I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve found myself in a bad place the last couple of weeks. Writing has been hard, and forcing myself to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard has been a battle of self-discipline. Writers say this, of course, that you just have to show up and do the work if you really want to be a writer, but I’m getting it on a soul level that I couldn’t when I was just dabbling at it, pretending to be a writer while I did other things like counseling and youth ministry. It was easier when I could distract myself with other people’s problems.
I don’t have the same distractions anymore, and now I have to sit and write and do the work that God’s been preparing me to do since I was a little kid. My dad, actually, is the one who reminds me of that all the time. Whether he does it on purpose or not, I don’t know, but he talks to me about these articles he’s reading about other people who are writers, which he wouldn’t be reading if I weren’t writing, and somehow he manages to tell me every time that I’m a writer and I couldn’t do anything else if I wanted to.
It’s true, of course, I’m a writer because writing is how I put the pieces together. It’s how I make sense of God and the world and myself. But, I think that’s part of why I’m in the bad place. Sometimes it’s hard work to live with yourself every day, and even harder work to look fear in the face and hit “publish” anyway.
And this bad places doesn’t mean I’m dark or sad, and I’m not even thinking that everyone else in the world is a turdface. But, I am a little bit sick of myself and a little bit tired of my own neuroses, and I am wondering how everyone else is the world doesn’t think I’m a turdface.
I think Anne Lammot is right and when you sit down to write all your psychiatric issues sit down next to you, and they have some feelings. And I am having some feelings.
One of my girls texted me last week to get coffee, and it always throws me off a bit when they’re not afraid to tell me the truth about who I am, but no sooner had she sat down than she said, “I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty, but I know you haven’t been yourself and it’s all over your face, and I know you’re having some feelings, and I just want you to know that they’re valid. Whatever your feelings are, they are valid. Now please work through them because I miss you.”
If I ever want to know what they truth looks like said in love, I have coffee with my girls.
Last week after Bible study I told my friend Nickie about the bad place, about what my girl had told me, about being sick of myself and how I was afraid that everyone around me was sick of me too. She said that she can’t speak for everybody else but that she’s not sick of me. And then she suggested that maybe I didn’t have to work so hard to be together all the time, because she got a lot from being with me in my not-together moments, and that my raw, in-with-Jesus moments were the ones that made her think the most.
Then she said, “It’s like you’re in one of those Strong Man competitions in those moments. Like, you’re moving a tire and all you’re energy is spent on digging in and putting one foot in front of the other. And when you’re energy is on other places, you can’t move the tire. So, maybe you need to just be in with Jesus. Dig in and write about it.”
If I ever want to know what the truth looks like said in analogies, I have coffee with Nickie.
I suspect that she’s right, too. I suspect that writing a book, or writing anything for that matter, is like moving a tire. It takes energy and focus, and sometimes you’re just gritting your teeth to put one foot in front of the other. And sometimes it all feels pretty pointless.
But, I have to wonder about what happens when the tire moves, even just a little bit. I have to wonder about the work that can get done when we just dig in with Him. And I have to wonder about what happens when I sit down with my psychiatric issues, and feel my feelings, and put fingers to keyboard. I suspect it’s the way that I find my way out of the bad places.
Because I’m a writer, and I couldn’t do anything else if I wanted to.