Last week I lost track of the days and didn’t get September’s newsletter out on time. I’ve also been off-schedule a bit with posting here. I promised last week that I’d get out the September newsletter over the weekend. If you’re a subscriber, you’ll notice that didn’t happen. My heart hasn’t been in it to create. But I’m a writer. Creating with words is what I do. It’s how I contribute — why I’ve carved out this little area of the universe.
So, What’s Going On?
Like many fellow introverts, I internalize everything. To a fault. Often it’s quite useful when developing characters and plots for new stories or sorting out my feelings before talking to a friend or loved one. But just as often, internalizing my feelings allows them to rapidly grow out of control, like kudzu vines in the South. Before you know it, you’re overwhelmed and feeling trapped. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I was a child, and it most often creeps up on me when I’m extra busy or a lot is changing.
The last several weeks have certainly brought busyness and change. A move in early summer. Preparing for and attending the ACFW Conference — so great and full of “divine appointments,” but honestly really threw me out of my comfort zone more than I realized. There’s also figuring out a health issue I’m having, seeing my husband stressed at his job, working through the craziest time of the year at my day-job, and beginning a new school year for my daughter. Yea, lots going on.
Since returning from the ACFW Conference then immediately going in for a colonoscopy, all I’ve wanted to do is lay low. Understandable, I’m sure. But then, ever so slowly, the urge to hide has crept in. A palpable energy, not unlike anxiety but not exactly that, is present.
And all I want to do is be with my Jesus, who knows this feeling even when I can’t give it a name.
Feeling Broken & Useless
I’m always tempted to call this mood a rut. “I’m just in a rut,” I’ll tell my husband. Eventually, I’ll climb out and resume life as normal.
But being in a rut implies stagnancy. Inability to move forward/upward. Brokenness. Uselessness.
Yet, God has been whispering to me,
“That’s not what this is.”
I’ve sat in front of my laptop screen countless times over the last several days and watched the cursor call forth words that aren’t there. Obligation told me to come up with something, anything. Be productive. Don’t get off schedule with the blog, newsletter, social media posts, a new manuscript. Just get words on the page, anything. But I couldn’t.
Then the soft whisper inside my soul from a Father that knows better.
“It’s okay to just be with me.”
I was reminded this past Sunday in church of Psalm 139:
O Lord, you have searched me and know me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
God is acquainted with my ways because He made me. He knows I internalize everything. That’s where He’s come to find me. In my thoughts. Where I’m tied up and most involved. And so, that’s what I’ve been doing…just spending time with Him. In quiet. In confusion. In waiting. For His direction, wisdom, amazing love.
The other day I was sitting at my desk at work and pulled random change from my purse for a Diet Coke. Below is a photo of the coins I found. My first instinct was to put back the dirty, worn, and likely germ-ridden quarter and spend the shiny coins.
Then God’s soft whisper came again, saying
“Dirty money spends just the same.”
I immediately recognized I’ve been treating my worth the same way I looked at that quarter. Messy, worn out and tired, and covered in germy sin that deems me unworthy to be of value. God used that nasty quarter to remind me that my value is in Him and Him alone.
What if this rut is not writer’s block or a creative desert or a lack in confidence. These things come from the enemy.
What if, instead, this has been an invitation to be in community with God.
There’s no earthly metric for the successfullness of time spent with God. So, maybe hard for us humans to put as much value on it? We can’t quantify the priceless one-on-one time with God in units like word count, chapter length, miles ran, dollars given to the church, volunteer hours, books read, etc. I feel like God’s been trying to tell me that He can get more done with me, be more productive with my heart, during the time I give to Him. Whatever comes out of this time in community with God is of soul-importance. Mine, of course. But, just maybe, also of soul-importance for those who will one day be touched by my writing. If I’m not listening to God to put upon my heart the message he wants me to convey in my stories, then there’s a great chance it won’t work.
It’s hard to write a post that feels so me-centered. I don’t ever want to come across as self-serving on this blog. Maybe you can relate to this? Replace the concept above with your own circumstance.
Maybe my time in community with God is of soul-importance for me as well as for
those whom I teach…work with…parent…encounter on the Subway…serve…etc.
And Now What?
I believe God sometimes has to strip away the distractions to get our attention. The deadlines, the obligations, our own goals, and the comparisons to others that get in the way of seeing Him. Even though it’s been uncomfortable sitting in what I thought was a rut, I’m so thankful to have heard the small, still voice inviting me in.
I don’t know how long I’ll be here in this non-rut. For now, I’m going to pull back on my promises to you here on the blog. Instead of posting every Tuesday and Thursday, I’ll post when something is on my heart or there’s something fun to announce/report. I welcome guest posts and will still do book reports (as I have time to read!).
I will also get the September newsletter out soon, but the continued frequency of that is yet to be seen, too.
One thing I have begun to discern from my time in community with God is that He wants me to get back to a regular writing schedule on my books. Next week I’ll be sending out proposals for Someplace Familiar to a few interested agents/editors whom I met with at the ACFW Conference. Thanks to recent beta readers who’ve given helpful feedback! I’ll also start working regularly on book two.
If you’ve stuck with me and made it to the end of this post, thank you. Really. My prayer is two-fold today. One, offering thanksgiving for the people in my life (including you!) who allow me space to talk/write through my daily faith journey. Two, asking God to use my reflections here to deliver messages to readers who might need the encouragement, too.
Please feel free to comment below how you’re feeling about the “ruts” you find yourself in…maybe you’re in one right now.
Might you find God there?
Spending Dirty Money: A Lesson in Usefulness — TWEET THIS!
What if life’s ruts are really an invitation to be in community with God? — TWEET THIS!