“True writers write every day.”
I’ve heard this many times from many sources.
It’s never been true of me. Perhaps I am not a true writer. I don’t know.
Writing is in my soul. It’s how I process life. I write much more freely than I speak. Many times, my thoughts about a particular subject are simply a muddled, vague impression until I actually start writing and then they untangle and sort themselves out in a way that never could have happened if I hadn’t begun writing about them.
But the truth is, these are the first words I’ve written in weeks, aside from Facebook statuses about the sayings of my kiddos and a political soapbox statement or two.
There are some topics burning their impression in my mind, begging me to let them out. I have scolded myself, reminding myself how excited and honored I was to join the True Woman blog team, and how I really need to send in some more posts. And a couple other ministry projects had been progressing quite steadily, until they weren’t.
Because, one day, I just couldn’t write anything. And so began a string of days when there were no words, days when the words that had been flowing freely just faded and lost their sparkle, like a strand of pearls suddenly turned gray. And they just stopped flowing.
At first it felt like a fog had descended. There were no words because I simply couldn’t think. And, although social media and mainstream media prove every day that it is indeed possible for one to write without being able to think, I have not yet acquired that talent. When there are no thoughts, there are no words. And there were no coherent thoughts in me during these days, only a swirling fog of weariness.
There was nothing wrong. I was not sad. I think I was legitimately tired. Not to sound like I’m searching for pity because I love my life and all my rich, colorful hats to wear. But hats can get heavy when there is never a time to take them off, and many of mine are never taken off. So there comes a time, every few months, when I simply get tired. My thoughts get tired. They stop untangling. They stop sorting themselves out into coherent words. And I’m too tired to turn on the screen and try to force them out. So I don’t write.
Eventually, after taking a few days to take off any hats that can be removed without totally upsetting the equilibrium of the family, my mind is rested and the fog clears and I can put the other hats back on. I can read again. I can study. I can think. I can write.
This time, it took a little longer than usual. Because as soon as the fog cleared, God pinned me down and wouldn’t let me go. He started, through a combination of books I was reading and other circumstances, pointing out areas of my heart that have long been hidden in shadow. He shone His light on them, exposing the lies and the idols that had taken up residence on thrones in my heart in the subtle way that lies do.
I suddenly found myself in the midst of a battle, fighting to knock these idols off of their stolen thrones and banish them from the kingdom. One can’t often take a break from battle to write.
In times like this, what I have to say is nowhere near as important as what I need to hear. There were several moments, during these days, when the topics I had filed away started popping back into my thoughts, asking to be written down. But I couldn’t. I can explain it in no other way than that I was restrained. God did not want me to write about anything. My job right then was to seek Him, listen to Him, search my heart, and fight the battle as He commanded me.
“True writers write every day.”
It’s a presumptuous, pompous statement. To imply that if one doesn’t write every day one isn’t really “a writer” is arrogant and dangerous. You see, some days, we have no business writing a word, no matter how many words are screaming to be written. Some days, our words just really aren’t needed, and to add them to the noise anyway would be helpful for no one and harmful to ourselves.
Psalm 46:10 is a beloved verse when we find ourselves in need of comfort: “Be still, and know that I am God.” We use this one often when we can’t understand what is happening but we know God is still in control. But maybe sometimes we need to be still in other ways. Maybe sometimes, we need to learn the lesson of not talking when we need to be listening, of being still to know He is God and using the stillness to know Him more. Maybe we need to learn that there are times we should refrain from adding our voice to the noise.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
True writers write a lot. It’s what we do. But sometimes, we need to keep silence. Which makes us no less true.
I feel the restraints lifting. I still have much heart-work left to do on this particular battlefield, and maybe in a few months I’ll be able to write about a battle fought valiantly and victoriously. But, I know I am free to write again in the meantime. As suddenly as the words stopped, they begin flowing again. But may I never forget to embrace silence in its proper season.