I have nothing to say. It’s been this way for weeks. Nothing.
I took a hiatus from writing this summer to focus on a lot of life that was happening. With my nose to the grindstone, I unwittingly drifted into a creative paralysis.
What does a writer do when, for weeks, there are no words? When there is only blank space?
For me, dense fog creeps over the sun and my thoughts turn dark. The landscape no longer boasts contrast but dissolves into gray like endless winter days with no visible distinction between snow laden clouds and frozen earth.
In this wasteland, sound carries. A whisper is enough. In my wilderness, the first voice to speak is always shame. Ha! So, you thought you could write? Well look at you, now. Nothing! It was all a fraud. YOU are a fraud!
Feelings, like obedient dogs, search for thoughts to follow. Indiscriminate in their affections, they seek only a master. More often than I care to admit, my feelings have dutifully submitted to shame because the voice is familiar.
So, like a devoted beast, I once again found myself trailing behind shame – following the voice that leads back to the cave. That place where, although protected from the elements, there is no light.
Damp. Cold. Isolated. Safe. In this cavern, my faithful friends, Endless Effort, Fear, Pride and Deep Sadness welcome me. Encircling my soul, they silently sway in unison, intoning a haunting tune. Like one hypnotized, I enter the ancient dance with its well-rehearsed steps. Surrendering individual expression, I find a strange comfort in the drone of their united voices that allows me to internalize my insufficiency. And time passes.
Although safe and familiar, life in a cave will eventually come up wanting.
At some point, from a place deep inside, a vague sense of boredom began to strain against my passivity. Like one waking from a trance, the drone emitted by the cave voices began grating on my nerves. Honestly, where WAS the off switch? Do I REALLY want to be this safe?
Faith stirred. A small cry, yes, but it was enough.
What came next was entirely unexpected. BAM! A snowball smacked me square in the face. What?!! Who did that? Laughter drifted playfully into the darkness. And I was fully awake.
A friend, unwilling to leave me in my despondency, had walked up to my fear and defied it. Planted directly in the middle of the gray, he broke the spell. Compelled by love and moved by faith, his friendship gave me courage to laugh at myself and silence the voices.
Faith, welling from another Source, then took over and challenged me to stride straight into the shadowland. To explore the winter tundra and fear it not. For in it there is wonder and truth and discovery.
Your words might be silenced and your efforts insufficient, the Voice whispered, but by faith there are no limits to what the WORD can do. It will always restore life.
Don’t be afraid of the empty because I can fill it.
Shame is the fraud, you are my precious child. My light will expose shame’s lies and my Truth will set you free.
And the gift? I am the One who distributes the gifts. And, I am the One who makes them grow. Dark and light are the same to me. I am in both.
Will you trust me? Will you come out and play? For you are my beloved and my grace is sufficient.
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” –Vincent van Gogh
Tamara Carpenter is part of Newsong’s Board. You can read more of her writing on her blog: tamaracarpenter.com