Hope in the Queue

printersWhile typing and printing off documents, my printer suddenly decided to morph into la-la land. Electronic devices are so wonderful – until they don’t work. Then we’re stuck.

Frustrated, I tried and tried to print the last document, not realizing what was happening on the other end of electronic cyberspace. After rebooting, unplugging and still not printing, I turned everything off and quit for the day.

The next morning, when I turned on the computer, the printer decided to resuscitate itself. It spewed out page after page of documents that had been hiding in the queue.

Eventually, it stopped – but not before I added several inches to my pile of recyclable scrap paper.

The electronic world sometimes imitates life.

How often do we pray and pray for something, wait and wait longer while heaven seems to exist in an introverted silence?

Nothing happens for weeks, months, even years. Our prayers seem stuck in the queue of God’s waiting room. Then suddenly – an avalanche of answered prayers, all bunched up at the same time.

We gasp at the range of unexpected blessings and rejoice again in the assurance that God loves us.

As a writer, sometimes my words get stuck in a creative queue. I’ve never experienced a complete writer’s block, but I do know how to procrastinate and avoid sitting in the chair, hoping by osmosis to produce something memorable.

What I’ve discovered, though, is that the discipline produces its own fruit. Even though I may slug through a paragraph or two, if I keep going, keep making the words happen – then suddenly – the creative muse kicks in and I’m in another world for hours. That’s when writing is most fun.

So what can we learn from our moments stuck in the queue?

Persistence is still a worthwhile virtue.

The best writing, the purest answers to prayer, the most productive days evolve as a result of self-discipline. When we give it our best and keep at it – over and over – day after day – that’s when we eventually produce good fruit.

We may not see it for a while, but it WILL happen. Persistence which produces results is one of the key principles of life.

Nothing worthwhile happens easily. When we have to work for it, we appreciate the results and feel energized to persist with even more fervor.

Effective Results Require Patience

Patience and persistence are twin brothers. They sometimes look alike and often require some of the same disciplines to feed them.

But the persistence twin is a process while the patience twin reveals a quality of life.

Patience reminds us to wait, then wait some more. And when we can no longer stand the wait, we dig deep and learn how much strength authentic waiting requires.

Patience is the months-or-years-long battle, waiting for poisonous chemo to take effect and save a life.

Patience allows the preschooler to tie his own shoes even while the school bus honks.

Patience sits beside the Alzheimer’s resident and hears the same questions again and again, then responds with gentleness because it is what it is – a plaque-infestation of the brain and we know Mom cannot help herself.

Patience understands and gives grace when the addiction festers but the victim still tries to recover.

Patience learns through the passage of time because it cannot be hurried and if we want the best results – we must not deny the waiting.

Patience turns off the printer, instead of continuing the process of trying to print – adding more documents to the queue which then wastes paper. Lesson learned.

Sometimes the Best Action is No Action.

For planners and doers like me, it feels better to do something – to hit that print button over and over – to unplug and try again and again.

But sometimes, the cyberspace universe has to get its pixels in order and find its missing megabites. I don’t even understand its language. How then, can I make it do something?

When we’ve prayed and prayed, waited and persisted – yet nothing happens – we can use the prayer of relinquishment.

“Oh God, I can’t stand this, but I absolutely have no clue what to do. Please take over and do whatever you need to do to mend this problem. Please help me to rest in you and trust that you know exactly what’s wrong and what to do about it. I give up.”

That prayer seems so counterintuitive to what we’ve been taught about productivity, but even the Psalmist portrays the same advice, “Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon him; fret not…” (Psalm 37:7 AMP).

Be still. Unplug. Stop trying to figure it out. Don’t worry. Let go and let God salve your weary soul.

If we don’t learn how to be still, then we end up with a heap of nothing – wasted words, frustrated prayers and sometimes – piles of worthless paper.

But if we just let go and let God figure it out, then we return to the task rebooted and refreshed, ready for whatever he has to give us and grateful for the lessons we have learned.

As we wait in the queue for God to redeem this wicked world, we can be certain he does indeed know what he’s doing.

Maybe he’s just waiting for us to trust him so he can finish the task.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

5 Ways to Stall Creativity

When the words flow, our creative juices whet the appetite for more. Writing becomes enjoyable work. But when we have to fight ourselves to keep in the chair and force our fingers to keep typing – then we wonder why in the world we ever chose to do this mammoth task.writers block

Most of the time, when I sit in front of the computer – my fingers just take off. But occasionally, I have to force feed the sentences and that’s when I try to discover what has stalled my creativity.

Perhaps it is one of the following:

  • Lack of sleep. I know some writers crawl out of bed hours before they need to be at the “other” job or they stay awake long after Letterman says, “Goodnight.”

But I can’t do that. If I don’t get my regular eight and sometimes nine hours of rest, I invite sickness, crankiness and all sorts of nasty attitudes. Nay, nay. To be creative, I must sleep.

  • Stress. Neck muscles tighten. Blood pressure soars, and a headache begins to throb. Stress visits through unpaid bills, too many night-time activities when I don’t get the afore-mentioned shut eye or when anything at all happens to affect the car.

In my opinion, any type of car problem equals stress which results in stalled creativity. I find nothing at all creative about oil changes that turn into leaky hoses, bald tires or anything at all that is goofy in the transmission. I might have less stress if I just bought a horse.

  • Wrong Direction. Sometimes we have to write a while to find out which direction the characters want to go, but if we come to a block where nothing is happening and we’re bored with our own words, creativity stalls.

That’s when the writer reverses gears, discovers a new character or resorts to binging on chocolate.

  • Fear. What if no one wants to read my incredible manuscript? What if I write and write and no one ever nominates me for the Pulitzer Prize? What if an asteroid hits the warehouse where all my books are located and obliterates every word that I have so carefully crafted?

The what-ifs with their roots in fear equal stalled creativity.

  • Guilt. So you decided to spend several of your precious hours working on your novel, but life interrupted and you didn’t get it done. Now you feel guilty because you’re supposed to write every day (that’s what they tell you in the conferences) and you haven’t done it.

That monstrous guilt voice overpowers you and stalls your creativity. You decide God probably didn’t call you to write after all, which adds to the guilt because real Christians are supposed to know what God wants them to do.

So how do writers unstall and move forward?

I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out in the next post. Right now, I’m feeling stressed and I need to sleep.

©2013 RJ Thesman