onfession time: when I hear or read about someone having a book contract, or a book being published in the next few months, or a manuscript due to their editor in a week, or anyone in any way making a living as an author, I am jealous.
I want to be purely happy for those people. They have worked hard to get there and are working hard to stay there. From what little experience I have, I know the peculiar mixture of joy and agony involved in writing. I know it is not dreams and cotton candy. It is work.
But instead of being all, "Good for you!" I'm all, "What about me?" I can't help it. I get a knot in my stomach, the hint of tears in my eyes, an ache in my bones.
I want that.
I want writing to be my home, the place I return to daily, the place I work out my life. I want it to be comfortable and uncomfortable, as only writing can be. I want to dance with the muse and wrestle with the words. I want to have the luxury and limitation of writing as a job.
And if it were a reliable source of income, hey! Bonus!
But writing is none of those things for me right now. It's just a side note. It's an infrequent vacation spot.
And so I smile begrudgingly for the income-generating writers, take a breath, and work to trust.
I work to trust that I am where I am supposed to be. To "...consider Immanuel, the with-ness of God, right where we are, not where we wish we were instead." And, truly, I am good with where I am. I'm not unhappy.
But I am a wee bit afraid. Because in the midst of the contentment in now, there is a lingering fear. What if this is all there is? What if my dreams only ever remain dreams? Will there be a time for the writing? A time devoted to making art?
Will there be time at all?
I had a dream once, of singing. Except to me it wasn't a dream. It was a reality. It was going to happen. I was going to put in the time and the work, and I was going to be a professional singer.
Except, as you may have noticed, it didn't happen. Singing is now something I still enjoy, but I do it only occasionally, and not as well as I once did. And I miss it.
There's a long story behind all of that, but the point is, I'm afraid that writing will become my new singing. I think that fear is where the sadness and the jealousy come from.
But instead of giving in to the spiral of doubt and self-pity, I point myself back to the with-ness of God. I remember the Christmas Child come to dwell with me, and reach deep for his trust and contentment and patience.
And I pray, "Oh God, gather me now to be with you as you are with me.
Soothe my tiredness;
quiet my fretfulness;
curb my aimlessness;
relieve my compulsiveness;
let me be easy for a moment.
O Lord, release me
from the fears and guilts which grip me so tightly;
from the expectations and opinions which I so tightly grip,
that I may be open
to receiving what you give,
to risking something genuinely new,
to learning something refreshingly different.
for claiming so much for myself
that I leave no room for gratitude;
for confusing exercises in self-importance
with acceptance of self-worth;
for complaining so much of my burdens
that I become a burden;
for competing against others so insidiously
that I stifle celebrating them
and receiving your blessing through their gifts.
O God, gather me to be with you as you are with me.