Idols, Altars, and Writer’s Block


Welcome my new friend Christie Lambert. She and I are staff writer’s together over at Christian Women Online Network. I so loved her writing that I asked if she would share with you today. You’ll love it too. So go get a cup of coffee, Diet Coke or a tall glass of water and enjoy reading some of Christie’s testimony. Be sure and check out her blog So Beloved.

 

It’s my mom’s fault that I’m writing this.

 See, about a year and a half ago, I called her in a frustrated panic after a long while of unfruitful writing efforts. My novel came back from the agent as an ‘almost good enough’. My short stories kept getting rejected. And my new work was falling flat — so flat that I kept boring myself to sleep by the computer (literally). Knowing that my mother was kind of obligated to listen to me whine (not many people would sign up to hear someone moan about their writing habits), I called her up one night. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I don’t know what’s happening. I can’t write anything. Nothing. Every time I try to write a short story, it just crumbles. There are no new ideas!

Mom: Uh-huh?

Me: So, basically, I think I’m done. All I’ve wanted to do my whole life is write and now I’m in permenant writer’s block. I don’t know what to do about it! Is it time to give up?

Silence. I’m thinking she’s coming up with some inspirational speech. Some motivation, some prayerful hope. At least some motherly sympathy.

Mom: laughter. Lots of loud, loud laughter.

Me: (She’s not even listening! She’s watching people make funny faces on YouTube!) Um, Mom? Did you hear me?

Mom: (Catching her breath though the laughter) I heard you! It’s just so funny!

Me: (feel free to ascribe a high-pitched tone here): Funny?!?!?!

Mom: Yes! Because I’ve been praying that God would step in and help you to use your writing for what He wanted instead of those depressing stories you’ve been writing!

Me: You’ve been praying about my writing.

Mom: Yep.

Me: And I haven’t been able to write anything.

Mom: That’s what you’re telling me.

Me: This writer’s block is all your fault.

Mom: Sounds like something you need to talk to God about.

Me: Speechless. And thinking — but what if He takes it away?

What if He takes it away?

 Even as I thought it, I heard the truth behind that question. A truth that was hard for me to hear coming from my own heart.

 My devotion was to this dream instead of to the Dream-Giver. An idol was front and center in my life. But why? Didn’t I love the Lord? Didn’t I want Him to be the epicenter of my world? Hadn’t I surrendered my life to Him long ago?

 I began to think about idols…as I considered the history of the Israelites forgetting the Lord and turning to man-made gods, it became clear. They turned to idols when they stopped trusting that the Great I AM, the Almighty Lord, was who He said He was — the only true God. The Deliverer. The King of Heaven and Earth. They doubted that He was enough — and so they looked to idols for help, for strength, to fill the void in their hearts.

 After being in a relationship with Him for most of my life…after seeing His presence and knowing His mercy…did I, just like the Israelites, fail to put my trust in Him? But how could my writing be an idol? Wasn’t I writing to serve Him?

 The Holy Spirit opened my eyes, real quick, to the answer to that question.

 Because, somewhere along the way, my motivation had changed. I wanted to write because I wanted to succeed. I wanted to prove to myself (and everyone else) that I wasn’t a failure. I wanted to be important. Valuable. And my writing was the only shot I had to gain those things. Wasn’t that the talent the Lord had given me? Wasn’t writing His purpose for me? If I failed that, then I once again failed Him. And fear of failure haunted me.

 Because hadn’t I let everyone down? Hadn’t I dropped out of college, gotten pregnant, gotten married so much sooner than I’d ever planned? Hadn’t I gone from Most Likely to Succeed to Stay-At-Home-Mommy in a town so small that no one had ever heard of it?

 I smiled and tried to keep myself together. But on the inside, I was a mess. I didn’t believe I was worth anything. I tried to find emotional satisfaction in the love of my husband, completely falling apart if we had a tough moment. I knew I was not enough to keep my husband happy, to be a good mother.

 I was looking for satisfaction in the arms of my idol, not yet understanding. The real problem was that I didn’t trust that Jesus was enough to fulfill my heart.

 I would’ve said that I believed it and I did. In my head. But there was a disconnect to my heart.

 Because my heart didn’t believe it. My heart didn’t believe that I’d be satisfied if I lost everything and was left with my faith. My heart didn’t believe that I was enough, just as I was — without accomplishments to decorate my life, without the world acknowledging that I was smart, talented, somebody. My heart didn’t truly believe that His love was without my merit. I didn’t believe that my life would actually matter until I made something of it.

 And I was terrified to give my idol up, for fear that I’d find out I was right.

 But I was at a breaking point. Even when I looked at my family and the blessings in my life, I felt dark inside and then even more sure that I was doing everything wrong. I could not hold onto joy.

 I am so grateful for my mother’s prayers. I am so grateful that our God is a Shepherd who will come looking for even one lost lamb.

 Because with that (divine!) writer’s block, I had a choice to make. I could take a leap of faith, giving up that idol to instead trust that Jesus is exactly who He says is — or I could continue in my fear, clinging to what I could do on my own, never really taking the Lord at His word. Never really tasting to see if He really is good. Never really giving up my own life to find His instead.

 I took the leap.

Are there words to adequately describe the marvel of surrendering one’s self and being given such life in return? It’s a life as big and glorious as the bursting colors of a sunrise…a life as precious and delicate as the outstretched wings of a sparrow, soaring on a breeze. It is His life that He gave and gives in abundance — and in this life, friends, I found that He is exactly who He says He is. Like the Psalmist, I can say that “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

 He is the restorer of broken things, healer of pain. He is peace where there is none, comfort in every kind of weather. He is friend closer than any other. He loves me, because of who He is and not because of who I am.

 And me? I am His child. I am valuable because He breathed life into me. I fulfill my purpose when I glorify Him; my ‘success’ is in giving up my life and letting His shine through. My purpose was never what I could do for Him — my heart was what He wanted.

 I can say with confidence that He is enough. If my life points to Him, then it has mattered.

 He brings contentment. He brings joy. He brings peace. He is the artist who brings beauty. When I struggle, when I have trouble — He is with me. When I fall short, it is not failure that defines me but grace.

 He is love that sustains.

 I’d always thought that once I delighted in the Lord, He’d give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4) — and I’d imagine a stellar career, a life loud with excitement and achievement ‘for’ Him…what I didn’t understand until I took that leap was that once we delight in the Lord, He becomes our desire. And those old dreams can never compare to the satisfaction of His love. Now I can honestly say to my Father:

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ~Psalm 73:25-26

The amazing thing is that everything I found to be true in my life is true in yours. I don’t know what dreams or relationships you’re holding tight — but if there is something that you’re afraid that God will ask you to give up, it might be time to look a little deeper. Are you clinging to that thing because you’re afraid that your life will be diminished if you lose it? Are you afraid that you will lose your own value if you give it up?

 If that rings true, at all….if you have your own idol that has been taking up room in your heart, I pray that you will ask the Holy Spirit to help you build an altar in place of it so that you can surrender your heart completely. Because you will find that your identity is not in the things of this world, but in your Father. You will find that your worth is not in what you’ve done, but in who you are in Him.

 You will find that He satisfies your soul in a way that you never imagined possible.

 You will find Jesus, the Savior who first came seeking you…and He will be all that you need.

 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. ~Romans 5:1-2, The Message

Christie Lambert is a small-town, southern writer who is daily amazed by the love of God. Although she loves fiction and has published a few short stories here and there, her writing is now focused on sharing the grace of Jesus that has swept her off her feet. She is usually doing laundry for her three small kids and musician-husband, drinking (too much) coffee, and reading while cooking (not recommended for those who like edible meals). She is currently obsessed with learning how to play the guitar and finishing her degree in Religious Studies. Christie can be contacted at christiedlambert@gmail.com and blogs at http://sobeloved.wordpress.com

 

 

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Comments

  1. Christie, thank you for sharing this part of your journey. It’s hard for me to express how much I can relate to this. My “diving writer’s block” was slightly different. For a long time I had a hidden desire to write. Occasionally it would come out, but for the most part I kept it quiet. I would sometimes get ideas about things to write, but I was never able to follow through on any of them. I would piddle around with some writing every now and then, but it never went anywhere. Several months ago I told God that I was ready to do anything, whatever He asked of me. My only request was that He put me on some task that would be fruitful in His eyes. He immediately told me to start writing. I was surprised by that, and didn’t do anything for a little while. Then one day He gave me a simple thought about writing for spiritual results, and not for the purpose of creating buzz or getting attention. So, I began writing with that purpose in mind, and it was like a steady stream was released. There is such joy in doing something that pleases Him! It just happens that for me, that is writing, just like it is for you. Thanks again!

Trackbacks

  1. […] asked me to share part of my testimony on her blog. I hope that you’ll join me in discussing Idols, Altars, and Writer’s Block for today’s post at Gracefull Women…and then please take time to browse through […]

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