When we get discouraged, it can be hard to remember if we are, in fact, doing the right thing. Were we supposed to take this path? Were we supposed to turn right instead of left back there? I am here to tell you that you are not alone on this journey!
Original post published 5/2010
This may be rambling, so we’ll have to see where I go with it–at the moment, I’m not quite sure.
There are times in life when we know absolutely what we have to do. Times when the Lord speaks so clearly, guides so strongly that we have no doubts. We recognize His hand, His touch, and when we obey, we feel His blessing.
Until we don’t. What do we do then?
I’ve come across a lot of devotions and really beautiful essays by some kick-butt believers on this subject–and none of it really helps when you’re actually in the doldrums. Without wind in your sails, you’re just paddling along, and having someone spout some lovely lyrics doesn’t always help and certainly doesn’t keep your muscles from screaming. Right? So what do we do?
Right at this particular moment, I’m not there. But one of my dearest friends just talked to me last night about how her doctor diagnosed her with moderate depression. This didn’t totally surprise me; just made a few things click, like, “Oh, guess that’s why you said you weren’t eating . . . or ever leaving your house . . . or . . .” Still, I’m one of those that think often times “depression” is over-diagnosed. Not that people don’t have issues, just that drugs aren’t the cure-all for them. And this friend feels the same way. She told her doctor, “Thanks. Now that I know this isn’t something to brush off, I won’t brush it off anymore. I’ll pull myself together.”
She also realizes she can’t do it alone. She was telling me this at Bible study, which marks one of the first times she’s gotten out to a church function in months, even though every time I talk to her, she says how she needs it. She’s been going out every day and making sure she’s eating a balanced diet. She’s praying and talking to her friends.
Will it “fix” her? I don’t know. But I know she’s doing the right thing.
But what about the problems I and my writing friends face so often? When we have one success followed by score after score of disappointments? When we know God called us to this career, when we followed His open doors, and somehow ended up here–with abysmal sales numbers and no direction for the future?
In those moments, it’s hard to believe that we were ever right to begin with. Maybe we shouldn’t have followed this path, maybe we made a wrong choice somewhere along the line. We’ve got these plans that seemed inspired, but is anything really going to help?
I don’t know. I really don’t. I think maybe sometimes God leads us to these barren places because we’re not ready for the bounty. I think sometimes it’s to teach us to rely on Him. I think sometimes it just happens because that’s the way of the world–and in those times, it’s not our part to question his leading to begin with, but to put our hand in His, close our eyes, and say, “If it’s your will, let this cup pass from me. I really don’t know how to deal with it. But still–not my will, but yours be done.”
I’m not sure about the Right way to handle these times. But I know that every time I’m in them and cry out, “God, please! Send me something!” He does. Has it been huge contracts and best-selling numbers? Um, no. But it’s been something just as good, if not better. It’s been people who let me know I matter, that my words matter.
Time and again we’re told that publishing is, when it comes down to it, a business. True. But writing is not. Writing is between the author and God, between the reader and God.