I’ve been attempting to write this particular post for over four weeks. For some reason I’ve been exceptionally stuck. Between my late-night brainstorming sessions that ultimately amounted to nothing, and early mornings spent staring at a blank page, I’ve caught myself on several occasions growing outright frantic to develop an idea that I felt could offer something meaningful. I still don’t have it. This post is past due and my anxiety over simply scratching something together to just, “turn it in!” has got the best of me. I pray that at this moment, you’re in a season of peace. And if not, this goes out to you.
I recently began taking an inventory of the things in this world that make me anxious. To my surprise, for the first time in my life, writing has made my list. I’m gripped by a sense of loss as I realize that what I’ve always looked to for hope has suddenly let me down. I catch myself grasping for straws as I try to draw on anything I’ve found even remotely inspiring within the past few weeks. With every writing project in the past, I’ve always been able to strike a pace that pushes me forward in such a way that inspiration never feels too far away; a distance that keeps my attention while never allowing my focus to stray too significantly. But today, I’ll be lucky to finish the next sentence before Google starts beckoning my name as I remember that hilarious video of the former NASA scientist who created a squirrel edition “American Ninja Warrior” obstacle course in his backyard, filming squirrels as they rally through the brilliantly engineered maze hoping to reach the prize of assorted nuts waiting for them on the final platform at the end of the course. Okay…I’ve managed to resist – for now!
In all seriousness, if we had a different means of conversing at this particular moment, I would ask you this, “What are you currently struggling with?” I am curious, and if I knew the answer, I would be eager for the opportunity to pray for you. In light of feeling as though I have little to say, as sincerely as I can make this sound, I hope you’re doing well.
With every passing hour I’m reminded of the fact that we as humans are often quite limited in our capacity to care for others. And as my writers’ block continues to convince me that I have permanent inadequacies, I’m a little ashamed to admit that throughout the process, prayer never came to mind. It makes me realize that in my moments of stress, I should make a second column at the bottom of my anxieties list with a header of the words, “people I’ve prayed for this week.” Taking the eyes God gave us, removing the gaze off ourselves, and shifting it onto others is probably not a frequently prescribed anti-anxiety medication, but it should be.
The older I get, the more I begin to realize that my anxiety is nothing more than a symptom. A symptom to a much larger, darker in nature and rapidly growing underlying disease. I’ll call it the disease of self. As I reflect on those nights that I felt stuck, I begin to see that I was not battling a lack of inspiration, or the impending doom of a leering deadline, I was afraid of running into a distortion of my self-image. “What if it’s bad? What if I sound dumb? What if I expose myself as anything other than the magnificent writer I want others to see? What if my grammar proves that I’m not as good as I dream I could be?” These, along with many more are the questions that Satan, the world, and my flesh would love to keep me fixated on.
Luckily, in my war against the lack of care for others, and my daily obsession with “self,” I do not stand empty handed on the battlefield or face my opponent all alone. The Lord looks down on my helplessness with compassion and tells me that through Him, I will be given all the necessary means to fight, as He possess all the proper equipment.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-17.
I shudder to think of how easily I feel defeated, when words like this are written in our Bible. What power does my inadequacy or the temptation to give into “self” have over the Word of God when THIS is what the Lord has to say about the way He desires to equip us? In my angst I’m starting to see, there is something much larger at play, that underneath my surface fears there is an enemy who wants to take me out, and when I’m stuck behind a blank page with some thousand odd words still left to write, my enemy knows exactly where to strike and how to leave me gazing in the mirror, looking proudly at the reflection I see, standing with a list of questions that he would love to see my “self” use to define me.
I feel closer to being free from my anxiety now, than I did before starting. What God desires to teach me through these blogs is so much richer than what I could have tried to teach myself, and after four weeks of constant churning I’ve learned that it has much less to do with me. So, I turn it back to you. If you’re not in a place of peace, and you too feel that your list of anxieties just gets longer every year, then I encourage you to read Ephesians 6, and tell the Lord that you wish to be with Him throughout the fight. If we had a different means of conversing at this particular moment, I would say that God has interest in you. And I’ll close with this, “if I can ask a heart-felt question from a distance, even though we may have never met, how much closer is the Father to those who trust in Him?”