I read Paddle Your Own Canoe over the last couple of days and I am struck by something I can’t get out of my head:
Just do something.
I’m currently without a day job, I find myself bored quite regularly because of it, and I find myself begrudging the four walls of our tiny apartment. I have more spare time than any adult should have, and yet my creative output has been nearly nil. Now, I will defend myself by saying a large portion of my spare time has been spend getting the web presence for SSEM up and running but that isn’t a good enough excuse as to why my sermons are nearly always done Friday and Saturday, I write something for the blog at best every other week, and I really have nothing to show for the amount of time I have.
I have found myself at this point before. I have tried to force myself to write, which simply leads to horrible and sophomoric writing – much like this piece – that just discourages me. I read somewhere that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration but I find myself even without inspiration. I actively have 3 projects being written, one of which I think it very important for me to finish for a lot of reasons, even if I just delete it when I’m done, and yet most days I find myself staring at the screen, either painfully watching the cursor mock me with its incessant blinking or falling deeper into the pit that is Reddit. Even when I just try to vent to the 3 people who may read what I write here, I can’t do it until my wife goes to bed without me because I’m a 27 years old who doesn’t know how to have an adult sleep cycle.
If you haven’t gathered, I’m frustrated. I can’t find a job that pays and won’t dull my mind, I can’t create because the four walls of the apartment oppress and I can’t really afford to work in a coffee shop, and I can’t minister full-time because I have been found wanting by ten people who barely know me. Working with SSEM has at least given me some actual contribution to God’s mission on Earth but it isn’t what I actually feel called to, even if I am enjoying it. I’m ready to scream, and yet my voice to scream won’t even come out most days. I struggle to even figure out what direction to turn.
And if you are wondering what that does to one’s faith, it isn’t amazing. I certainly have asked myself why God gave me abilities, skills, talents, and graces for ministry, people in my life that affirm those, and yet no outlet to use them for ministry. I’m screamed, hollered, yelled, cried, and sat silently in the shower trying to figure it out. I’ve felt lost more in the last 9 months than I have ever before, and it just seems like I get just enough to just squeak by, both financially and spiritually.
So what? For the strangers who happen upon my blog, you can’t possibly be invested enough in me and my life to care about this. For those who may know me, you already know all of this. Why am I rehashing this crap for you?
The answer is three of the ugliest, poorly planned, and sad end tables/night stands you have ever seen. I built them out of scrap wood using a circular saw and drill. The wood was largely warped, the cuts horribly inaccurate, and the final product shameful for anyone over the age of 12. They are butt ugly, and I mean hairy man-butt ugly.
Yet for the hours that I spent on them, my mind was clear. I don’t worry about bills (which are getting paid), job, or my skills atrophying to the point of uselessness when I’m down in my cramped workspace. I’m just barely passable with a saw and drill and yet I feel good just doing it. I imagine the feeling is the same as a Einstein playing his violin; he certainly wasn’t a master at it, and yet it cleared his mind and gave him great pleasure.
So I guess my major thing is this: just do. Just do something. And I think there is something to doing something that isn’t your major skill set. Yes, I love writing, and it is a labor of love when the words are flowing, but it is a labor, and a portion of my income comes from writing; it is work, and underpaid work the vast majority of the time. I, for a short time, did construction work, but not like this. This is something different. I am creating something, albeit something ugly, of my own design and my own guidance. I am in charge, and at the end of the day, I am responsible. It is mine.
We need to find that thing that clears our head. We need to find that thing that isn’t how we labor and isn’t how we make our living and use it to clear our head. In those moments, when I burnt wood because I’m not great with a saw and split my thumb because my drill slipped, I felt God.
General revelation trumps natural revelation, but natural revelation has its place, too.