When I get stumped writing–as I was last week–it’s usual for one of two reasons:
1) I’ve got too much going on–either in my life or in my head, or in both.
2) I have, once again, let the fear of failure overtake me.
Surprisingly, this time it wasn’t #2. At least I don’t think it was.
#1 may be an easier problem to face, but it is much more difficult for me to solve. I suspect that for me, as with most people who juggle multiple commitments, setting priorities so that I have time to do the important but mostly non-urgent work of writing can be a mammoth challenge. Especially when I have been away from home for six months and need to catch up, at the same time that I move my office, change over computers (from a pc to a mac), and take on several small but new responsibilities.
All of this has had me spinning. I’ve been so eager to get back to writing that I was able to put in some hours here and there, but mostly my mind has been playing catch up. Finally, this past Sunday I tried to make my monthly retreat. (Monthly retreat is a one-day, usually silent time where I focus exclusively on my relationship with the Lord.) I was spinning so fast that, even though I “did” all the right things, it took me practically all day to unwind. Once I did, it was the end of the day and retreat time was over.
Now, sometimes that happens, and I believe that the Lord saw the effort I was putting into pray. But I didn’t have a retreat that I felt would nurture me for the next month. I’d taken the time to pray, but I hadn’t given myself the space I needed to pray. And suddenly, I realized that this might be my problem for the past weeks–not just with my prayer, but with my writing as well. (It’s amazing how my prayer affects my writing, and my writing affects my prayer.)
To put it succintly: Since I got home four weeks I’ve been home, I’ve given myself some time to write, but not the space.
I ended up going back to a question that’s been bothering me more and more: How do I balance all of these aspects of my life, while surrendering to the call of God in my daily life?
- the discipline that I need to write
- the relaxed atmosphere that my writing (and I) thrive in
- the embracing-all-aspects-of-life nature of being a writer (that I never stop being a writer can be wonderful but sometimes can feel overwhelming or exhausting)
- the relationships in my life–especially with the community I share daily life with
- the contemplative, receptive “mode” of prayer
- the multiple commitments I have (many are service to others; I value all of them)
At first, I felt a bit hopeless: All of these things pulling me in opposite directions, impossible to reconcile. Then I realized that maybe these “opposites” weren’t really opposite, but contrasts. The key for me might be to find the rhythm of going deep within (to pray and to write) and then going forth into community, communication, and evangelization. Because all of these aspects of my life are important, it really becomes a matter of discernment which ones I pay attention to in the moment. Where is God calling me at this moment? That’s the only question I need to focus on in the day to day.
Just as surrender is important to prayer, it’s also important in responding to God’s call in my daily life–including the call to write.
So, I determined to change that this week. It wasn’t easy to slow down–it’s one of the things I dread the most. But I can tell I’m on the right path. I’ve outlined my revisions for the feature script I’m rewriting; I rewrote the first 20 pages; I’ve journaled almost every day; I’m blogging today; and best of all, I feel quite connected to my writing. And my prayer has been deeper and richer too.
Where is God calling me at this moment–as a sister, as a writer? At this moment, I believe I am right where I am supposed to be: blogging here while I’m waiting for another sister to finish her responsibilities so that we can share supper together.