Do You Think I’m Insecure?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI usually feel pretty good about myself when I wake up—for the five minutes I refrain from looking in the mirror. That’s when the voices start: “Your thighs have more dimples than a Shirley Temple look-alike convention!” they say, or “What kind of eighties-wannabe haircut is that?”

Then I take my older son to school and notice the work-outside-the-home moms, all coiffed and stylish. The voices deride my writer’s wardrobe of jeans and T-shirts. Later, my fingers poised at the keyboard while my trusty cup of java grows cold beside me, I hear the little demons again: “That paragraph stinks. How are you ever going to keep getting published if you write stuff like that?”

When I pass through the living room and kitchen to go to the bathroom, the hisses continue: “The kitchen counter is filthy. And when was the last time you dusted?” By the time I grab a mid-morning snack, I’m already defeated, and it’s only 9:30 a.m.

Sigh.

I don’t know who said it, but I believe it’s true: Insecurity is the devil’s playground. Or maybe battleground is a better word. His weapons attack from every side and inevitably leave a wound.

file3991282945508Those of us who struggle with perfectionism find it especially difficult to remember that we are wholly loved by our infallible Heavenly Father. It’s a constant war to not let the “How do I measure up as a parent/writer/Christian?” questions run away with my emotions—and my peace.

Maybe you can relate. If my hunch is right, a lack of security is epidemic. And let’s face it: We have plenty to be concerned about. There are our figures, finances, future, and families—just to name a few.

Recently, while at the grocery checkout line, I noticed the headline on a women’s magazine: “Eat right, get fit, get organized, and relax.” Who are they kidding? I barely have time to take a decent shower each day, let alone have a perfect body or a spotless house. And relax while trying to keep it all together? Ha!

So I’ve decided to go on the offensive in this war on my thoughts and emotions. First, I’m going to stop letting the world’s standards rule my mind. With God’s help, I will tune into His Word and turn off the chatter from social media, print media, and television. I will bathe myself in His approval and love, knowing that while pursuing good health is wise, Jesus cares more about the size of my heart than the size of my jeans (can I get an AMEN?).

Second, I’m going to remind myself regularly that the career I have is God-given, and He controls the future. I don’t need to compulsively check my Amazon stats or fret about future book contracts. Instead, I must focus on fine-tuning my craft and being a good steward of the gift of words with which God has entrusted me.

Similarly, I can rest assured that God knows I am doing the best I can as a mother to two strong-willed, energetic boys. He’s the only perfect parent, and I can turn to Him in my frustrations and foibles. I can lean on Him and learn from Him, trusting that He will fill in the gaps my husband and I will ultimately leave.

The bottom line is this: when I focus on His kingdom, He takes care of the rest. 

Bit by bit, the whispers of doubt and defeat fade. Peace overtakes insecurity, and I can concentrate on living moment-by-moment in His grace. Microsoft Word - Grace_Race-v2.docx

You know what else? I’m betting that since Jesus was a carpenter, He doesn’t mind a little dust.

(This post was adapted from “Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms,” published by Patheos Press.)

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Creation: The Writer’s Privilege and Calling

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Easter is over. Strands of pink and yellow plastic grass are strewn all over the living room. Painted eggs will be peeled and mashed into egg salad later today. The kids are shipped off to school bleary-eyed, nursing sugar hangovers. I look around at the disaster of a house I just cleaned for company, sigh, and sit down to write.

The blank page on my computer screen stares back at me, cursor blinking at the top. Write. It is time to write. But I am empty, hollowed out, barren. I am still winter, even though yesterday at church, everything around me screamed spring. I look out the window and notice signs of new life. The lilac tree has fresh buds. The grass is becoming crisp and green.

Easter is my favorite holiday. My heart pumps fast every year. On Resurrection Sunday I get caught up in the story of Jesus in spite of whatever else is happening in my life. I can be downhearted, exhausted, bored, or troubled. Easter morning is bigger than my emotions. Easter is always bigger than me. My knees can’t help but bend. As a person of faith, how can I not be moved by Christ’s sacrifice for me and his ability to conquer death?

But today my life is back to normal. I have my to-do list. I’ll match socks at the bottom of the laundry hamper. I’ll make myself something to eat, and take small bites as I wonder where the excitement went, and how it can leave so quickly. I’ll write because of deadlines. It is my work. It’s what I do.

The blank computer screen studies my face, and I think about my feeble attempts to create something from nothing. The book of Genesis comes to mind.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. -Genesis 1: 1-3

And God said… God used words to create the world. For writers, this profound truth is even more precious because we are word people. This is what we love and it is baffling and exhilarating that God used the same method. Creation brought order out of chaos through words.

But God doesn’t stop there.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. -John 1: 1-3

Jesus is the Word in the Gospel of John. And through his life, death, and resurrection, God continues to create. He creates new buds on barren trees in the spring. He creates a desire in a person’s heart. He makes us new creations through faith in his Son. And as his creation, we participate in the awesome privilege of proclaiming Jesus, both with words and in being the word to a world that a lot of times looks everywhere but to him.

And we get to sit down at the computer and play with words. We start with nothing and hope it turns in to something. We have all these words and thoughts and try to put them into some kind of order that will hopefully makes sense, and more importantly, bring glory to God.

It doesn’t always happen but when it does, its magic.

Easter. Through Jesus’ resurrection God makes all things new. He creates. He is always creating. Words are an essential part of how he does it. Doesn’t it just blow your mind that we are in the same business?

So, when you go to write and instead sit, look, start, stop, put words down, and erase, do this: Look outside your window for signs of creation. Look for new life because it is always there somewhere. See fresh buds on the trees as the world wakes up to warmer days and the promise of sun-kissed skin.

When you write, when you create, you participate in something bigger than you. You are emulating your creator, the one in whose image you were first created.

The one who started it all with words.

What a privilege.

What a calling.

I open the window nearest to me, and let the warm spring air in.