Typically, if I get anxious, I can’t write. Nothing ever sounds good enough and I don’t even bother trying.
Fortunately, my profession, my daily work, involves writing. But, it involves writing for a place, a company and local news geared towards a small community.
And that’s kind of what I’m learning about this anxiety and writing stuff.
Truth is, I love writing, and I shouldn’t worry about the critiques or the opinions of other people. It is my calling, my gift. But, writing what interests you and also what may interest your readers helps too.
It also helps that I know that I should be “anxious for nothing” and that God has not given me the Spirit of Fear!
To add, the past few weeks have allowed me time to really reflect, to remember that I have the opportunity to tell the stories of those who have gone before us. I’m talking about the stories that tell a part of history that many people are uncomfortable about reflecting on … really telling the truth about life and what’s really more important!
Hopefully I’ll have more than enough opportunity and time to do that here too!
A few days ago, during an early cold morning, I noticed the sky with the color and hue that’s always been my favorite moment. I never really bothered to take too many photos of moments like this and began to wonder why.
So, I actually pulled out my iPhone and took a few pictures.
The first photo I took was one of the light pole at the curb I was parked on as the sun peaked some of its rays over the horizon of my block. The sky was a kind of blue color that I absolutely loved. The light on the pole was the perfect touch to an ongoing sunrise.
Those are the moments I love. It actually hit me in my core to see this. I literally stopped in my tracks and just took the time to internalize the moment.
It was like God gave me yet another gift for the morning … I was awakened with health and strength … and this scene right here was an extra gift to the morning. It was not a rush morning. It was a morning that started off peacefully. And this photographic moment was a perfect addition to the day.
After taking it in, I took the photo, feeling as though I didn’t have the moment for too long and needed to record it.
Normally, I’m not that impressed with smartphone photos and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. And yet, it seemed like every new phone being advertised from the Google Pixel to the latest Samsung presented itself the opportunity for me to get a phone with a much better camera, which in my head meant I would automatically have the best shot.
But, the morning I took the photo of the sunrise with the light pole in the foreground, I realized that I was looking to a machine to actually give me the best shot, rather than actually working to make the shot look amazing!
This led me to question the way I approach any of my creative work, be it my writing or drawing or anything.
What do I value? What do you value? And why? This photographic moment has even moved me to assess my Faith and spiritual matters.
I didn’t have to work that hard with the sunrise. But, I did need to allow some creativity, some effort and some time and patience to have the very best shot. The phone was built for what it needed to do as far as the camera function was concerned. But I can’t count on it to be creative for me alone.
I’ve taken hundreds upon thousands of iPhone photos of people, moments and opportunities. But I couldn’t remember the last time a photographic moment like the one with the sunrise was so very good.
Now, I see the use of my iPhone differently. And I’m learning to see other things a little clearer too. The insatiable need to “update” or “upgrade” is slowly diminishing as value and purpose is being adjusted.
My life is not perfect. But, I am where God wants me to be. Whenever I get doubtful of that, I am immediately reminded through His Word and through past experiences that God knows what He’s doing with me.
But, I’ll be honest, if it were up to me, it would be easier. Things would be almost “perfect.”
It’s that endless search to be “whole” in some kind of way … and we quickly look to things, possessions, opportunities and things of the like to do so.
I would have the abs I want. I would have the muscles I want. I would have the clothes I want. I would have the phone I want. I would have the computer I want, the car, the house, and so forth and so on.
But, that’s not perfect. That’s just stuff. I would stay on the topic of material possessions, but that’s a whole other discussion in of itself.
I’ll admit, the places and plans that we have for our own lives sound “perfect,” but I am beginning to see that those thoughts come when we seek to have a life that’s without challenges and trouble. I’ve been guilty of this more than not.
In so many ways, it’s like God has been keeping me from trying to have it so “perfect” down here on earth and in my own definition in an effort to keep me from missing the experience of relationship and life with Him and Christ Jesus both here and in heaven.
And, then there’s the irony around this desire. We simply cannot and will not be able to experience the “perfect” life by way of material possessions or life circumstances that are consistently in our favor.
1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV)
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect,establish, strengthen, and settle you.
Interestingly enough, I have found out over the years that I have learned to walk out my faith in Christ, that “perfection” requires a bit of suffering.
I acknowledge that I don’t know what kind of suffering you’ll experience. The New Bible Dictionary defines “suffering” as “conflict, pain, corruption, drudgery and death.”
But, we have God’s Grace (God’s unmerited favor) on our lives to get us through those periods of suffering.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities,that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
God will “perfect,” or make us whole, suitable, adapted for something! Our understanding of why we are still here, being the best we can be, living the life we’re supposed to have, starts with God in Christ Jesus!
He’s the only one whose able to “perfect” our hearts and our minds so we can keep from running to “stuff” to help us perfect something to our own adaptation.
Along with perfecting us, God will establish, strengthen and settle us, meaning that he will make us strong and make us rooted and grounded in Him as we focus on Him rather than the circumstances.
My wife and I had a candid conversation about trusting God with our hearts. We talked about my career path and her career path … mostly mine.
For example, I love the idea of pursuing a Ph.D. and I may do that sooner than I think. But, I also like the idea of earning more training in the media realm, particularly Journalism and Creative Writing and even Graphic Design (Art, Illustration).
When my wife Rachel and I attended a nearby college preview day to see what they had to offer, I was really excited by what I learned. Then came the questions … does this make sense, will this work, and so forth.
I’m learning not to cringe if I get excited over various topics or ideas that light up my heart. Where do we learn that “cringe” feeling over things that light us up, the things that make our heart soar?
My guess is shame. That among other issues of course. We feel like we can’t have certain things in life because we are either not worthy of it and God certainly wouldn’t want us to have certain things … or we lack believe that God is a giver of good gifts.
Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Theirs just some things that God will not let me have … at least not yet. And it is not because God is cruel, unloving and unfair. Far from it! God loves me and loves you, and often times I see that love in play when He withholds certain things from me that are not for me and gives me the things that He desires to give me out of his abundance and out of his love for me. This is actively God’s Grace and God’s Mercy. His Grace and Mercy means way more to me than material things.
Psalm 84:11 (NKJV)
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
My wife spoke this point to me: “trust God with your heart!”
Note, not “trust your heart,” or “follow your heart.” We both knew that could lead to some very interesting, treacherous places.
So, in the midst of all of the questions I have about what’s next, I have learned to just relax and see the Lord in the midst of it all. We want to be sure not to lean on our own understanding of the issues of life, but to reach out to and acknowledge the Lord in our life … the Lord of our life … trusting God and Christ Jesus as we go forward.