I am afraid you are about to spin out she says.
This friend of mine. She tells the truth, the whole truth and always the truth. She can’t help what she sees, and she just wants to let me know. I am headed perhaps for some black ice and I am about to spin out.
She wasn’t talking about my epic road trip. She knew at the time that I was inching along, but that is not what she was talking about. She wasn’t that worried about me making it home. She never doubts the homecoming, it is the state of the journey she is concerned about.
I am just afraid you are about to spin out.
I received the email because my car was inching along at a snail’s pace, my phone attached to a local mechanics guest wireless. Normally, I am pretty good about not checking my phone on the road, but the road was really more of a parking lot. I promise, it wasn’t hurting anyone.
She was right. She usually is. It is this book that I wrote, that needs re-written, that won’t let me go, that won’t let me forget. It is this advice that I keep being given from no one and everyone about platform building and blogging regularly and branding and making space and time like I can somehow conjure those things if I just had the right recipe. It is all the noise that I can’t. stop. hearing. It is that if I close me ears I am afraid I will miss something.
I’ve been spinning my wheels for a while. I don’t really know how to let my foot off the gas and I have been spinning my tires even when there really isn’t anywhere to go. My frustration has been leaking into my life-like that terrible burned rubber smell. Even after the spinning stops, the smell is still burned into my nose. Creative frustration is like that for me, it tinges everything else.
In the car, with the crazy synthesizer mix tape we were listening to on repeat I asked God to show me something, about my creative process, about this journey I am on, about the ways He is working.
Some people commune with God in nature, and others through quiet time and meditation, my sister most often hears God through song. I’m not picky about the ways God speaks to me, but it is most often for me in daily struggles, in mundane situations. It turns out, for me, all ground is Holy. Even the ground I am doing everything to get off of, is the place where God is interested in meeting me. Probably, especially
I asked God to show me something about myself, about the metaphorical black ice I too could tell I was screaming toward. I needed to get home in more ways than one. Two hours later we got stuck on a hill, and a man told me that I better turn around. He told me that the time wasn’t right, that there would be a truck coming through in the morning and I needed to park myself in a safe space for a minute and wait for everything to re-group.
I’m pretty sure I already knew this about my creative life, that the time isn’t right, that I need more space to re-group, that I need to stop and rest for a minute and just wait some things out. I say that I already knew this, but I for sure wasn’t acting on it. Instead, I was putting the pedal to the metal, sending chapters to my critique partner, attempting unsuccessfully to burn the midnight oil as I stare at the screen and decide that writing a book was the dumbest decision I have ever made. Not having the guts to admit that to anyone, not even myself.
I asked God to tell me some things about this creative journey of mine and He told me to turn around and wait it out. To go get some coffee and find shelter in this storm. I think I was ignoring Him, I think I decided I would rather burn rubber and try desperately to get up this hill myself.
Waiting. I am terrible at the waiting. At the not yet, at the in between. That is the thing about letting God go before you, sometimes He doesn’t move when you want Him to. If God is going before you, the only thing left to do is follow. Let me tell you, you don’t always agree on the pace. I suppose this is the part is the part where I talk about how sweet it is and how special this time is, and maybe I will get there eventually, but currently, this waiting feels about like sleeping at the Home Depot and hoping for free and mediocre coffee.
It is scarcity again. It seems to always come back to that. I am afraid that if I go back for shelter, that by the time I get out it will be too late. I believe that there are only so many opportunities and if I don’t go get mine, that it will never come. I believe that there are only so many stories of dreams come true, and if yours just did than I am less likely to get mine. I need to be the first in line, because one day the dream river is going to dry up.
It is just so freaking hard. The waiting is, but it becomes desperate when I believe that the scarcity is true. I’m just sort of waiting, on the time, on the distance, on the words to come, on the door to open. I am waiting because it is the only thing to do, really. But I am also waiting as an act of faith, that I believe in a God who does not withhold good things for me, that the things I do matter, regardless of how many people see them.
It is the waiting that is the hardest part, but the obedience that is the most important part.
When we got back on the road there was a different man on the hill. He had me roll down my window and told me confidently, “soft like a whisper.” (Incidentally, my friends have been fighting over this man on the off-chance that he is single. So, if you know the man in a yellow ski jacket and glasses who was helping people up the hill on Holcomb Bridge outside of Park 83 apartments, and he is single, please let me know.)
Same hill, different time, different advice, better circumstance. It was time. Soft like a whisper. Easy does it Abby.
I think this post might be a mess. But I recieved a prompt I couldn’t ignore from a community I love. If you would like to join us there is always room.
I think waiting is acted out faith….. faith manifest. It is tough and it is hard to tell it’s value. I am sure if God has you waiting and you wonder if its time to stop He will push you up that hill soft like a whisper. Those whispers are easiest to hear when you are still.
I feel you. I have fought off some sense of scarcity as well. I teach Economics. I try and tell my students how scarcity is not really an economic fact. That the art of Economics is an evolving one. One big discovery: new cheap and safe fuel for example could totally change the sense of scarcity and the relative valuation of all things. Discovery and consequent shifts are coming. Much in the world will change again, soon. And such will draw new people to the forefront to lead and develop and fill in all the new spaces that come to be. And to help us stay sane in all the shifting.
Your voice is gaining what it will need to be heard in that season as help. I can hear it growing in something so much more important than volume, timber, the sound for the hour.
I don’t know much anymore. But, this I do. Timing is every damn thing.
this is not a mess, Abby. No way is it a mess. This is from your heart and from God’s heart, too. Thanks for it.
Waiting isn’t doing nothing. It is like listening. Both are active. Sometimes a very active person forgets that waiting is active. Happy waiting!
Abby, I have read this post several times as I have come back to your site. You are still waiting. I just wanted you to know that I am still praying for you, for your insights, for your energy, for all of the good things that your are. I am not confined to bed as much as before, so I don’t pray as much, but I do remember you in my prayers in this time of waiting.
Not a mess at all. Quite coherent, and an important message.
Waiting…there is a scene in the Tom Hanks HBO production of “Band of Brothers” in which an American paratrooper is killed when he throws a grenade into a German strongpoint, and follows it too closely.
Having had experience with such things, I can say that waiting the five seconds or so for the fuse to burn down is unbearable. The adrenaline is so high, a second seems like an hour.
(It’s a phenomenon called ‘slow time’; if you’ve ever been in a car wreck you may have experienced it.)
Waiting on a fuse, or waiting on God’s timing, requires a cold shower of logic.