what keeps us stuck

For the past few weeks I've been spending at least an hour a day praying and meditating, trying to understand more about God and about myself.  One of the things I've realized is that I have patterns of thinking and behaving that keep me stuck and, if I let them take over, make me really miserable. Here are some things that I think can weigh us down.  In the comments section, let me know if you've struggled with these (or other issues), and how you've grown or changed.

1) Competition

So here's the deal.  The Invisible Girls launched in April 2013.  There are other authors who published that year who have already launched their next book.  And I have a second book contract, but in spite of my best attempts, I haven't been able to complete the manuscript.  The story's just not ready yet.

I need more time to think and reflect and meditate, and more time to just live my life.  I mean, maybe the reason I haven't finished writing the story is because it hasn't happened yet.  I'm heading to Togo, Africa, for 3 months, and maybe the story happens there.  Who knows.


Recently, I realized that maybe writing is like the acting world -- there are some actors who churn out a movie a year and there are others, like Daniel Day Lewis, who only do a movie every 4-5 years.  (But, by the way, he was the only actor to ever win an Oscar for portraying a president.)

Comparing ourselves by arbitrary markers -- like the time it takes you to write a book, or the number of homemade meals you make in a week, or the number of followers you have on Twitter, or the length of your hair, or the size of your thighs -- and then using those to be jealous of others or insecure about ourselves -- well, it's just so ridiculously unhelpful.

Instead of comparing myself, what if I practiced contentment?



2) Criticism

When we compare ourselves to others, it often makes us feel worse about ourselves.  But sometimes when we compare ourselves to others, it can make us be hyper-critical.  The same thing happens when we compare the world as it is to our expectations of what it should be.

The narrative this creates in our head is not helpful.

We look down on people who get worse grades or have frizzier hair or drive a rustier car.

We huff and puff if everything's not just so -- if there's traffic or if the server forgot to substitute hash browns for a side of fruit or if our friend cancels our coffee date at the last minute or if another mom's kid throws a fit in the cereal aisle at the grocery store or......well, you get the point.


It's not helpful to be critical because it makes me self-centered and it doesn't accomplish anything good.  I also realize that when I'm critical of others, it means I don't understand the grace God has for me.

So I wonder, what would it mean to experience -- and then demonstrate -- grace instead of judgment?


3) Control 

I'm super self-sufficient.

Here are just a few for-instances.

I camped by myself in the wilderness for 4 days.

I have traveled across the country and around the world by myself.

When I got discharged from the hospital (where I'd been for a month with pneumonia after I finished chemo), I took a cab home from the hospital instead of calling a friend.

I am used to being in control, and I'm used to making things happen.  I've been able to do a lot of great things by being a Type A, organized, determined, caring person.  But the problem is, sometimes in all the "doing," I don't have a great posture towards God.  I tell God that if he wants to make a contribution, that's cool, but if he doesn't, I'll make it happen anyway.


And although it seems like the easiest way to live, I don't think it's the fullest way to live, because I'm not in relationship with other people, and I'm not abiding in God.

Isaiah talks about waiting on God and renewing our strength like eagles. God doesn't call us to flap our wings and use up all our energy until we're exhausted; he calls us to wait with open wings and, when he's ready, to catch the gust of wind and rise with him.

So I wonder, What would it meant to live life by faith instead of force?  And what would it mean to practice dependence instead of control?


Thoughts? Comments?  Anything resonate with you?  Have you struggled with these issues or with different ones?  What wisdom have you gained?