Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Art of Creating and Destroying Excuses

     I am a master at procrastination and avoidance.  In fact I have not looked at this space for more than a brief moment since my last post in October.  I confess to allowing fear and denial crowd out my ability to come up with anything of value in this space.  All sorts of “valid” excuses fueled that particular brand of crummy procrastination, manufactured in the bad neighborhoods of the mind.  It was fueled by the sort of excuses that kept me guiltily slinking past my computer even refusing to look at it for days. 

Stop creating excuses!
     Let's face it when we need an excuse, it is amazing how readily we can supply ourselves with something to fill in the blanks.  Any thing will work for an excuse when you are avoiding something.  That "anything" can also be backed up by wholehearted and equally ridiculous evidence.  I need a quiet house is one of my favorite worn-out procrastination excuses.  It is true enough that our house is NEVER quiet.  The only quiet that lives here is available for the over-exhausted or the unlucky victim of some planned mischief by resourceful boys behind closed doors.  This excuse holds water right?  I had myself  convinced it did when in one of those abnormally quiet moments I discovered my late grandmother's antique sewing case ransacked and all of the pins cut in half with a pair of discarded wire cutters.  "Of course I can't sit down and make time to write!  Look at what happens when I am preoccupied with something else!"  However, that isn't what really poked at me under the blanket of my flimsy excuses as much as the discovery that my ten-year old had more creative determination to do what he loves than I did for my passion.  While I was coming up with excuses about why I couldn't breathe life into writing, he had found time and a way to stealthily work at his.  In fact in under an hour he had not only ransacked the off-limits sewing case, but had also managed to tear erasers off of his sister's pencils, cut somebody's shoe laces, steal off with a pack of matches, and dismantle all of my coveted pens in order to construct killer blow darts for warding off marauders and bedroom intruders.  He was determined to create something against all of the odds and under the threat of punishment and confiscation.  Oh yes, excuses indeed!  Mine were holding less water by the second.  

     So as it goes when you are doing your worst at avoiding something out of plain old cowardice, I had to come up with other excuses.  As always the bad neighborhoods of the mind were more than willing to come up with a fresh round for me.  "You can't write.  You just think you can.  No one is interested in what you have to say.  Look at all of those creative, cute, savvy blogs out there.  Why is one more or one less blog in e-space going to matter?  You really don't have time to do this.  You need a real job.  Nobody with a real job has time for that.  You are too slow.  Look how many unfinished writings you have.  You are supposed to be educating your children, not dabbling and messing around with pursuits of your own."  On and on and on it piled up.  One big stinking, smelly pile of crud my heart was all too willing to accept from the negative spaces of my own mind.  

We lock our dreams away with fear.
     This went on for a few months until I considered myself completely cured of the "writing bug".  I brushed my hands of it and went about writing on the sly via my phone and kindle in social network land.  I wasn't interested in writing, but I was doing it while I was telling myself I couldn't.  That nonsense had been put away again with sparkly snow-globes and locked down for another moment in life when there might be more time and money with less chaos.  Then the gentle nudges from God began.  Did you ever catch those?  Ironically enough I started to see that every excuse I came up with, He was lovingly countering for me.  No time to pursue a passion you can use for good?  Look at your son letting nothing get in the way of his.  No ability?  I will use multiple people at random moments and in various modes to tell you that you SHOULD be doing this.  You are already a writer.  No money?  Is that what you are writing for, really?  When was money ever your motivation for doing or not doing anything?  You shouldn't be selfishly pursuing your own interests as a mother?  Now, tell me how you go look your daughter in the eyes and tell her to NEVER, EVER QUIT or belt out "Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart," with your son who begs you to turn up the radio because that is his favorite song.  Excuses, indeed!

     The truth is that I AM afraid.  I am afraid to write something meaningless.  I am afraid to write something that will be untrue or lead another astray.  I am afraid of being a hypocrite.  I am afraid of trying and failing.  I am afraid of rejection.  I am afraid to take that leap of faith and never let go of my dreams because falling seems like such a long, long way down.  I already know how awful it feels to leap only to feel the impact of crashing.  I am afraid writing makes everything inside of my exposed heart leak out all over the place.  It uncovers the depths of myself and makes me vulnerable.  Writing is impossible for me to do without facing all of my demons and fears.  I have been packing and unpacking those for years.  All of my excuses have been driven by one vehicle braking and sliding across a treacherous road of black ice.  Fear.  The absence of love and the seed of all of our failure to try, to love, to sacrifice, to give it our very best no matter how many times we fall down or need to get back up.  

Toss your fears into the fire!
    We all have them.  A big stinking list of excuses as to why we can't or shouldn't or even won't do something.  Why we can't or won't change.  Why we can't face that fear.  Why we shouldn't dream that particular dream.   We can point to our long histories of falling down and getting back up only to fall down repeatedly.  We can argue that it doesn't make any difference at all in the world or ourselves.  This is what Satan wants us to do.  To feed into the tiny seed of fear he places in the dark neighborhoods of our minds.  The more you visit those neighborhoods, the more you feed and water the seeds he so cunningly sneaks in there.  Before you know it, those tiny whispers of fear have taken root and grown into monumental, life-choking weeds that will consume your hope and steal your dreams.  Don't give those seeds room or time to grow in you, friends!  As soon as you find them in yourself, do not be afraid!  Don't run from them or think that closing the door on them will keep you from having to deal with them or face them.  Do what you must, boldly, and WITHOUT hesitation.  Look at them inside of yourself.  Turn on the light and have one good, hard look at them.  Be brave enough pick them up without clutching them too tightly to your fragile heart.  Write your fears down on paper, or a ribbon, or shout them out to the wind.  Then let them go.  Let them float away or get carried out to sea with the tide.  Toss them in a burning fire instead of dragging yourself or anyone else through it.  Just do NOT let those fears stay inside of you!

    I am going to do something with my writing I should have done from the start.  I am giving all of it up to God.  I am certain, based upon past failures and experiences, that I can accomplish nothing on my own.  I have failed so miserably in the past and fallen down so many times along the way that I know I need Him for every breath and second of every day.  I am going to listen to the nudges and the signs He has lovingly placed on my path.  How about you?  What will you do?  Continue to visit those neighborhoods in your mind that are full of fears and excuses?  Or do you want to take them by storm with the courage of light and love?

Fly with the dreams God placed inside of your heart!
Original photo credit:
     These are the whispers He is filling my heart and soul with.  Change and fly!  Do not be afraid.  The past does not matter and cannot define you unless you give it room to.  Let it go.  Surrender it like I have been asking you to do.  Let me take over and fill all of the empty spaces and neighborhoods that are left behind.  Breathe deeply and let it go.  Give me that space to fill with new light and more love than you can possibly imagine.  I am sufficient for you.  I will give you more than you dreamed would ever be possible.  My dreams for you are even greater than the ones you can ever dream for yourself.  Good-bye Fear!  Hello Love!

Walk with God.
Shaunda Eck