Thursday, November 10, 2016

Open Honesty: Hard Days

I sit at the piano, plucking things out, trying to find something creative, but all I get is a monotonous run of the same-ol', same-ol'. Come on. I've arranged hundreds of songs! Surely one more won't be the end of me!

I dig into God's Word... only to come up dry. Shouldn't I find something -- something -- to encourage me for the day?

I stare at my computer screen. One hundred words. This is all I need to write for my novel today. But it is hard. Nothing is coming. And I get further discouraged. (By the way, THIS makes 100 words -- yeah, not much is it?)

The examples can go on. Whether it is with projects, home-life, friendships, spiritual life, or church issues, we've all been there. Days can be hard. Tough. Dry. Discouraging. Days in which we want to do nothing but surround ourselves in a fat layer of self-pity and mope. Because after all, writers are supposed to write, aren't they? If I'm in God's Word daily, I should get something out of it daily, shouldn't I?

When I was having a hard week recently, the Lord had to put some things into perspective for me.

1) I can't claim verses such as 1 Peter 4:12-13.
When I truly think about my "hard days" in light of Scripture, I am not suffering for Christ, per se. Sure, it may be an attack from satan, if I am truly striving to do something to follow Christ. But I'm not spilling blood because I'm standing up for Christ. I'm just frowning because my day isn't going smoothly. There is a big difference.


2) I'm not the only one struggling.
It's easy to think that I'm the only writer out there who can't get words or ideas to come. Even when I know that two of my author friends have admitted writing had been hard for them too. On spiritually hard days, I tend to forget the friend that just texted me that she's also having some spiritual struggles.

3) My struggles aren't the biggest ones out there.
While I'm sitting there, tempted to mourn about lack of ideas and inspiration for my pet projects, there are several families in our community who are morning the tragic accident that killed three family members and sent seven to the hospital in critical condition. This is just one instance I know of. Many others around me are facing life-threatening issues. I am nothing but a selfish wimp that wants things to go my way.

4) My focus is on ME.
The magnifying glass is on my problems. They're more acute, more painful, more serious than the problems anyone else is having. Which often leads me to not having "room" for other people and their struggles because really, "Mine are more than I can handle."

5) I need to get beyond this.
The beauty of realizing points 1-4 is that the Lord then shows me ways to overcome them.
-  One of the greatest ways is to pray for others. When struggling spiritually, pray for other believers and their spiritual walk (even if I think they have it all together). When words don't come, pray for other Christian authors who are striving to share the Gospel. When I'm tempted to pity myself, pray for people with real problems -- big problems -- that only God's grace can help them through. The list of people and needs I can pray for are much larger than my life.

- Another very important thing is to "count it all joy" or "in everything give thanks." Seriously. I stop and start listing things I'm grateful for. I could never count them all... so by the time I get through a dozen or two, wow! I'm really blessed.

You know what? I have had some puddles to wade through, but when I think realistically -- when I turn my focus away from myself and to God and others -- my days really aren't that hard after all.

How do you get through hard days? What helps turn your focus away from yourself?

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