Writing is a funny thing. I love writing. In fact, writing is a passion of mine. I have always enjoyed creatively weaving together webs of words that would leave a reader feeling like what they just read was significant—that it really meant something. Not only that, but writing is extraordinarily cathartic for me. It shapes the way I view the world and interpret truth. It helps me understand myself, and it connects me to my Creator.
But then… sometimes… the words just don’t come. And I sit here, staring at my computer, waiting. Waiting for that spark of inspiration to ignite my mind. Waiting for that burst of energy to move my fingers to tell the story that I am seeing inside my head. But there’s just nothing. There’s no inspiration. There’s no energy. There’s no story.
That’s where I found myself this morning as I sat down to write today’s blog post. It was extremely uncomfortable. “I need to write something,” I thought to myself as the minutes marched by and my time began to slip away. I wandered around for while, looking for an idea—praying for an idea. I started typing out sentences and paragraphs that I couldn’t connect with at all. It just wasn’t right.
I gave up and left for work, having little to show for my efforts. If I was going to post something today—and in my mind, I had to—it was going to have to happen later. I intended to spend my lunch hour working on it, but completely forgot about a prior engagement on the schedule that would make this impossible. Sigh, what was I to do? I was at a standstill.
That’s what life feels like sometimes, doesn’t it? No matter how much effort you put in, nothing comes out and you find yourself at a total standstill. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, and despite your attempts, you simply can’t move. It’s not a comfortable place to be. And it’s not a safe place to stay, either.
I remember thinking about this in the fall of 2009. I was sitting on a large rock at the edge of a small creek, watching the water flow past me. Suddenly, a strange scene near the grassy bank caught my eye. Frankly, it was a dead mouse floating around in the water. The creek had a strong enough current to move this tiny, unfortunate creature along with ease. But the dead mouse had been caught up in a tiny orbit of sorts, and instead of flowing downstream, it was circling around and around in a small inlet of water.
It was a bizarre thing to watch, or to be fascinated by, but I couldn’t take my eyes away. It was one of those moments when you just know that God is saying something important to you—giving you an epiphany that you will take with you into the rest of your life.
The message was simple: when you stop moving forward in life, you die. We’ve all heard the notion that as soon as your body stops growing it starts deteriorating. So this wasn’t a ground-breaking discovery by any means. But there, on that rock, as I sat watching this dead mouse spinning around in circles in the water, I knew that I wanted to live a life that kept moving forward. I knew that I didn’t want to get stuck spinning around in the inlets of life, when I could be riding the current to a brighter future. And I realized how dangerous finding yourself at a standstill can really be.
This morning I could have written something cheap and simple that didn’t matter or didn’t mean anything. Or I could have given up altogether and abandoned the idea of writing a post today at all. But I decided not to do either of those things. I decided to keep moving forward, even though I didn’t have all the answers. Even though I felt like I was at a standstill.
Maybe you feel like you’re at a standstill today. Maybe you have been spinning your wheels at a job that you hate, or in a marriage that isn’t working, or in an attempt to overcome an addiction that won’t let go. Maybe you feel like I felt this morning—like you might as well give up, because time is running out and you’ve got nothing to show for your efforts.
If that’s you, I understand. I know what it’s like to feel like you want to give up. But PLEASE… Don’t give up! Don’t stop moving forward. Even if all you can do today is take one step, then take that one step and leave the rest for another time. But take the step!
I took a step several weeks ago when I asked God to forgive me for letting fear control my life, and decided that I was going to actively work towards total recovery from anxiety. I took a step when I started Braver Than Before and committed to blogging through my mental health journey. And I took a step this afternoon, when I sat down again and started writing this post. And because I took those steps, what happened as a result… mattered.
And here’s what I know. When you take your step—whatever it might be—it is going to matter. You may not see the results right away. You may not see them for a week, or a month, or a year. But every step you take matters. Every step you take is forward movement, and that is a big deal. That is what will keep you alive. And that is what will make you grow.
So do whatever it takes today. Do whatever it takes to keep moving forward. Do whatever it takes to get out of that destructive, exhausting orbit, and start riding the current to a better future.