Writer's Break: Fasting from Words
Richard Bach once said, "If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they're yours and if they don't, they never were." What if that applied to dreams?
I've known what I've wanted to do my whole life. Writing came as easily as breathing, so it was no surprise to me when I wrote my first book, a solid 367 pages, at the age of thirteen. I published my first novel at 23, and spent the next several years working odd jobs while writing on the side. My next three books came out one after the other by the time I was 28.
My ex-husband and I had a plan - he'd work and support us financially while I spent the next year doing everything I could to write and market my work. If, after a year, I wasn't making the same amount of money writing as I was working part time, I'd go back to the secular workforce. That was September. Less than two months later he moved out, and six weeks after that we were divorced.
I thought long and hard, prayed even harder, about whether or not I should go straight back to work or not. I was gaining momentum getting my writing out there, but was struggling to see the financial return just yet.
How long was I supposed to wait? How long could I make my savings last? I was doing everything right... why wasn't my work selling like it used to? I started to get angry with God.
I wrestled with the Lord being Elohim - Creator. He created me with this gift, passion and zeal for writing. Why would He give such a gift, provide me with some sales, and then leave the well dry? Why would He let a passion burn, move me to spend thousands of hours writing and researching and rewriting only to show me a vast wasteland resulting from my work?
James 4:1-3 says, "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and you do not receive, because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions."
My passion for writing had become so much part of who I was, I didn't know who I was without it. I am a writer, but I am so much more. It's one thing to know this in my mind, and an entirely different thing to believe it in my heart. I know I can't be the only one out there who has felt this way. I realized I asked God for good things, things I knew He wanted to give me, but my heart hasn't been in the right place to receive it.
Rather than asking for the sake of enjoying and sharing my gift, so much of my writing has been done with a heart to earn a place in God's. "If I write this amazing story, one that really leaves an impact on people's hearts, maybe then He'll be pleased with me." Intellectually I know this sounds absurd. My heart, however, still hurting from the damage done by so many relationships in recent years and those long ago, struggled to rest in the unrelenting love of God.
I want, more than anything, to receive what Paul prays for the church in Ephesus: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might, that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places," (Ephesians 1:17-20).
To grasp the knowledge of him, to know the hope, the riches, the immeasurable greatness of his power... more than anything just to know my Father. The one my heart cries, "Abba" when I weep, and who shows me beautiful sunsets and love in the form of hidden rocks on a hiking trail. The one who tells a stranger to pay for my mission trip to Honduras in a few weeks, and who tells a friend to give me a gift that reminds me every day I am more loved than I know...
My gift and joy of writing is from Elohim, but I am fairly certain I've taken a good gift and turned it into a shield from the very Giver. Because of this, I've made a decision to help me draw closer to the Giver. Regardless of whether or not I write another book, or another blog, I want to know the One who gave me such a gift.
For the next 40 days I am fasting from writing. There will be other elements to this fast that are between my Father and I, but I share this aspect of the fast for several reasons:
1. I need to know I am as loved and precious, honored and valued without the gift as I am with it. I can't know that if I'm not willing to give up the gift in the first place. I encourage anyone else who is leaning on something they own, a talent, a job or an addiction, to fast with me as well. Join me in drawing near to the Father. If what you use is a good thing, give it to Him and trust Him to give it back when you're in a better place to steward it wisely.
2. This will be my last blog for the next several weeks and I want to give my faithful readers a heads up as to why nothing new has posted! March 9th will be the start of the next blog, which I find highly appropriate as it's the Friday before the anniversary of my baptism.
3. I would love to hear your stories of challenges and successes on the journey you take in this fast. I'll share what God has done in those forty days in my next blog and I'd love to hear what God has done for you and through you in your time as well.
I invite you to join me, but a fast is a very personal experience between you and the Lord. Whether you do it for forty days, twenty-one days or just for a single day, it's up to you and the Lord. I'm choosing forty days for several reasons:
1. Moses fasted for forty days and nights when he went up to Mount Sinai and came down with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). He fasted, and received words from God to give to others.
2. Isaiah fasted forty days and nights after fleeing Jezebel and it was after his fast that he heard the still, small voice of God telling him what to do next (1 Kings 19:8). I have been struggling to hear the Word of God in what to do about my writing. Whether it's something to give up entirely, for a time, or whether He's simply going to do a miracle in the financial department. I want to be able to hear His guidance.
3. I can do anything for a day, even a week. Forty days carries a weight unlike anything else and will give me the opportunity to determine the difference between false surrender and false humility from the real stuff.
I don't anticipate this being easy - but I do expect God to be faithful in responding to my fast. I expect breakthrough in my understanding of His love for me. I expect a renewed perspective and deepened faith. I expect it to be difficult, and I expect it to help me know Him better. Whether or not I ever write another word again, I want to look into my Father's eyes and be able to say, "I'll praise you anyway."
Many go through writer's block, and while I certainly know that frustration, this is quite a bit different. I call it a writer's break. Voluntarily stepping back from the act of writing for the sake of drawing nearer to God. I'll journal and continue to post on social media on occasion but expect the next forty days of writing to be fairly dry.
In the meantime, I encourage you to get a copy of one of my books to keep you company.