“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?”
I know Psalm 27:1 well, and maybe I should just post that with a little hopeful picture of sunset or set it into a colorful meme. But that’s not quite the snapshot of my soul these days.
That’s why I don’t post a lot online. I want to be honest, and so many of my daily thoughts tend to be sarcastic or cynical or worried or frustrated. Who wants to read that? Why should I spread those negative feelings to the rest of the world?
Afraid? Anxious? Yeah, I am. I believe the words of the psalmist when he says the Lord is my fortress and protects me from danger. But my faith still has a long ways to go. I always seem to be standing on the precipice of uncertainty. I’ve been that way my whole life. That’s what made me a writer.
Last week I had lots of story ideas. I woke up in the middle of the night with a plot about half the country quarantined and in military lockdown with an out-of-control deadly virus. The Western United States. And a man from the Midwest has to journey to the Pacific coast to bring something there. I don’t know what he brings, but it’s something important.
Maybe I’ll write a portion of this story every day. Blog it. To do something creative and give people at home something to read.
I quickly shot this idea down. My work hasn’t decreased. I write from home, so my projects still exist, and my ability to write is still there. I have a few more distractions now—three young girls to be more specific—but other than that I’m still super busy.
I started to think about why I really would want to write some sort of story like that. To dwell on the issue of a virus impacting the country and people suffering and being in quarantine. Do I hate myself that much to want to add anxiety to my soul? But I realized anxiety is the very reason I want to tell that sort of story.
To let it go.
This is why I’ve always written, and why I continue to write. To take stuff inside of me and in some way exorcise them on the page. To state them out loud, to own up to them, and to try to deal with them in some sort of way.
Perhaps one of the most obvious and intense examples of this is The Solitary Tales, the ode to my teen years. A combination of high school love mixed with a demonic town. Ah, yes. It’s a great series. And I think it was my way of trying to grapple with the four high schools I attended.
Near the end of the series, the main character, Chris Buckley, thinks this:
“We ache and we long and we worry and we fear and we laugh and we soar and we fall and get up again.
We all hurt.
It’s what we do with it that counts. It’s how we move on in life with it.”
I still believe that now almost a decade after writing those words. And I still know that writing is a way of trying to figure out what’s deep inside of me, what I’m afraid of, what I’m hoping for. They are offerings to God.
Bono of U2 says that songs can be prayers. So can stories and poems and blogs and journal entries.
The Psalms are full of lots of prayers consisting of hope and joy and anger and fear. I believe in Psalm 27:1 in these unsettling times. I like how The Message recites this passage:
“Light, space, zest—
So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
afraid of no one and nothing.”
Zest. Now that’s the word I’m looking for this week. I hope today and the coming days, you see God’s zest in your own life and heart.