Writing is hard.
There are so many days when despair claws at me, trying to drag my spirit down. As I write, I often think “Man, this is trash. I know people liked my writing before, but I’m probably losing my touch. Whenever I try to make something better, I always make it worse. This story is going to be a humiliating flop.”
These thoughts not only plague me when I write, but when I post on my blog or try to think of tag lines for social media. “Wow, you stink. Everyone’s going to recognize you’re an amateur who doesn’t know what she’s doing. Why do you even bother?”
Maybe you’ve heard these voices too–either in your head, muttered by yourself, or even voiced by a critic or well-meaning friend. When you try something new, you have no place to start but square one. Everyone has to begin somewhere, right? But it’s hard to remember this when you can’t see the beauty and potential in what you make.
Or maybe you’ve heard these voices taunt you about your value or your appearance, telling you that you’re not good enough, that you’re not attractive, that you’re worthless. I don’t think that there’s a soul on earth who hasn’t heard these voices. While our own insecurities no doubt feed these flames, we have to remember that there are evil forces trying to do everything in their power to make us feel miserable and worthless and to convince us that’s what we truly are.
“ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
If a painting is insulted, then who’s offended? The artist? Or the painting? The artist, of course. The painting couldn’t even help its existence. The artist is who turned the painting from a blank canvas into a unique masterpiece. Just like that painting, we have natural inclinations towards some things like writing, speaking, sports, or art. We can control parts of our appearance–our clothing, haircut, makeup–but the vast majority of our physical appearance has been determined by God.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”
-1 Corinthians 6:19
When you insult yourself, you’re insulting your Maker.
Of course, maybe you already know this. If you know this and believe it, but you’re still tempted to talk nastily about yourself, then this section is for you. The very first step in being aware of how you talk to yourself is to seize your thoughts. Be aware of them. Oftentimes, I’ll pass a mirror and think something negative without consciously acknowledging it. Some of my self-talk has become so ingrained, it’s a habit I barely acknowledge anymore. Listen to your own thoughts for a day. What are you thinking about yourself?
The next step is to consciously control your thoughts. You’ve probably heard the saying: as a man thinketh, so is he. Thoughts have a more profound effect on the world around us than we suspect. They can be an amazing blessing or a tool of destruction. What’s wonderful about thoughts it that forming one is nearly effortless, which is also what makes them so dangerous. Our mind is one of the few things in this lifetime that we can have near perfect control over.
Start thinking intentionally. For example, I have a series of sticky notes on the side of my computer I use when I write. One reads: This is a best-seller in the making. Even when I see that, I think, “That’s stupid. As if a work like this could become a best-seller. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.” You know what’s wrong with that? The focus is on me. I’m focusing on my talents (or lack thereof), abilities, and limitations–not God’s.
I do realize that statement is pretty radical. Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on expectancy, rather than expectations, so I was kind of wrestling with myself on whether or not I should even mention that. I’m not sure what God has in store for my novel, but believing that the majority of people who read it will adore it has helped. In the end, I’ve decided to believe that God is so much bigger than any obstacle and that it’s best to believe for too much rather than too little. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, then I know God has a purpose for that.
I not only struggle with insecurities in my writing, but every area of my life, which is why I have a list of affirmations, like: I am beautiful, I am discernful, I am intelligent, I am talented, I am patient. Am I these things? Yes, and if not then I’m going to be. I don’t believe a few of the things I say about myself, but I’m saying them in faith that I’ll eventually become what I say. Of course, someone could say that this is turning the focus back on yourself, rather than God. But how can you praise the painting without praising the painter? I’m by no means saying you should be arrogant. Lately, I’ve come to realize that you can think very highly of yourself, while still being humble. As C.S. Lewis says,
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
Yes, we should think that we’re amazing, attractive, and talented, but we should remember the Source of our amazingness, attractiveness, and talent.
Take your thoughts captive. Think intentionally. And compliment the Painter by complimenting the painting.
In what areas of your life have you struggled with despair and discouragement?