This blog hosts more than 600 posts. I am re-posting this revised piece from May, 2014, because I have learned that waiting is a useful lesson for all of us.
I’m learning, in writing and in life, that sometimes we just have to live in the tension.
I am committed to blogging three times a week. Sometimes I wake up and I don’t really know how or where to begin the next piece of writing. How do I get this on paper when I am creating something out of nothing but a scrum of ideas? (In case you are wondering, a scrum is a rugby term for a group of players come together to try to get control of the ball with their feet – something like a jump ball in basketball.) That’s often my issue: how do I get this out of my head and on paper? What’s the process? Persevere? Push on through? Just wait?
I have learned that waiting is not always procrastinating. Waiting is just standing down. Most of us hate waiting. Who wants to stand down? We have an idea or a job or a “thing” and we want to forge ahead, get it organized, follow through, and, often most importantly, move on.
For people of faith, and especially for people who write about faith, living in the tension is about recognizing the Source of the inspiration and covenanting with that Source to stay in tune, in touch, waiting for direction. Like a child who has just planted a seed, we want to dig around in the dirt before it is time. Is it growing? How far along is it? Do I need to re-plant? But the only thing to do is to live in the tension . . . and wait. Though it’s a cliché and not a pleasant one for “go-getters,” it’s all about the journey, not the end product. We can’t make a seed grow faster, and we can’t solve a problem by attempting to fix what we don’t understand in the first place.
But it’s not just about waiting. It’s about recognizing powerlessness and turning the idea or the job or the “thing” (and especially the writing) over to God. We take the step we know to take, surrendering, and then live in the tension.
One morning, after trying to write, I decided just to go back to bed (it was 5:00 AM); I often write in the early morning. That didn’t seem like progress; it seemed like failure. But instead of sleeping, I just lay there ruminating. I realize that a cow’s process of digestion isn’t a beautiful metaphor, but it really works here. I brought up all the ideas I had in my head about the subject and just sat with them, chewing them over and over and asking God, “What do I do next?” After 45 minutes a simple solution came to mind – a way to get started. It was so simple! I wondered why I hadn’t thought about it before. But then I hadn’t waited for direction or surrendered the control before.
In writing, as in life, it’s all about living in the tension – and waiting for clarity.