“Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be…accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Some moments catch you by surprise. And sometimes, you expect a particular outcome or response to an event and end up with something wildly different instead.
I’ll be honest: I’m in a weird spot in my life right now. I’ve been calling it my “Arrested Development” phase, and no, I’m not referencing the once-dead-now-resurrected-on-Netflix television show (though I do enjoy that show). No, my arrested development comes in the form of being frozen in carbonite in a number of ways, both in writing and my personal life.
Until just now (literally, just now—I had an actual revelation while drafting this piece), I believed my frozenness was largely environmental and circumstantial: if I could just switch A for B and learn how to do C, I’d finally be able to move forward in my life. But, ugh, all these things keep getting in my way! How dare they. Can’t you see, THINGS, that I’m trying to do stuff here? Obviously not. The things are known for being super inconsiderate of peoples’ feelings.
But here’s the truth I’ve just discovered: It’s not the things’ fault. It’s mine. I’m getting in my own way. I’m letting my fears dictate what happens (or doesn’t). And that’s not okay. That is not what we are called to in this life.
Mick Silva of Higher Purpose Writers hosted a fantastic retreat the first weekend of October called Story Vision, which involved 15 writers gathering in a gorgeous 1930s beach house on Puget Sound to spend three days working through our things so we could get back to the core of our writing. And I was fortunate enough to be one of those fifteen.
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’d know I’m a pretty emotionally intuitive person. Now I don’t say that to brag—would you like to be the person who feels things so deeply that they cry at the drop of a hat? It’s not the most socially acceptable ‘gift’ to have.
Over the years though, I’ve come to accept and appreciate it for the gift it actually is. I can tap into a well of feelings that not everyone can. For a writer, that’s kind of golden. I don’t always have to just imagine what something feels like. I can actually feel it, and then translate it into the experiences of my characters, whether I’ve physically been through a situation myself or not.
As a result of this strange ability, the tears often come when they’re not welcome. But for some unknown reason, I really didn’t cry much that weekend, even in the midst of deep heart-sharing and working through the healing process to get to our stories. It was almost a magical relief to be able to sit back and absorb everything that was going on without being hindered by the interruption of tears.
I also found myself without too much to say (out loud). I like to talk to people, but sometimes it’s even more useful for me to just listen. The biggest benefits I got from the gathering are threefold:
1. I simply received. I got to take in this collection of inspiration and practical applications from Mick and the other writer-warriors, and just wrap them around me like a blanket that I got to take home with me.
2. A renewed sense of purpose. This is the quote that grabbed me on Saturday and hasn’t let me go yet:
“Your story is your greatest weapon against fear and evil,
Your greatest comfort to enjoy,
And the treasure people need.” —Mick Silva
Read that a few times over. Let it sink in. I love that it encompasses both acknowledging our call to write and the importance of recognizing how our own lives are a key component in being able to fight the darkness and share those insights with others. That, to me, is what this writing business is all about.
3. The courage to persist. Mick says, “The secret to all great fiction is persistence.” I’m not allowed to give up. And in the not giving up, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to accept the help I need to get myself out of the carbonite and actually do something with these stories burning inside me.
So, while I gather these things to ponder, I’m left with the golden glow of the weekend behind me. It’s pushing me forward and into that space where I have to sit in the anxiety for a bit, and that’s okay. I’m in suspense and incomplete, and I’m giving over control to see what God has in mind. But I’m not giving up. You shouldn’t, either.