It’s official… I am writing again.
*tries not to panic*
That’s right, I’ve decided to get back into the habit of writing, and plan to share regularly along the way. I can’t give all of the details just yet – the whens and wheres and hows – because I’m really not sure that I know any more than just the bare bones details at this time. However, I am connected to the whys behind this adventure, and that’s really all that matters. I feel that squashing expectations and letting this evolve as I go could end up being a really beautiful thing; which means I’m totally okay with not having a plan.
To be honest, when I wrote that first statement of this first post (in my head, before I had the guts to sit myself down at the computer and actually start writing), it read more like this: I guess I’m writing again. So before I went any further I had a heart-to-heart with myself. “I guess” felt like a pre-planned cop-out, leaving room for myself to give up if two weeks, or two months, from now I had second thoughts about this. That’s just not an option, so I had to turn that hesitant sentence into a bold statement. “I guess” became “I am.” And now, no matter how badly I want to, there’s no turning back. I am writing again.
If you would have asked me about this recently, as several people did, I would have told you that I didn’t think writing would be any part of my near future. I reluctantly wrote for most of 2016, hiding away so many unfinished pieces, pieces that sounded (to me) like nails on a chalkboard. In the agony of trying to write about health and fitness (while pushing away what I felt truly inspired to write about), I developed a disdain for writing. I was also overcome by the general feeling that any natural talent I once had as a writer had surely disappeared and would not be found. Writing was a chore, I was not finding success, and it caused more stress and anxiety than joy. So at the start of 2017, I quit writing altogether. I was relieved.
Much to my surprise, just a few short months after quitting, I found myself experiencing little sparks of desire to get back to writing. As the desire started to grow, I felt a gentle nudge in my heart that was encouraging me to revamp my blog and start again. I wanted to write about passion, inspiration, and purpose. I felt a calling to share about my struggles with finding these things in everyday life, to tell my story of how I was seeking out God’s plan for my time here on earth. I wanted to share about eliminating the unnecessary stuff in my life and finding simplicity, about letting go of obligations and things that didn’t serve me, and how in undergoing that process I began to find more meaning and more love for others and more space to live joyfully. But I was unsure — was this really what I was being asked to do? Even more than that, I was afraid. My fear and self-doubt continually reminded me that “everyone” has a blog and “everyone” is trying to be a writer and ”everyone” has already said ”everything” I might ever want to say — making me even more afraid than I was to begin with. The most random people would come to mind and I would think, What will they think of me if I start writing and sharing and posting it on the internet? They’ll definitely think I’m crazy and my family will be so embarrassed! And while I don’t think for one second that my family would be embarrassed of something I was feeling called to do, that fear was real and it was paralyzing. So I sat on the idea of writing again, thinking and pondering and planning into action-less oblivion, until that nudge in my heart and the desire to write faded away completely. I gave myself a million justifications for why I knew I had done the right thing by not following through with that idea, and overall I felt content.
Over time, it became clear that I wasn’t actually content. As the summer passed and fall came and went, I felt restless. I had the question What do you want me to do with my life? on repeat when talking to God. I read what felt like a thousand articles on finding purpose in your life, on finding work you love, and on how to make the most of each day as you search for your life’s calling. I participated in a life group with some members of my church in which we discussed these same topics. I read a book called Chazown, a book written to help Christians find God’s vision for their lives. (Which you can find here, if you’re interested.) And although I was able to stay aware of the fact that I could still live my best and be my best while waiting for more clarity and direction, that didn’t cure the sense of restlessness I felt deep inside.
At some point, in the midst of all of this unsettledness, I thought back to some of the dreams I had for my life over the last couple of years. Writing came to mind several times (truthfully, I shuddered every time), but I kept letting it go. As I half-listened to a podcast one day while doing work around the house, I heard a pastor say something to her audience that caught my attention (although I didn’t put two and two together right at that moment): “If you are in a challenging season, or feel like you’ve been struggling for too long, make sure you are not being disobedient to something God has asked you to do.” Cue the Jonah and the Whale imagery — Jonah runs away from God’s instruction and finds himself in the belly of a whale, an obvious challenge (and a gross one, at that). Was I, metaphorically of course, in the belly of my own whale?
Ultimately, God didn’t use a loud, booming voice to tell me where I had tripped myself up. (That would have been much easier, I think.) Instead, gradual thoughts and quiet whispers and small feelings in my gut brought me back to April of this year and the realization that I had been given an instruction and failed to follow through. Step one had been right in front of me all along, waiting for me to put one foot in front of the other.
In all of my reading over the last few months, I’ve learned countless times about the cycle of action and how getting started and completing step one is how we discover step two and then step three and so on. In most aspects of life we don’t get the luxury of seeing every step of the journey ahead of time, knowing exactly what to expect as we move forward. Rather, we use our courage to take the first step, and in doing so, the second step appears. Or, in some cases, we take a few steps, at which point it becomes clear that we need to backtrack and take a different step. In either case, it’s the forward movement that brings the path into view.
Ironically (but not really), after making the decision to write again and starting this particular piece, I read the following about how God is often waiting on us:
“Many times we claim we’re waiting on Him, when He’s really waiting on us. Obedience allows God to move in our lives. Your action invokes His action. If you the do the “natural,” He’ll do the super. He’s not holding out on you — He’s waiting on you!” (Excerpt taken from The Spark to Start, by Chris Pace, which you can find here.)
Even more ironically (again, not really), in that same book I read the following:
“A sense of restlessness usually follows this type of ‘nudging’ and is only relieved once you carry out [God’s] prompting.”
And there it was, so clear and simple. One sentence to sum up a lesson that took me countless months, a lot of agony, and the 1,500 words I shared here to finally understand for myself. So with that said… yes, I am writing again.