Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blogging for Lent

While I have read that many people have decided to quit blogging for Lent, whether it be because they want to spend more time in prayer or blogging has become a distraction, I have decided to start blogging again. I suffer from the perpetual "writer's block" condition in which I feel compelled everyday to be a writer, to express that which rests inside of me, to work out in the written word these ideas about Christ and his Church that swim in my head, while at the same time neglecting to actually physically write, because I am too tired, I am uninspired, I am not in the right mood to compose anything of value. In other words, I set my expectations to a goal that I consciously remind myself is achievable but subconsciously find daunting and difficult. I find excuses not to write because I am afraid that it won't be good enough. As long as the promise of writing remains in my head, as long as the future of a completed work remains untried yet still a possibility, I can maintain a level of anticipation, even pride, in what I tell myself will come in the future. After all, the proverbial blank page is full of promise. Of course, as I am now finally admitting, if I do nothing but think of the future, the promise of the empty page remains, well, empty.

Now that I contemplate this reality, I wonder if this same fear of incompetence is partly what made me steer away from writing as a possible career so many years ago. As a child, I always wanted to write; my mother has drawers full of my childish tales and poetry. I even entered a few contests in my junior high and high school years. But when the time came to choose a career path, I went a route that no one would have expected: I chose to be an Architect. I won't say that I regret this decision (through my studies I have learned much more about the world that only buildings), but there has always been a longing in me to come back to writing, not as a hobby (which I have kept, though not consistently), but as an effective instrument of speaking a Truth that I have come to know through my faith. I was one of those children who was always expected to do well in school, to be at the top, and striving to be really good at something (or, perhaps ungraciously, to beat other people at something) became more a mode of operation rather than a series of goals. There was a part of me that wished to step away from this sometimes imprisoning system when I decided to study architecture; this was a subject to which I had never been exposed, and it required quite a bit of creativity and subjective interpretation, not the objective rule-based system of science, math, and grammar I could so easily grasp. I was almost destined to not be at the very top of the spectrum of designers. Perhaps this was a relief to me, to be rid of the pressing expectation, or maybe simply the challenge of it was thrilling.

But, the truth is, a career in writing would have achieved many of the same things. Literature involves the study of philosophy and theory (often following the same path of architecture), is inherently creative and subject to opinion, and would most certainly be a challenge to my normal rule-based way of thinking. But, I now realize, writing was too personal, too close for me to risk failure. My desire to be at the top of a subject so dearly important to me prevented me from committing. A fear of being mediocre, simply adequate, or, even worse, of realizing that it would be impossible to meet my dream of being published, infiltrated my conscious decision-making and guided me toward something more "sensible," something I knew I could make a career with as long as put forth my normal strong work ethic. I wanted something that was interesting and worthwhile, and yet something I felt comfortable laboring at day to day without feeling the need for it to be the very best 100% of the time.

This, of course, is not to say that I have a desire to be the best writer anyone has ever known. In fact, I wouldn't mind if no one who read my work ever knew my real name. I simply have come to know that writing--more accurately, expressing the Truth--is so utterly important to me that I have trouble facing that it will fall short. Even as I write I become disappointed in the inadequacy of my own words to describe not only how I feel but the truth of the world. Of course, I will never be able to have adequate words. Only the Word himself can truly express the Truth. But he uses us as his instruments to bring other to him. And if I simply sit still and do not use my talents (no matter how mediocre they are) then I will be useless, empty, and utterly unfulfilled.

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