I stopped reading for a while. More than a while...five years. I'm hoping that, in the big picture, that time span will be a blip on the screen. I need it to be that insignificant because I feel guilty about it.
Guilty because reading is what will help me be a better writer. Mad that I wasted time. Frustrated over missed opportunity. Jealous that others made forward progress while I stagnated. Envious still because I see fruit in their lives whereas my roots are still digging down.
(These are dark thoughts that, ultimately, lead to no good thing. Flesh be silent so that spirit can soar!)
I knew I was called to be a writer, but I avoided that call, ignoring it to pursue other thoughts (I cannot call them dreams). I can remember many times when my conscious self subjugated the call, openly disobeying God when He spoke in His still, small voice:
I have called you to write. So write.
It was a simple, clear Word. I knew it to be true but I disobeyed. Because I felt unworthy. Because I had no direction (what to write, exactly?). Because I didn't believe Him - that is the real reason.
All of my excuses - especially the ones mired in self-pity and self-loathing - boiled down to this Truth: I did not believe that He could make me in such a way. I did not (and sometimes still do not, if I am honest) believe that I could actually get to live my dream, operate out of my heart. That He could create me in such a way that is whole, good, complete - all of me lining up: inside, outside, head, heart. Furthermore, could He really be that good, that loving - to give me what I really want?
Even now as I labor over my novel and continue to submit my picture books, I struggle with belief.
Could this be real? Could I really be called to this, or am I making it up? Who in their right mind would care what I have to say? And besides, "they" are all so much better at this than I am. (Insert any number of names for "they", from fellow bloggers to well-known authors.) I can't even stop myself from mixing my metaphors or completely screwing up my grammar.
The thoughts go on. I know if you're reading this you can relate because what human can't? We all are plagued by sin and flesh and un-Truth. Even the most outwardly confident of us has doubts, fears. Unfortunately. I wish we didn't - I long for the Garden here on Earth. Innocenct to the point where we don't recognize our own shame, our own nakedness.
But that is not our reality. We live with regret, just as Adam and Eve did. We live with longing for a more perfect place. We live with striving, toiling in our labor.
And we also live with Hope. Hope in the Calling, Hope in the answering, Hope in the journey.
I do not have a deep, Hope-filled way of fleshing out the above paragraph. I have no illustration that will enforce my words. It is a faith statement. A choice to believe what I sometimes know to be True.
There is so much life in that choice. Even now, it gives me peace and joy to choose, to engage, to believe.
I may have tried to run from His Word but I have chosen to come home to it, to Him. I'm trying. With everything I have. That's the best I can do, and I know...that is good enough.