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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Chasing Squirrels

I am not a person who enjoys uncertainty. In middle school, when my English teacher assigned us an essay with no page length-, margin-, or font requirements, I was that kid who kept saying, “Yes, but how long should it be?”

I recently attended a ladies’ event at my church. There was socializing, singing, desserts, and a guest speaker named Ashley Larkin, who had us fill out a worksheet about how we operate when we lose sight of God. One of the items was how we distract ourselves. I wrote: YouTube videos, being busy, Facebook, Sudoku. And that’s just the start.

I’m pretty good at distracting myself. When I contemplated writing this post, for instance, I suddenly got the urge to play a computer game. Thankfully, God tapped me on the shoulder a few minutes in and pointed out what I was doing.

I don’t know that I lose sight of God so much as I avoid him. He’s right there – I know it, and I can see him just fine, thanks. He’s been making himself quite conspicuous, really. I can also see the spotlight shining on that thing he wants me to do. But I can think of about five million other things I could do between here and there; I’m pretty much the guy who said, “Suffer me first to go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59 KJV).

It’s not that I don’t know what’s expected of me, in a general sense. But I don’t know the particulars of what, and I certainly don’t know the how. To a certain extent, I’ve been wrestling with this self-inflicted tension since God first called me to write in 2013, but it’s been a huge part of my life in 2016.

This is where Ginny Owens comes in.

For the uninitiated, Ginny Owens is a Christian singer/songwriter. I've been listening to her music since 2005, but it was just a few months ago that I went to her website for the first time. I ended up getting into her blog, which is really good. This week, she posted a gem (which explains the title of my post) about how she overcomes distractions in her life. She ends by inviting readers to share their own “creative ways to conquer distraction.”

Cue conviction - I don't have any methods for conquering distraction.

When I first came to terms with my calling, I was very motivated. My life had quite a bit of structure in it, due to a full-time job, so I just started doing the writing in the evenings after work, and with a great deal of discipline. Even after I left my job to pursue writing more seriously, I remained pretty on-task until I finally self-published my poetry book, To Do This Right. That was a huge goal I’d been working toward for over a year, but once I had accomplished it, I didn’t know what to do next. So I sort of didn’t do anything.

That’s an uncomfortable state to be living in, and I’ve been there for a year and a half. But I've finally set off for that spotlight and the thing it's illuminating; I still don't know how to get there or what I'll find, but I'm going.

Back to that ladies’ event at church: I happened to start writing a poem that night, before I even knew what Ashley would be speaking about. I got two stanzas down, and I’ve been working on it here and there in the intervening days. I finally finished it as I wrote this blog. It starts like this:

      I’ve been obsessed with the silliest dreams –
           the stupidest schemes
           the most harmful things.

So you can see how it’s related. Perhaps I never would have been able to finish it if I hadn’t logged off my computer game and sat down to write this post:

      I’ve finally started to step out in blindness –
           the absence of silence
           reveals lovingkindess.

Here I go stumblin’…


I am not a person who enjoys uncertainty. In middle school, when my English teacher assigned us an essay with no page length-, margin-, or font requirements, I was that kid who kept saying, “Yes, but how long should it be?”

I recently attended a ladies’ event at my church. There was socializing, singing, desserts, and a guest speaker named Ashley Larkin, who had us fill out a worksheet about how we operate when we lose sight of God. One of the items was how we distract ourselves. I wrote: YouTube videos, being busy, Facebook, Sudoku. And that’s just the start.
I’m pretty good at distracting myself. When I contemplated writing this post, for instance, I suddenly got the urge to play a computer game. Thankfully, God tapped me on the shoulder a few minutes in and pointed out what I was doing.

I don’t know that I lose sight of God so much as I avoid him. He’s right there – I know it, and I can see him just fine, thanks. He’s been making himself quite conspicuous, really. I can also see the spotlight shining on that thing he wants me to do. But I can think of about five million other things I could do between here and there; I’m pretty much the guy who said, “Suffer me first to go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59 KJV).
It’s not that I don’t know what’s expected of me, in a general sense. But I don’t know the particulars of what, and I certainly don’t know the how. To a certain extent, I’ve been wrestling with this self-inflicted tension since God first called me to write in 2013, but it’s been a huge part of my life in 2016.
This is where Ginny Owens comes in.

For the uninitiated, Ginny Owens is a Christian singer/songwriter. I've been listening to her music since 2005, but it was just a few months ago that I went to her website for the first time. I ended up getting into her blog, which is really good. This week, she posted a gem (which explains the title of my post) about how she overcomes distractions in her life. She ends by inviting readers to share their own “creative ways to conquer distraction.”
Cue conviction - I don't have any methods for conquering distraction.

When I first came to terms with my calling, I was very motivated. My life had quite a bit of structure in it, due to a full-time job, so I just started doing the writing in the evenings after work, and with a great deal of discipline. Even after I left my job to pursue writing more seriously, I remained pretty on-task until I finally self-published my poetry book, To Do This Right. That was a huge goal I’d been working toward for over a year, but once I had accomplished it, I didn’t know what to do next. So I sort of didn’t do anything.
That’s an uncomfortable state to be living in, and I’ve been there for a year and a half. But I've finally set off for that spotlight and the thing it's illuminating; I still don't know how to get there or what I'll find, but I'm going.

Back to that ladies’ event at church: I happened to start writing a poem that night, before I even knew what Ashley would be speaking about. I got two stanzas down, and I’ve been working on it here and there in the intervening days. I finally finished it as I wrote this blog. It starts like this:
             I’ve been obsessed with the silliest dreams –
                       the stupidest schemes
                       the most harmful things.
So you can see how it’s related. Perhaps I never would have been able to finish it if I hadn’t logged off my computer game and sat down to write this post:
             I’ve finally started to step out in blindness –
                       the absence of silence
                       reveals lovingkindess.

Here I go stumblin’…


6 comments:

  1. I love your candidness. It is so easy to be taken in by the moment and get lost in our side paths that we lose sight of the road. When the future is obfuscated but the now clangs enticingly we often opt for the path of least resistance and find ourselves lost for a time. Glad to see your back on track.

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad to be back on track, too, even though I have no idea what that means in practical terms, lol.

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  2. That was both insightful and enjoyable to read, Rachel.

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  3. Oh, and I love the poem. More please.

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    Replies
    1. :) I actually just revised it yesterday. It starts the same but the ending is better (as is the in-between).

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