It’s true now as it’s been true so often before.
I have to back up. I’m trying too hard.
How do I let go, not try so hard? Do I have to give up? Walk away?
Maybe come back later when I’m not so focused on the result and can remember to enjoy the process. I can get so results-oriented, so myopic. Progress is all I want.
As if writing or any art was ever all about the end product.
I get up and head to the kitchen for more coffee. It’s difficult to create good work. Refinement doesn’t just happen. Hard work is required to get out what you imagine. And yet, letting go and not trying so hard is ironically the only way to allow yourself to be surprised by inspiration. Our desire for art, for life, for love must be strong. We must choose for it over all else we could be doing. But it can’t be forced.
Her humble admission that she didn’t really know, it reminded me how I didn’t believe I could write the most difficult chapter in my book. Well, maybe it wasn’t the most difficult, but it’s definitely the one that gave me the most trouble. I wrote it acting on faith. I didn’t really believe I’d get it out, or that it was really a path to freedom.
But expressing that and facing the fear, the truth I’ve kept hidden inside, I didn’t realize it was hidden all this time. It came from a dark place, a wound I’ve carried and likely inflicted on others for years—it felt so good to get it out. I’d carried it, afraid of never getting it out, and now it’s gone. It’s been said. Maybe not perfectly, and maybe it won’t be understood by everyone. But it’s out there now, and no one can take that away.
It’s not ready to be shared, but I’ve got time. And I’m motivated now because I feel free now that it’s out. I had to work hard to commit to going there and saying it. But I also had to let go and not force it. There was something in being willing to go into the dark cave simply trusting it could be a tunnel. But not trying to make it happen.
I’m still thinking about this as I head back to my office with my refill. I tend to believe I can control a lot. But actually, I control very little. And sometimes, the only thing I think I do control is how I see the work–either as drudgery toward a goal or as a beautiful, developing process.
Am I being trained in how to see?
This world often feels much too big to do much about. And I’m so small–what could it possibly matter if I share my pain in words or not? When life’s pain feels big, bigger than us, bigger even than God and the whole world, I can feel hopeless and want to crash through buildings and make something change. Other times I decide to hide.
Can I learn to see that the only things I control are my responses? Can I be the master of my emotional universe, knowing I’m weak and unworthy of love and yet still in possession of God’s infinite protection and guidance?
Either both are true or neither is true. And without His rebalancing love, I tend to become either like the entitled older brother or the worthless younger one.
The key for both of them is compassion, but in their blindness, both believe it’s up to them. Pain and fear steal my senses and make me think it’s foolish to believe God could help/save/fix/love/meet/heal/train/know/use me through this calling of writing.
It’s this sucking hole inside, the one I know so well and spurs me on–and sure, God will use it because he takes what he can get, but I can’t expect this to be my deeper motivation. My healing is not his highest purpose. But he knows I need it if I’m ever going to get to what he’s really after. As often as I realize again what that is, I just as often forget it. The demand for love is insatiable.
If only I could remember what’s beyond my own gnawing need…
Ah, but I can! I have seen over the wall of my pain. I’ve seen what’s over there toward the light. And it’s (so far) unspeakably beautiful. Even though I didn’t quite believe it was there this last time I set out to write, I wrote my way out of the cave and I stayed and listened and forgot to try to control it. And that’s when I found freedom.
Maybe the simple fact is that in the darkness, we must choose to magnify the light in order to see.
Maybe all we can do, our only job, is to decide to believe. Maybe our eyes can’t easily see the light that God has been slowly revealing all along our path until we learn to magnify it. That is, to delight in his perfect control.
If pain has made us afraid and blind in our caves, maybe we simply have to be willing to let go and choose to magnify the light we have.
Bravery begets bravery. Maybe we just have to let God lead, to show up and let him try to reach us beyond our own blinding needs. When I let go of trying to fix myself, then I’m filled by him and I see others’ needs more clearly and even how he might want to fill them.
Is this why the only way out of a controlling dark life is faith, is the only way we are enabled to choose other than what our deficits demand?
This answer, even if only a partial one and still open to interpretation and full of mystery and ambiguity, it feels like just enough to remind me next time I forget and need encouragement. What matters is that I go into the dark, invite him, and choose to magnify the light.
That I can choose today. Because that is the choice I have been given.