This is the final week of a six week series designed to help you ask deep, enriching questions that lead you to become more and more whole, more and more who you actually are in the world, and more and more comfortable in your own skin.
Each week, we’ll swim in the mystery of a unique question, designed to help you see your actual life with more clarity. Each of these questions are taken from Paula D’Arcy’s work, particularly Gift of the Red Bird: The Story of a Divine Encounter and Waking Up to This Day: Seeing the Beauty Right Before Us. Paula D’Arcy’s hard won wisdom has helped me immensely. The six questions are:
- Which lesson is life bringing me?
- Am I burying my pain?
- Am I overtaxing my body?
- What did I pay attention to today, and is that focus fruitful?
- Am I creating a life that is nourishing, or one that undermines me?
- Am I secretly clinging to something that distracts me or weighs me down?
You can read the previous weeks’ posts here. Let’s dive into the last question: Am I secretly clinging to something that distracts me or weighs me down?
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I have hesitated to write this particular post, because I don’t want to come off as a needy, desperate-for-approval writer who isn’t happy with how his book has done since its release into the world. Which is a problem, since that is the bare-naked truth. (What is also the bare-naked truth is that even as I wrote those words, I became aware that I am hoping that my raw honesty in this post compels you to share it with one billion of your friends in the hopes that they would all buy my really great book).
Desperate? Self aggrandizing? It is those things and more! There aren’t enough adjectives in all the dictionaries in all the world to describe my writer martyrdom.
Nevertheless, since that embarrassing confession is the truth, and because I believe evading the truth eventually kills good writing (and souls, for that matter), I am telling you about it.
And you may react with a “Well, at least you got your book published!” And if you are having that reaction, you are right. I should be happy with getting my book published. But I’m not. There. More truth. My guess is it wouldn’t be enough for you either.
I am secretly (well, now not so secretly) clinging to the hope that my book will become a runaway bestseller, and that I will get flowers and chocolate from Elizabeth Gilbert and Paulo Coelho, and will be lauded by the Patron Saint of Fame, Mr. Paul Hewson himself. I have checked and rechecked my Amazon sales rank, like a helicopter parent smoothing down the runaway cowlick on his runaway son. I have compared myself to other authors, some of whose books are selling better than mine, and some of whose are selling worse than mine.
None of that makes me feel anything other than angry and helpless.
Which is why I’m writing this. I need to come clean about how I am clinging to an outcome over which I have no control. It is stealing my joy and my creativity, a greedy thief that leaves me empty-handed, bereft of any ability to keep creating, keep writing, keep sharing these words and ideas. This thief is undermining my ability to joyfully imagine what else I might write. It is weighing me down and convincing me I’m less than, not enough, and that my career that is just beginning is almost over.
But here’s what is also true: Today, I leave for a three day writing retreat where I will sweat, pace, smile, panic, cheer, and type my way towards my second really great book. And yesterday, I signed a contract with someone (me paying her) because the two of us are going to create an event about God and life and gender and joy which we simply cannot NOT do. And I am going to keep leading the beautiful community called Genesis, the church a few of us started two years ago, which is exploding with such vibrant life right now it is staggering.
And what about you, my friend?
Is it possible you are also secretly clinging to something that is weighing you down? Are you exhausted from all the energy it takes just to tread the water? Is it sucking the life from your soul? Is it taking you away from what is essentially you?
If you are, notice it. See it. Then, make a heroic attempt to throw it overboard. You weren’t made to babysit your disappointment.
My friend Bob Stromberg boomeranged some of my own words back at me a few days ago, when I really needed to hear them. Perhaps you need this message today.
Get back out there and keep creating. We need what you make!
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I host a weekly podcast. I wrote a book. I have a website. I am the pastor at a great little church. I am sometimes available to travel to hang with your tribe to help you all become more you. And yes, I do Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Oh, and if you’d like to stay up to date with my writing and events and such, you can subscribe to my email list. There. We’re all caught up.