Monday, April 9, 2012

Know Thyself - a Devotional to Battle Fear in Your Writing

For the past two months, I’ve been moving at speeds nearing overload. It’s been pretty crazy. From full-time work to five kids (with massive science fair projects) to a new house which needed some major cosmetic renovations, there hasn’t been a lot of time to write. It doesn’t make for a very productive wordcount…I can tell you that!


In the middle of all of this, there has been a struggle with my writing-calling. A struggle to even consider the Genesis again. A struggle to daydream about my wip. A real struggle to take my smallest moment of mental solitude and dance around the idea of ‘what if’.

Interesting enough, my fellow AlleyCat, Julia helped tag one of my main problems in her post last Tuesday.

So, I want to chat a little today about what FEAR does to our writing and how we can dissipate those fears. It really all comes down to KNOWING Thyself.

I’ve come up with 5 things that fear does.

1. Distracts – The first whispers of fear bring with them one thing for certain: distraction. It’s the little niggling of uncertainty just before the self-examination begins. This hint of fear begins the unhealthy spiral of distraction away from our creativity and writing-purpose, and if fed, will lead to #2.

2. Discourages – If we remain distracted by our fear long enough, the questions begin. Is this story really good enough? How can I ever write as well as Julie Lessman, Laura Frantz, Denise Hunter, Liz Curtis Higgs, or Robin Jones Gunn? I'm stuck in chapter 2 and will NEVER write my way out!

3. Distrusts – With comparisons comes distrust. We don’t ‘measure up’, so we begin to lose faith in our calling. The discouragement builds to such proportions it blinds us from the Truth, which then leads us to #4.

4. Distance- We distance ourselves from the Source of our calling and sometimes from the ones He’s placed in our lives to encourage us. It makes it easier not to have to face people who are going to ask us about our writing, so we don’t have to admit to our many failings (we’ve convinced ourselves of in numbers 2 & 3). We might also distance ourselves from our writing, making excuses to do anything else but open up that document. (Been here more times than I care to admit). At the very end of this long and painful battle, we fall into the pit of DOUBT.

5. Doubt – Am I called to write? Will I ever learn? Of course the judges made those kinds of comments! I’m such a failure.

Oh, how we listen too much to the wrong voice! What’s happened when we make it to this point in our 'fear downward spiral'? We’ve lost sight of something vital.

WHO. WE. ARE.

I don’t mean:

Single, white, female

Or

Middle-aged, married male

Or

30-something soccer mom

Nope – I mean even more intimate and foundational than any of those things.

We are God’s kids.

HE HAS CALLED US HIS!!!!

He has NOT given us a spirit of fear. He has given us the power of his RISEN Son – power strong enough to shake the dead, and that kind of power is much greater than any doubt.

So what do we do to battle the evil doubt monster?

Remind ourselves to whom we belong.

1. If we get distracted, we fill our minds with the truth of God. We were created for a purpose, and within the folds of that purpose is the call to write.

2. If discouragement comes, we build our COURAGE with the truth of Scripture. Romans 8:31-32, 37 “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, give us all things?...In all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus.” Are you getting the hint yet? Who are you?

3. If you begin to distrust yourself, trust in the One who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light! Proverbs 3:4-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.” The One who never fails and is steadfast will make the way clear. He has called. He will equip.

4. If you feel the impulse to distance yourself, remember His GREAT love for you. So safe within his hold you will find strength, encouragement, and faith to fight against your fears. Hebrews 10:21-23 “and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” It’s all about HIS faithfulness! We have no need to run away, but we can find hope in His love and in the love our fellow writers sprinkle on us because they know Him too :-)

5. If we counteract all of those fears with the word of God, then (even if the doubt comes) we have all the truth necessary to counteract its influence. The powerful message we received in church yesterday was the story of Thomas, who declared that he needed to touch Jesus’ wounds to believe he had risen. What did Jesus say to him? “Stop doubting and believe.” Doubts may come, but through Christ we have the power to vanquish them with the TRUTH of his love.

Fear cannot win against Jesus. He’s conquered it all – so the next time fear starts to nimble at your mind and scratch at your heart, remind yourself WHOSE you are!

And the battle is over, before it begins :-)

How do you battle your fears in writing or in life? What words of wisdom or Scriptures encourage you to wage war against doubts?
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pictures courtesy of:
http://www.thechoicedrivenlife.com/seven-thoughts-on-prayer
http://eafromtheheart.blogspot.com/2011/09/jesus-i-want-to-trust-in-you.html

29 comments:

Sherrinda said...

Fear is so paralyzing and I've struggled with it so much lately. I found it interesting when you said it causes distance, for I hadn't thought about that. It's true though. I've not only distanced myself from my writing, but from my online community as well. It's hard to be around those whose passion for writing is so tangible when I am lacking.

Thank you for the reminder of whose I am. I am the daughter of the King and He has equipped me beyond measure.

Debra E. Marvin said...

A wonderful reminder! I subscribe by email -one of those who often read the posts but rarely comment, but I wanted to thank you all today for all those posts I haven't commented on as well.

Sometimes I think it's easy to call our fear other things. When I've been too busy to write or taken a break in writing, I notice that it becomes easier after awhile to have a "normal life". Less stress, that's for sure, but I think fear can then be easily hidden in excuses.
Thanks Pepper

Julia M. Reffner said...

I LOVE this post, Pepper!

I love Hebrews! Such a great reminder that we are inadequate, but oh what a high priest we have! Interceding for us, I love that thought!

I looked at one other blog this morning and it was Chatting at the Sky. Listen to what Emily Freeman shared today "How to Make Fear Work for You":
http://www.chattingatthesky.com/

Yes, yes, to what Debra said about calling fear by other names...too busy or whatever. Been guilty of this many a time.

Casey said...

Love, love, LOVE this post. Thank you...!

MaryC said...

Thanks, Pepper. I really needed to read this today. After an incredibly hectic spring, I actually have a week off school. I've been stalling about writing for all the reasons you listed.
Thanks for the pep talk!

Mary

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for the uplifting post, Pepper. Sound counsel. Faith trumps fear. Faith tromps it, too.

Joanne Sher said...

Pepper - this is amazing, beautiful, and SO true. Thank you.

Pepper said...

Amen, Sherrinda
Been there.
Am there :-)

But I'm climbing out of that pit on the shoulders of Jesus and His Truth.
Whew....

Love you

Pepper said...

Debra,
We love hearing your voice :-)

And yes, we do call fear all kinds of things. A client and I had this discussion last week. I told him that anxiety was fear dressed up in a suit.
Bottom line - it was fear.
It makes the picture much clearer when we call things by what they are - and then we are quicker to recognize the tools we have to fight them :-)

Blessings to you, Debra

Pepper said...

Oh Case and Julia,
So glad this blessed you.
And good to know we're all in the same boat.
Things are a lot less frightening when you are not alone :-)

Pepper said...

MaryC,
I understand the crazy and the hectic. My winter/spring has been there too.
Thankfully, God loves us so much he puts enough redirectional signs in our lives to get us back on track.

Blessings,

Pepper said...

Amen, Keli

Let the trumping and the tromping begin!! :-)

Jeanne T said...

Pepper, YES! So loved your post today. I'm not in a place of dealing with fear in my writing. Today. :) Been there before, and probably will be again. SO appreciated the Scriptures you shared today. This morning, on Family Life with Dennis Rainey, they shared a taped message by Crawford Lorritz' wife about fear. I didn't hear it all, but she talked about all the "buddies" fear brings when it comes calling.
You addressed some of them here.

I've definitely dealt with the aspects of fear you shared, especially the doubt--am I really called to write? I never sought it (always too afraid I couldn't do it), but then God gave me a story. This is the truth I cling to when I'm doubting. God gave ME this story, not someone else. So, with His help, I plan to do my very best to write it for His glory.

I'm holding onto this post because I'm certain I'll be reading it again. Thanks so much for sharing this today.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Pepper, you hit the nail on the head with this post. This battle is hard and it wears you out. It's nice to know we have all-seeing, all-knowing support, AND support from our writer friends.

Angie said...

So wise, Pepper! It would be an impossible journey without faith!

Ashley Clark said...

What a beautiful post, Pepper, and so true! I often struggle in this area. Something that happens to me when I'm feeling discouraged is that I feel like I have to figure out what God's will is all on my own, and that my discouragement must be showing I'm not doing a good job at it. But in actuality, I realize that's just overcomplicating things. All I have to do is depend on Jesus. That is all. And then He will take care of the rest. If I can't sense which direction is the right one, usually it's because I'm trying to find the "right one" on my own, instead of just trying to find Him. Thanks for this list--such an encouragement!

Krista Phillips said...

LOVE this post, Pepper! I struggle a lot with fear, with my writing and in life.

Lately, it's been, "What if my book doesn't sell well? What if no one wants to buy it??? What if I have a book signing and NO ONE COMES (very real fear, as I think all authors have had THOSE signings!!!)"

Not to mention, "What if I can't sell another book?"

On the life side, my biggest one that continues to not let me go is, "What if Annabelle dies?"

It's super hard, because even as I tell myself not to fear, I KNOW each of those are a possibility. I've seen each of them happen so many times, and God never promised me that they wouldn't.

He did promise that he would be with me though, and that I don't have to fear those things.

I'm a work in progress though. Much like your house was! God's still chipping away at my fear wallpaper... that stuff is HARD to get off, you know:-)

Beth K. Vogt said...

Talk the truth, Pepper.
So, so many people need to hear it -- me, included.
One of my anchors when I'm wrestling with fear is Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Myra Johnson said...

Truly inspiring, Pepper! Words I needed to read this week!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Pepper!

Such lovely words. You ARE a writer, Pepper. Never doubt that. You have a true gift with words and I know God will guide you where to use them best.

Cheers,
Sue

Pepper said...

Jeanne,
I love how God just worked out all sorts of messages to fit together today!

Pepper said...

Cindy and Angie,
AMEN!!

Pepper said...

You know, Ash - I am right there with you. It's almost like we have to 'add' something to God's work to make it feel right!
We're so weird - spinning in circles until God slows us down to hear his voice.

i'm a slow learner

Pepper said...

Oh Krista!
Some fears feel a lot bigger than others and I can't even imagine some of yours.
It's such a lesson for me to remember God is God of the big and the small.
And He is holding us - so why do we act like his fingers have holes in them?

Pepper said...

Beautiful verse, Beth.

Pepper said...

Myra,
Thank YOU for stopping by. So glad it could be an encouragement to you!

Pepper said...

Sue,
You are wonderful.
Thank you for that encouragement, dear friend.

Rebecca said...

Thank you for this! I am going to read the whole thing later when I have a quieter moment.

Regina Merrick said...

OK, Pepper, how did you know I've been struggling with this very thing for over a YEAR, now? Thank you, my friend.