September 11, 2013

to go beyond

Poetry. Architecture. Writing. Music. Life. People. Friends. Faith.

Those seen above are words continually being cycled and recycled through my train of thoughts. New ideas, possibilities, opportunities are all swirling together, confusing what I have always wanted with what I am beginning to understand I really have wanted underneath it all along.

To sacrifice my treasured ideas, to go beyond the lands I am familiar with, to climb up and over the walls that have held me in... it is a frightening stage of my life, challenging, befuddling, even painful. I have begun to wonder if I truly know myself.

Questions are being posed in my life for the first time, and I do not understand nor dare venture to blindly guess the answers.

The vagueness and metaphorical ramblings I am using are the only way I know to explain my feelings without declaring to the world subjects better left unspoken.

Here is one thing I can mention freely without such secretiveness: a friend of mine has been challenging me by his mere presence to examine my writing with more purpose and reflection, with more diligence and intelligence. I honestly feel outright stupid in his presence, and feel as though all of my writing is under his adept scrutiny. I fear his criticism because I am afraid to hear my writing is not good enough. I am afraid to have demands made of my skills to alter the treasured drafts of my novel into something I did not intend it to be. I know I am able to trust my friend's word; he is honest and encouraging, and most certainly very intelligent, indeed! What I fear is more specifically that after all of these years of writing, rewriting, growing, revising, and perfecting will be thrown away.

    Writing is like any other kind of artwork, always to be interpreted differently because each and every interpreter is different. And I honestly have been tired, under-slept, and altogether irritable this past week, which has made all aspects of life more challenging. I selfishly want to keep my writing to myself. I do not want fault to be found in it. I know fault exists. However, in my pride, I wish to find it first on my own before submitting it to criticism. Forgive me, my friend -- you know who you are -- I need a little more time to sort out my feelings and seek peace from the Lord before I allow you to read my novel.

Another part of this bowlful of spaghetti (which is the tangled mess of my life) consists of my prideful desire to not let myself be outdone by others. Juvenile but true. I am surrounded by artists, musicians, writers and all manner of skilled people by whom I feel challenged, or more accurately, threatened. I know I am not nor ever will be as talented as they are, and I am frustrating myself by trying to meet their level of skill. It is a fruitful process, however. I am beginning to understand who I am. And now, I am learning not to fight to be like others, as though that would be fulfilling, but to be myself; to pursue God's will for my life and use my talents for Him rather than to attempt to please others. And the Lord is helping me with my pride, piece by piece. For example...

Two nights ago, my sister and I had a dear friend over. We lingered outside whilst she was beginning to leave, and ended up lying out on the grass in our backyard, stargazing amidst the night fog and reading aloud Isaiah chapter forty. I have yet to dare admit it to her, but she is one of the brilliant friends of mine about whom I have been struggling with jealousy. She does not understand how talented she truly is, nor how humbled I feel whenever we spend time together.
    Anyway, I was being a coward that night. I looked up at the stars, so many and so distant that I could never dare to count them all. I felt so small, so pointless underneath their soft glow. I imagined them singing to the Lord, twinkling for His glory, and I forced myself to cease from my self-pity. Forgive me, Father. I prayed and I prayed with a heart full of sorrow. I hate my pride and selfishness, and I hate this haunting jealousy and the competitiveness that is destroying the joy in my life.
    As my dear friend began to leave -- s
he did not know I was struggling with these awful feelings, and was saying such sweet things about not deserving my and my sister's friendship, and we agreed -- well, she was in her car, just starting to drive away when she reached out her hand.
    I had to make a choice. In that little moment, hardly longer than a breath, I considered my many fears and especially what I feared most:
I feared being always less skilled than she; I feared my selfishness; I feared losing this opportunity. These were my options: I could take her hand, pretending there was no struggle of jealousy in my heart. I could let her hand remain extended until the car rolled out of reach, leaving her thinking there was something barring me from extending my full friendship. There was yet still a third option, and this was the one I chose. I reached out and took hold of her hand, inwardly crying out 'forgive me'!
    This is the same friend who has said that she always reads my blog posts. She is busy today, and will continue to be so for a while, but I hope she finds the time to read this. I do ask your forgiveness, my dear, dear friend!

And of course, I hope we all are remembering the meaning of today's date. 9/11. It represents the dreadful, painful experience of the Twin Towers, serving as a reminder to not waste a moment of the precious time we have.

So, these are a few of the trials in my life at the moment. The presence of the aforementioned friends around me is being used to challenge me to do nothing; that is, to instead of attempting to be as good at everything as they are, to remain humble, which is in many ways a far greater challenge.
    Challenge accepted.

Lord, by Your grace, help me be content, to be patient, to go beyond...

                                                                                   In Christ alone,

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