing and cutting and slashing and changing and re-writing and soon, 300 words could no longer be used as a measure. I faltered. I am once again unsure, beleaguered by another voice or worse, silence. I tried to give myself a little credit, after all, I was still blogging. At least, I was. I did.

Breathe. I gotta breathe here.

Scratchboard by Michael Halbert

Today, a holiday, I woke with the determination that I would count it a victory day over lassitude and melancholy. I would pray. I would write. I would tend to my inner self. So, how did that go: I slept more than anything else with books on my lap and pen falling to the floor, tea growing cold. I lost four hours of my day to malaise, true malaise. Shortly, I must go to the grocery store for dinner. The day is flying by.

And yet, I do have this to show myself. I am sitting here right now. I made it this far. I crept over the edge. And tomorrow, hopefully, I will make the next step.

It’s time to choose. A way.

Read Full Post »

I know I can be a bull in a china shop with my voice. Sometimes I don’t think things through before I say them. In fact, I’m known for speaking just to hear what I’m thinking! It’s not always well-formed. It’s one of the reasons I blog. . .

II Corinthians 4:13
Yet we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, I have believed, and therefore have I spoken [Psalm 116:10]. We too believe, and therefore we speak, . . .
[Amplified]

Writing slows me down (a little) and it gives me a chance to contemplate more thoroughly the verses for the day. It gives me a chance to look for truths in the Word for me. Writing helps me articulate my faith more clearly and ask deeper questions of myself and others.

My faith has grown in many directions, not just wider and longer but deeper. And with that growth has come challenges and changes.

I find myself embracing the simplicity of the message: Love God, Love others. There is much more wiggle room than there used to be. There are gray areas after all. There is acceptance of the mystery and the paradox. There is a willingness to say, “I don’t know.” There is more tolerance for other lifestyles and mistakes. There is greater hope in the ultimate power of God.

Our world is very complex. It’s not the same world of the disciples. It’s much more expansive. We are aware of the tiniest changes across continents and space. We can know and communicate with thousands and millions of people in an instant. We hear of good and evil proliferating around the earth and beyond. Sin and disease abound. Fear builds exponentially. Death is proud.

And yet, it’s still the same message that will stand the test of time: Love God, Love others.

This is what I believe. This is what I am doing here.

My writing comes out of my faith. God is sovereign. Christ is real. And what I am living and learning along the way may help someone else discover the kingdom within.

After all these years, my personal mission still resonates for me: To inspire meaningful change, to build faith in God and to connect people with resources that make a difference in their lives.

Read Full Post »

Whether it’s speaking, writing, or teaching a class, it’s critical to do so authentically and to check in with the listeners, the readers, the students. Are they getting it? Are we having a conversation? It’s one reason I’ve grown tired of traditional church services: too lopsided. I need dialogue.

I Corinthians 14:11
If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.

I think it’s one of the reasons blogs, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc. are so popular. People write/talk and someone responds or leaves a comment. It’s like saying, “I hear you. I’m listening.” In some churches, this is accomplished by listener responses: “Amen” and the like, but it’s a primitive exchange. People write books and yes, we assume they love the process, but the real joy is in knowing the books are being read.

Another element is intent. Why does anyone write about God or Christ or faith (or anything else for that matter)? Why do we speak or teach? I’ve always struggled a bit with this question? I mean, there has to be a certain confidence that I have something to say. What is the balance between humility and spunk?

Teaching requires a class. Performing requires an audience. Writing requires readers. We’re back to the old Zen question, “Does a tree make a sound when it falls in the woods if no one hears it?”

Paul writes in verse 6b, “. . . what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?” What we say, what we teach, what we write, are the answers, hopefully, to the burning questions in the hearts of the people with whom we want to connect.

Mike and I encountered our favorite pastor some twenty years ago. His sermons were generally compelling but the times we liked best were Sunday nights and Wednesday nights when we could ask our questions, lots and lots of questions. We challenged him and he challenged us. The dialogue was alive and vibrant and unassuming. This was our time of greatest growth and learning.

Was it only because we were younger in our faith or was it the conversation?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: