Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blood on the Forehead

“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Gene Fowler

 For months now I have sat down to write, waiting and waiting for something to appear on the page and experiencing a mounting sense of frustration as nothing has come. Sometimes the hardest thing to experience as a writer who relies on the written word for expression is a lack of outlet for what is going on inside of you. There's emotions, experiences, thoughts that need to make their way through your pen but somehow nothing happens when you touch it to the paper.

 What creates an even greater sense of failure is when you know that you are doing all that you can be, all that you SHOULD be to foster and encourage those words to come out and nothing happens. Can I just say that the resulting discouragement can seem insurmountable? To say that this causes one to second-guess one's self, or to second-guess what it is that God has gifted you with would be a gross understatement.
 Not only have I questioned myself over and over again, I have to admit that I have also allowed myself to believe that others are questioning my role and abilities as well.

 “She’s written nothing of note lately, must not be anything left.”

 “That girl is seriously emotional; she probably can’t focus long enough to get anything out.”

 “No, for real though, she’s an emotional circus, she’d probably be more effective if she’d just chill.”

 “Mature Christian? Hardly. Mature Christians don’t make mistakes in x, y, z areas like she has. Repeatedly.”

I know this sounds ridiculous. If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past couple of years you know that it is my emotions and the exposure of them that allows me to write the way that I do. I’ve never hidden this fact about myself. I truly believe that God gives some people a different level of self-awareness than others so that they might experience and examine these feelings in such a way as to gain full freedom from them and to offer His words to others to do the same. But one of the biggest lies that the enemy has ever told me is that people see me as unstable or too emotional to be effective.
I have felt things more keenly than others, I know this and accept it. I have even, over the past five years, gained the ability to control this fact on certain levels and have instead used it to my advantage when it comes to working for the Kingdom. One of my personal convictions has been that I refuse to allow the storms that have come my way to destroy me and that I would never allow them to happen without using them for God’s glory. I’ve done this by being as real as I possibly could, explaining my wayward thoughts and feelings and then applying Truth to them. Learning as much as I possibly could. After all, if no one is admitting these things and then sharing what God has taught about them, we’re all going to be feeling like we live in emotional silos and no one’s going to get anywhere. That’s how I’ve felt about all of this for a very long time.

I can also see, however, on the surface where people may have determined that I’ve always just been a little too free emotionally and not understood why I am the way that I am. I get it. I think it is right here, in this thought, that I begin to lose confidence and begin to allow myself to believe the worst about me. Or rather, I allow myself to believe what the whispers of the enemy tells me rather than the Word. What’s that about being honest where I’m failing? Exhibit A.

Now, this is not to say that I don’t see areas where I do need to mature. Lord have mercy, I see them. I see them and I know that I have to learn even more, dig even more, pray even more that God help me to grow in areas where I am still a spiritual child. I know that there are areas that I need true freedom but I don’t think being emotional is preventing me from gaining the ground that I need to gain. In some ways I feel that it gives me an advantage. I don’t think that having maturity is mutually exclusive from feeling things at a heightened level.

With all of that being said, there’s been a shift in my emotional being that was unforeseen, welcomed, and at times completely confusing to me. A shift that has altered my sense of self in such a way that it’s a little difficult to even understand how I feel at times – something that greatly affects my ability to write and express in the way I’ve always done in the past.

Let’s have some Story Time with Jess:

In December of last year, I was diagnosed with a little something called P.C.O.S., or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This little gem of an affliction has been with me all my life and has gone completely undetected until recently. P.C.O.S. has, among many other things, a notable effect on emotions. It can significantly increase the intensity of depression, anxiety and mood swings. In some cases, these instances of heightened and intensified moods can be debilitating, something that is very difficult to describe or explain to those around you.

For two years prior to December, I was experiencing a deep, dark pit that just didn’t seem like it was ever going to go away. I had received some craptastic news in January of 2014, something that would make anyone feel pretty awful, but would not warrant the depth of my depression or the length of time that it stuck around. I now know why it was as intense as it was (in addition to the physical issues, I know the enemy used this and made things so much worse, trying to take me out of the game completely), and since treating the P.C.O.S. I have experienced a level of emotional stability and calm unlike anything I have ever known before. With my hormones now at normal levels, the swings just aren’t happening like they were. I can think more clearly and handle emotional circumstances with a greater level of calm.

As I said, this is something that I’ve had my entire life and never knew. Those moods and emotions were always just a little more acute than other people’s and never quite understood by anyone, myself included. But the tempest that always seemed to be raging inside of me has calmed and it truly feels amazing. I am coming up on a year of treatment and I cannot describe how life’s outlook changes when your body is no longer fighting you. Or how spiritually irate you get that the enemy took advantage of such a thing and now you’ve come back up swinging like Ali.

But…despite that clearer mind and calmer waters inside of me, writing has been nearly impossible.

This has, friend reader, freaked me the heck out.

It’s like a pipe that pumped out gallons and gallons of rushing water that has dried up to a mere trickle. As though the source of all that I wrote before has been spent.

Each time I’ve sat, pen in hand or my fingers on the keyboard, I’ve waited for the customary rush of words to fill my mind and swirl their way out through the ink or the clicks of the keys. I’ve waited for the swelling of feeling to come up through my chest and into my brain, to make it’s way out through the words that have never let me down and have always, always been my companions.

For the first couple of months, it wasn’t so scary. I knew that I was feeling better physically, and I knew that so often my writing was associated with the darker emotions and sides of life. But I was always accepting of that because I felt it was where God called me to operate in terms of what He was showing me and what I was learning. My willingness to be frank about it and share made those aspects of life less daunting and dark to me. It never occurred to me that not feeling those emotions in real-time would limit me and my ability to write with such abandon as I always had.

So, okay. That’s cool. *knuckle crack* Let’s write about the good things now.

…….nothin’.

Hoooo, did I ever start thinking I was a fool. That I had been misunderstanding what it was that I was supposed to be doing. That I had convinced myself that I had a talent where I didn’t and that I was such an idiot. Of course people are gonna think I’m a spaz. Of course this isn’t what God is calling me to do. Of course I’m gonna look like a total weirdo, flake, imposter!

I’m ashamed to say it’s taken me longer than it should have. It’s taken many, many nights of self-doubt and second guessing. I’ve believed what the enemy has told me, that this isn’t really where God has called me. I’ve let myself believe that others think so little of me because of what I’ve experienced. I’m ashamed, but I’m also realizing that it’s my human experience and my willingness to be used that He is looking for, not some mystical ability to write when things are going tough. He wants my willingness. He wants my dependence. He wants my obedience. I thought I was doing all of these things, but boy, did I ever miss the point. What a simple concept, but one so difficult to embrace and understand sometimes.

Even now it’s a bit difficult to fully explain all of this. Somehow I’ve filled four pages and still haven’t felt like I’ve nailed it. But I just want all of you who have supported me, loved me, prayed for me and encouraged me that He’s not done. That I haven’t got it all figured out but somehow I see the purpose now. I’m not silenced and there’s still a whole lot in here to be real about.