i don’t have anything to write about

“I don’t have anything to write about.”

I hear that thought in my head every day. Multiple times a day, even. Sometimes, it rings so deafening in my ears that I have to walk away. I need something else, a distraction, anything, to make it stop. I get up from my computer, or close my journal and busy myself with something else.

All the while, the lie I just gave into is killing the artist, the creativity that longs to come out of me. I’m stifling it with fear, with excuses, with doing the dishes or the laundry or going to the grocery store. I’m stifling it by doing anything but showing up at the page.

I’ve been going through The Artist’s Way, which is a self-guided workshop that helps people who are “blocked” creatively to process and heal so that they might create in the way they were created to. The last few weeks, the question of “What is keeping you blocked? Is it worth it to stay blocked?” has been posed multiple times.

Those are hard questions. Hard because they bring all of the ugly parts of your heart right to the surface, and before you know it you’re staring the darkest parts of yourself in the face wondering, “What do I do with this?”

I can list off a number of things I think contribute to keeping me blocked. But, the top of that list by far is the lie above: “I don’t have anything to write about.”

Because what that really means is: I don’t think my life is interesting/cool/dramatic/funny/meaningful/purposeful/(insert adjective here) enough to be worth writing about publically.

And what that really means is: No one will care about what I have to write about.

You can see where this is going.

Because what that means is: I’m writing to earn people’s approval. I’m writing to impress people. I’m writing to try and be noticed. To have something to offer people, so maybe I’ll get something from them in return.

Yikes.

That is not the best side of my heart, I’ll tell you that.

And I desperately need it to change. I desperately need Jesus to tear down that idol, and give me a new heart that desires to create and write as obedience to him. As an offering of worship to him, in response to his goodness and gift of writing that he’s given me. That desires to show up out of obedience, and leave the results to Him. A new heart that sees Him and other people as beautiful, and not as useful.

Because the belief that I don’t have anything to write about is a straight lie. This morning, I jotted down a list of over 20 things that I could write about right now. But, I too often look down that list and mentally cross off topics that I don’t think other people would find interesting. Before I know it, the list is down to zero and I’m paralyzed by the belief that I am not good enough.

My artist, who is longing to write, to tell stories, to articulate the beauty in this world no matter how small, is left curled in the fetal position, bruised once again by my abandonment.

There is an artist in all of us. We were created by the Creator, in his image. To create is in our very DNA, so how could anything other than that be true? And every time I let fear or insecurity drive me away from the page, drive me away from creating; every time I choose to hide in my busyness instead of being obedient to how God has wired me, I’m killing a little bit of that artist. I’m killing a little bit of my own soul.

Just because I’ve recognized this lie, doesn’t mean it’s going down easy. Satan would love to keep me paralyzed with fear, and not taking steps toward the life God created me for. It’s going to be a process of healing my artist, of building trust that I’m not going to abandon and run away out of fear. It’s going to take a time of healing that won’t happen overnight. And I’m ok with that because I’m not doing this alone.

Jesus is walking with me, and I’m going to do my part by showing up at the page.

some exciting news

As you may have guessed by now, I’m a fan of writing. I love it. I love how it helps me see the world in a deeper way. I love how it gets me past surface-level thinking on myself, how it helps me to uncover layers in my heart that I didn’t know were there. I love how it helps me process who God is and know him more intimately.

But most of all, I love writing because God gave me the ability to write.

He gave me this desire, this longing to write down stories of life and people and how I see him working and moving. And because of that, my ability to write is sacred to me. It’s not to be used carelessly or for selfish motives. No, my only response to this gift can be to give it back, to give it away, to use the words I’m given to restore and uplift and encourage and speak life.

This blog was the first step, and my first experience in writing for others. But it didn’t take me long to realize that this blog was not the end. There was stirring inside me… a stirring to start pursuing something I’ve always wanted to do with my writing: tell human stories.

If you’ve asked me what my dream job is anytime in the past 5 years I most likely said: travel around the world, and tell the stories of the people I meet.

Ordinary people. People whose stories you wouldn’t know about otherwise. People whose stories are gorgeous and tell of pain and suffering and hope and healing. People whose lives have been transformed by the love of others. I want to use my writing to give these people, and the organizations that care for them a larger voice in the midst of all the messages we get thrown at us today.

And in the past year, God has stopped allowing me to ignore this desire I believe he has put on my heart. It is constant. It is heavy. Yet, until recently I had no next step. I was blogging. I was meeting with people who work for non-profits and asking for advice, but I still felt stuck.

And then God showed up. Big time.

On November 17th, I’ll be joining a group of seven other incredibly talented creatives in India for a week-long photographic workshop called Light The World. The team will be led by humanitarian photographers Esther Havens and Austin Mann, who each have years of experience working with organizations to help them tell their stories.

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During our time there, we will be partnering with an incredible organization called JOYN to tell stories of the restoration they are bringing to people in India. I will be working predominantly as a writer and collaborating with our photographers to capture the words to their images. It will be invaluable hands-on experience and training in the exact line of work I’ve dreamt about doing.

God is so good. I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that this is actually happening, and could not be more excited to take another step forward with my writing.

But, I would be lying if I said this was all rainbows and butterflies. There is fear. There is insecurity. There are lies being thrown at me left and right that say I’m not good enough, not cool enough. Saying that I have no right to be going on this trip, that I have no place here. That I should back out. That it’s dumb for me to think my measly writing could be used for something greater than I could imagine.

I’ve always been told that the attack comes when you start becoming a threat. And I feel that. I recognize that. I am moving forward. I am choosing to put aside fear and am taking risks. I’m investing time and finances into this trip that have already forced me to trust God more than I did three weeks ago. And the enemy hates that.

So, I’m asking you to pray for my time leading up to the trip and for our time in India. That we would fight for people, for what is true and right and good. For dignity and restoration. That we would give of ourselves and not be afraid to offer our gifts to be used for something greater.

I’m so excited to keep you updated on this whole adventure! You can make sure to not miss a thing by subscribing to receive my posts in your inbox on the right side of this page. For more frequent, shorter updates come hangout with me on Twitter and Instagram.

This all feels so big. But, that’s why I’m walking in to it.

It is big. But our God is so much bigger. And I can’t wait to watch the next step of his grand plan unfold.

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*I mentioned above that this trip is a financial investment. If any of this resonates with you and you feel led to give financially, you can do so here

why i write

One Saturday about three weeks ago, my husband Taylor and I had a day off together. It was one of those gorgeous spring days in Austin- 80 degrees, not a cloud in the sky- and  my unsatisfiable itch to be outside was going crazy.

My mind was also going crazy.

See, the night before my friend Amy and I had a pretty truth-filled, mind-shattering, lies- exposing conversation. The “hard, but good” conversation. You know… the kind where your best friend is looking you in the eye, not holding back punches, telling you what you need to hear and it’s all at once the most refreshing and freeing and acutely painful thing. If you’re anything like me, your brain stops working in the middle of the conversation. Not that you stop listening, not that you’re putting up walls, but you just. can’t. handle. any. more. Thoughts and feelings and beliefs are pouring in, yet my ability to pour them back out has ceased. My ability to process completely goes out the window, I feel like I’m drowning in my own thoughts, and I’m stuck. Here’s the thing- I’m a deep thinker, extremely introspective and as a result, I typically process slower. So at this point, the point where my brain is on overdrive, the point when my thoughts are beginning to swirl and resemble a very large, nasty-looking hurricane cloud, I have only one choice. I must find my way to the eye of the hurricane. To the place of rest, peace and quiet- if only for a few moments.

For me, that place is writing. 

So on that Saturday, I wrote. I sat outside and played frisbee with Taylor. We ate lunch in the park and laid in our hammock and soaked up as much sunshine as possible. We read books, and I wrote.

That's me, on that Saturday, in my happy place.
That’s me, on that Saturday, in my happy place.

Almost instantly, I could feel the storm easing up- after having its way in my mind for 24 hours. There were still remnants of course- some ideas where shifted around, some trees I thought were solid knocked over. There was still wreckage to clean up, feelings leftover that I wasn’t sure what to do with, but I was at peace. And the anxiety, the restlessness, the shame I had been fighting against the night before all washed away with the storm.

Later that evening, as Taylor and I were debriefing our day, I was sharing with him all that I had written earlier-  the fears, the feelings, the confessions, the lies, the truth. After  I finished talking, he said,

When you write for a while, I can tell. There’s something different about you…it’s like there’s more to you than there was even a few hours ago.

And that, in a very profound, succinct nutshell, describes my relationship with writing.

I have to go pretty far back in my 24-year-old memory to remember a time when writing wasn’t a substantial part of my life. My first memories of writing my thoughts down was in middle school. I was far from consistent. I would write for a few days, fill a few pages, and then get bored with it. There were more exciting things going on like basketball practice, or family beach trips, playing in the pool or arguing with my brother and sister. Then, high school hit and writing became a chore. Essays, book reports, annotations. While I devoured any book I could get my hands on growing up- namely Nancy Drew mysteries- it took discipline to finish books in high school, much less analyze them and produce 3-5 page, single-spaced essays.

Then for some reason that I can’t really put my finger on, I picked up a spiral notebook in college and started journalling. It started as an outlet. As a way to get my thoughts and feelings on paper. I was growing in my relationship with Jesus like never before, and it became a way to process through scripture.

And soon, it became a LIFELINE- absolutely necessary to my well-being, to my sanity, to my growth spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

It became where I would run when I felt the world crashing in on me. It became a way the Holy Spirit moved in my heart. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing about one particular thought, and landed about 34,897 miles away on a completely different idea. As I read back through what I wrote, it’s evident how the Holy Spirit brought to mind thoughts, verses, and experiences that led me to where he wanted me to be. Each time spent writing, I would walk away knowing God a little more deeply, and as a result knowing myself a little more deeply as well. My journals- I’ve written through 19 in seven years- are the truest form of myself. They are raw and uncensored, and the most accurate picture of my story. Specifically, they are the most honest depiction of my relationship with Jesus, and the seasons of life he has brought me through.

I wasn't kidding. If you look closely, I bet you'll figure out my favorite style of journal. (Hint: Moleskine)
I wasn’t kidding. If you look closely, I bet you’ll figure out my favorite style of journal. (Hint: Moleskine)

More often than not, I’ll finish a journal and start a new one at exactly the appropriate time; when one chapter of life is ending, and another is beginning. If anything, that is proof to me that the Lord’s timing is perfect, that he’s completely in control of my story.. and also that he has a sense of humor. Sometimes, the transition from one journal to the next is easy. Sometimes, it’s painful. I don’t want the chapter I’m living in to end. I don’t want to move on. I’m hurt, or angry or confused with the Lord and I don’t want to go to him. I don’t want to process through anything with him. When I’m angry, when I’m hurt to the depth that words can’t describe, I push him away and the dates between two journals have more space between them. But then, there are those transitions that are hopeful. With a new journal comes new days, new life, a breath of fresh air, blank pages with stories just waiting to fill them. Regardless, how much I’m writing, what I’m writing is the most accurate gauge for me on my relationship with Jesus. I might not know all the answers, I might not know every verse in the Bible, but I am being gut-wrenchingly honest with my Savior.. and I believe with all my heart that that counts for something.

Every once in a while, I’ll read back through old journals. It will make me laugh, bring me a profound sense of thankfulness and remind me of pain so vivid it brings me to tears all over again. But most of all, it gives me faith that God knows what he’s doing with my life, with all of our lives. He is an incredible author, and a wonderful storyteller. And that is what motivates me to write. I write to find a place of peace, rest and truth with my Savior in the midst of a chaotic world.

I write to remember the faithfulness of God.

I hope this little piece of my world helps you remember too.

I’d like to know.. What helps you remember the faithfulness of God? What is the thing you turn to that helps you process? How do you find peace and rest in the midst of chaos?