So there I was, pacing the floor in the middle of the night, having a rather intense conversation with God.
You see, I was experiencing a bit of frustration. Surely, I thought, God would not have called me to write, and certainly not to leave my job to do so, unless he meant for me to actually write– to do something with it. Yet, despite my best efforts to figure out a way forward, and my not-quite-best efforts to “do the work,” progress was nonexistent.
I went to a conference once where the keynote speaker talked about failure, and how the only way we fail is if we don’t show up – our job is to write; the results are up to God. So what had happened? I’d shown up; I’d left my job, moved back to Oregon, self-published my poetry book, and attended writers’ conferences. I was doing my job, trying to write, but almost all of it was drivel, and not in a “you’re your own worst critic” sense. I know drivel when I read it.
It was drivel.
The day before the pacing incident, I’d made a solid attempt at two poems. They were horrible. But the next evening, I’d felt inspired. I was listening to Ginny Owens’ new album,** and I’d just gotten to the end of “The Fire.” I paused the music, picked up my pencil, and flipped open my notebook. I took a moment. I bent over the page. I began to write.
Drivel. I began to write drivel.
So you understand why I was frustrated. I mean, I’ve never been under any illusion that I’m as good a writer as Ginny Owens or Sara Groves, but it had never bothered me before. For the first time, I compared myself to them (with negativity).
To my credit, I almost immediately laughed at myself; clearly I needed to go back and re-listen to the title track of the album. I gave up the poem and went to bed. Where I proceeded to pace the floor in agitation.
I’ve noticed God tends to let me come to my wit’s end, then taps me on the shoulder and points out truth. I eventually went to bed, exhausted in body and spirit. The next day was a haze of sleep deprivation and “feeling down.” And then came Sunday.
It happened after church. I was listlessly scrolling through Facebook when I happened upon a blog post by For the Joy of It. On a complete whim, I followed the link to a post about people encouraging each other.
It just so happens that I had spent the previous two days debating whether I should send Ginny an email to let her know how much I thought of her new album (it’s stunning), but I kept telling myself, “Don’t bother her. She’s busy. You’re not a music critic. She doesn’t need your validation.” But after reading the blog, I immediately got on my email and sent her a note anyway. Sometime later, I got a reply, thanking me for my encouragement.
Tap, tap. Your place is backstage, behind the scenes, and your role is to encourage.
I don’t know how to convey to you how mind-blowing this was. I hadn’t even realized I’d been trying to push my way to center stage, thinking that was where I was supposed to be. And the beauty of it? I don’t even want to be center stage! I like behind the scenes. And guess what?! When I was in the Navigators in college, our leader had me do this spiritual gifts survey, and one of my top scores was encouragement. I had said, out loud, to other people, over many years, that I felt my role was to be an encourager.
How had I forgotten that?!
Now that God’s reminded me, my entire perspective on my practical life has completely changed. I had put myself under enormous unnecessary pressure, and I didn’t even know it. I still feel called to write, but I’m no longer worried about what that’s supposed to look like.
It was never for me to stride upon the proverbial boards. I was made for backstage, to encourage those who are called into the spotlight, and frankly, I couldn’t be happier.
**You thought I’d write a post in which I didn’t mention music? You’re adorable.^
^And I just jabbed at my desktop monitor like it’s a touchscreen. It’s not.
^*Y’all, for my southern friends.