Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pridefully Fearful

It's been a while since my last blog post. I can think of a million and one explanations. However, I must admit none of my reasons can sum up the main cause, one which I can barely whisper ... I am afraid.

I am afraid of sitting down to write only to find there is nothing left to say.
I am afraid I will never write anything else touching or compelling.
I am afraid God will ask me to write something hard.
I am afraid people I love with disagree with me or not like my writing.
I am afraid my words will go unread for no one will find reason to enjoy what I've written.
I am afraid others will like what I've written and expect me to write more.
I am afraid of future success.

Fear is a terrible thing. One thing I know is fear is not of God. Long ago, someone told me the words "do not be afraid" or "do not fear" appear 365 times in the Bible, or once for each day of the year. If it is important enough for God to mention 365 times, then I suppose it is a truth He wants me to embrace.

And yet I still find myself needing frequent reminders to let go of my fear for it is a huge stumbling block, sneaking in when I least expect it. Usually I bump into fear while I am still on my mountaintops, tripping and then falling to the valley of despair far below.

Three weeks ago, I spent a lovely weekend at a writer's retreat. It was a God-ordained trip from beginning to end. Fingerprints of God's orchestration were over each piece. I came home encouraged, with a plan to write and an eagerness to match. Within 48 hours of returning, I had written a devotional newsletter which I emailed to over 300 friends. The response was overwhelming. Emails upon emails of encouraging words. For a few days, I was high on cloud nine, beaming from the brightness of success and ready to see where God would take me.

As the intense joy of first success floated away and the hard work of moving forward crept in, a dark cloud of fear swept in over me. Now I am afraid.

What if I cannot reproduce another devotional, especially now that I've committed to writing one each month?
What if I manage to write the next one but no one enjoys it?
What if this grows to be a thing that is too big for me to handle?
What if I am not ready to write for the purpose of sharing God's love with others?
What if I don't know what I am talking about and I lead people the wrong way?
What if ... what if ... what if...

There is only one source for all that fear and for each of those questions: Satan. He sneaks in to steal joy, to sow seeds of fear, to uproot God-given desires, to rob us of the pleasure of doing what we love for the glory of our Savior.

Tonight I pondered being afraid. I considered my fear of success as well as my fear of failure. This much I know is true ... I'd rather succeed at failing by giving it my best shot than fail at succeeding because I wouldn't even try.

The best way I know to succeed is to seek the Lord, for in Him resides my only hope. In 2 Chronicles 26:5, it is said of King Uzziah, "He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success." Later on, Uzziah becomes prideful, believing his success is due to his own great abilities. It is said in the Proverbs, "Pride goes before a fall." Pride brings Uzziah to his downfall as king, and pride is what prevents me from writing.

My fear of not being able to write anymore is not based on facts nor do they have any validity. It is simply the direct result of my own personal pride. I think that I've done a great job writing and I give all the accolades to myself, therefore I now worry I will not again produce something of a similar quality.

The truth is that I can't reproduce another devotional. In fact, I can't do much of anything on my own, except for mess up. But praise God I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Tonight I am on my knees, praying for forgiveness of giving into fear, allowing it grow in my heart. I am giving the act of writing words (which I love so much) back to God. He gave the gift of writing to me and allows me to enjoy putting words on paper. Like Hannah who gave her longed-for baby boy back to God, I will give all of that which was given to me back to the One who is known as the Giver of All Good Gifts.

This is my prayer: Whatever measure of success that I have through writing, whether is is big or small, whether it is published or never even makes it to my personal blog, may each word that comes from me be for the glory of God. To God be the glory for great things He has done.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Morning Dilemma

It was a dark and stormy morning ...

At the writer's retreat I recently attended, I learned that this is not a good way to start off a best selling novel. It's probably not the best way to start off this blog post either, however, it is true.

It's dark, thanks to a combination of heavy cloud cover and daylight savings time. It's storming, complete with heavy rain, bright flashes of lightening, rumbling thunder and gusts of wind. Perfect laying in the bed and sleeping in weather.

And I have someplace to go ... with all five kids ... all the way across town.

It's a dark and stormy morning, and I just feel like staying in the bed. I won't. I'm going to be responsible and get my attitude together and do what a good mom should do, but for right now I'm wishing I could just crawl back under the blankets and sleep to the sound of rain falling.