As with most things in life, writing is enjoyed by many people, and hated by just as many. Whether or not there is actually a 50/50 split is irrelevant; but I can tell you that in my own life, that is the case. I love to write while my wife actively seeks to avoid it, to the point of opting to call friends sometimes instead of explaining over text. It’s the same story with our kids. Our daughter writes stories, songs, and poems in her free time while her brother does his language arts work in order to get the grade and nothing more. Not that he isn’t equally creative, he just doesn’t express it that way.
I mentioned above that I love writing. And while that is true, I must admit that I don’t actually do much of it. Of course, I could regale you all of the valid reasons that life has assigned other priorities to my free time. Or how certain personal health setbacks have derailed my inspiration and motivation. I could do both of those things, and those sentiments would land on mostly receptive ears. But the truth of the matter is…people will make time for the things that are important to them. It’s as simple as that. If you really want to spend more time with your spouse or kids, you will. If you want to finally start that new hobby that you’ve been thinking about for years, you’ll find the time for it, I promise.
Of course, there will always be those that say that circumstances in life, circumstances outside of their control, have forced them down a path they were not intent on taking. And while for some this may be true, for the vast majority it is only a more convoluted excuse. I know because I was party to this type of thinking for many years. For far more of my life than I care to admit, I have allowed myself to be the victim in my own story. I have allowed events that happened to me define who I was. And for the majority of that time, I was unaware that it was happening. That is to say, I was unaware that I had a choice in the matter. But I recently reached a point in my own life where I was ready to end my life altogether for the simple fact that I felt I could not control even the simplest aspects of it. It was a tough pill to swallow when I finally and fully realized that not only was I in control of how I process hurts and traumas that were inflicted on me, but that I have been subconsciously allowing these events to rule over every aspect of my life.
At least it was for me it was a tough pill, which is how I got to the point that suicide seemed like a very real and viable option. Because at this point in my life it was no longer just me who was being hurt by my self destructive behavior, but my family as well. To be fair, my family, as in my siblings and parents have been affected by this course of inaction for over 3 decades. When I said earlier that it was now affecting my family, I am referring to my wife and kids. I say all this to say that at any point, you can have the same realization that I did. You do not have to wait until your life is literally falling apart. I promise…you don’t have to wait.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.Psalm 139: 13, 14
Part of my recovery from a life of victimhood is reclaiming who I was designed to be. I know that I was designed, and I know that you were too. See, when I was at my lowest. When I was ready to end my life, I cried out to God. I offered my life to Him as a final plea. My life had become completely unmanageable under my own power. The last option that I had available to me was to end it, ending the amount of opportunities I had to hurt myself and those around me any further. But when I offered my life to Him something altogether wonderful happened. He took it. There was no anger in His presence, no shame or guilt. He wrapped me in His loving arms and held me. And then, though I fought it mightily, He led me up to my bedroom where my wife was sleeping, and the start of a conversation where I finally admitted that I needed help; that I was not able, nor had I been for some time, to handle things on my own.
Several months later, and several counseling sessions, discipleship meetings and countless difficult conversations later here we are. Here I am. Alive, mostly well, and ready to step into my gifts and talents instead of running from them. One of those gifts, perhaps the only one that has stuck with me through everything is writing. I have always loves writing, and I have always been above average at off-the-cuff writing. Make no mistake, I am not touting myself as an accomplished writer, or even a good one. in fact, for the majority of my life I have avoided writing anything of interest to me, and have only ever written as an assignment or to help someone else out. But in the back of my head I knew. I knew that writing was important to me. I knew that writing was special in its’ ability to convey thoughts, emotions, and ideas seamlessly and accurately. Perhaps it was that knowledge, and the subconscious awareness of my hurts that led me to avoid it for so long.
Maybe somewhere deep inside I knew that if I began to write for personal reasons that the demons that I allowed to dwell inside me would begin to rear their ugly heads. Maybe I knew somehow that I could not effectively write if I had not dealt with the personal things I needed to deal with first. This is all possible. But its far more likely that I was just scared. Scared to admit that there were things that were out of my control. Scared to admit that I needed professional help in dealing with them. Scared to admit that I had a God given talent that I was avoiding because I knew the implications of acknowledging it, and Him. As my pastor recently said to me. “Perhaps you’re relentless desire to write is not so that you can become a famous author. Maybe God doesn’t have those kinds of plans for you. Maybe He just wants you to write because it’s the most effective way you know to communicate.” I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. It was enough of a nugget to keep me thinking for a while.
Have I been going about this all wrong? Have I been stuck in what I thought was a relentless writers block because I didn’t want to effectively communicate? I know this all sounds wild and unsubstantiated. I am, afterall, not a licensed professional of…well, anything. I am also not a stalwart spiritual leader yet. But I do have almost 37 years of experience as me. And I have tried a lot of different things to reframe, forget, or numb the pain I was living in to varying degrees of failure. So I can’t tell you what will work for you. I can’t tell you why some people go their whole lives with unrealized potential and others make a mark at 5 years old. I don’t know why writers torment themselves at every turn and very few actually ever write anything that is personally or professionally significant.
What I can tell you, is that for me, the journey has started with an admission. An admission that on my own, left to my own thoughts, emotions, and mechanisms, I am not a very useful individual. I can do things to make myself appear useful. I can fool a boss with relative ease. I can even fool myself at times. But when I close my eyes at night to rest, I am left with the same inextinguishable thought…there is something more. Only recently have I allowed myself the honesty to surrender myself to the process of transformation that I believe is necessary for anyone who wants to experience the fullness of their purpose while on this planet. For me that is writing. Writing what…I have no idea. But writing will be at the core of who I am until the day I take my last breath. I pray that that day is as far off now as it can be, because I feel a peace now that I haven’t really felt before.
I’m not better by secular standards. I am still dealing with a lot of baggage from my childhood and early adult life. The difference now is that I’m not carrying it anymore. I have laid it at the feet of Jesus. It now sits under the cross with every other burden that we have chosen to surrender to Him. The fallout from my actions and inactions will be with me for the rest of my life. But I am surrounding myself with people who care about building others up now. People who are honestly joyful at the success and progress of others. The type of person that I am striving to be each day. I am no longer burdened with the guilt and shame of what I’ve done. Aware, yes. But burdened, no.
The mystery is this, you must find your “why.” Why are you going to wake up every day? Why are you going to give something your best effort? It will be different for each of you, but there is a why for every one of you. I hope to be a light in this world. I hope and pray that I can be a producer of good. I want whatever voice I have left to be used to build others up. I look forward to realizing my own potential, even if that potential is just being able to communicate my own thoughts and desires effectively. I love you all, and I pray you find your why sooner than later.