Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lost in Paradise

For the longest time, I used to ask God why I was alone.  I was never one to go out dating random girls, so it would've been easy to single out that fact as the reason.  But the truth was that I didn't have interest in dating anyone I didn't know.  I never believed my future wife would come from a random date - it would be someone I was friends with first.  That's not a knock in any way at people who do the random dating thing - I know people who met that way and have had long healthy relationships.  It works for some people, but not me.

Eventually, Laura came along.  We became friends online through a Christian message board.  Oddly enough, she replied to a post I had made about battling depression, and we talked back and forth for a few months before meeting in person.  To make a long story short, we've been together for almost ten years and have carved out a nice little life for ourselves.  God answered my prayers for companionship.

Another big thing on my to-do list was to get out on my own.  Where I grew up, independent living doesn't come at a reasonable price.  I lived in my parents house for far too long, and I needed to gain my independence.  A series of events in late 2009 led to Laura and I moving halfway across the country into our own apartment.  We've been on our own since then.  God answered my prayers for independence.

After serving the monster that is retail for far too many years, another goal of mine was to find a job where I could be happy.  Of course, I didn't put too much weight into this goal because, quite frankly, most people dislike their jobs.  But when I least expected it, I found myself in the job I have now.  I'm not going to go into detail, but I'm in a position that I actually like with a company that I respect doing something I actually believe in.  After so many years of horrible bosses, heartless customers, and meager pay, my current boss is awesome, I don't interact with customers, and I'm able to pay my bills while still setting some aside for savings. 

Will it last forever?  Few things do.  I'm aware that there's a near-certainty that my current job situation will not last, and I realize that there's a chance I may have to return to the nightmare that is retail employment someday.  But for now, I'm enjoying what I've been blessed with.  I'm doing something where I have the opportunity every day to help people get the best out of themselves, and it can be very rewarding.  God answered my prayers for a job that makes me happy.

My last big goal was to be a published author.  After years of rejections from publishing houses and agents, I finally decided to go the self-publishing route in 2010.  I fully expected to be met with harsh criticism - after all, if the experts of the industry didn't find any merit in my work, how would readers ever accept me?  But my books have all been met with overall positive reviews, showing me that sometimes the best way to reach your goal is to go out and do it on your own.  God answered my prayers for writing success.

In a way, you could say that I've reached all the goals I set out for myself in life.

So why do I feel so lost?

As you probably know by now, it's been almost two years since I've written anything of significance.  It's depressing.  It's aggravating.  It's suffocating.  Every time I sit down to write, my brain shuts down.  I stare at the screen telling myself, "Let's go adventuring!"  My brain responds by saying, "Nope, Nothing here today.  Please try again tomorrow."  I have ideas, but no words.  Images, but no expression.  And it wasn't until recently that I discovered that this dry spell of creativity extends to more aspects of my life than just writing.

I used to do video editing on my iMac that I'd upload to YouTube.  Somtimes they were goofy little shorts and sometimes they were vacation montages.  I loved it, and from what I've been told, others enjoyed my work too.  But last week, I tried to sit down and make a video for my first time in a long time, and nothing came together for me.  I couldn't get audio and visuals to line up.  The program wouldn't allow pictures to display properly and I just didn't have the energy or drive to keep pushing and researching until it was resolved.  I threw my hands up and walked away.

I also used to enjoy recording music.  I've never recording anything substantial because I'm not at all gifted musically, but I enjoyed dabbling with it and seeing what I could come up with.  Lately, I haven't had the ambition to do any of those things.

For whatever reason, my creative juices are shot.  And it's not that I don't WANT to do these things.  I have a ton of story ideas, a few videos I'd love to put together, and I still enjoy playing guitar.  But when I sit down to try to create anything, it all falls flat almost immediately. 

The only conclusion I can come to is that I'm supposed to be focusing my attention on something else right now.  If there's one thing God has taught me over the years, it's that he has a way of taking away or postponing the things I want until I do whatever it is that HE wants me to do.  I'm fine with that - I'm here to serve, after all.  There's only one problem.

I really don't know what he wants from me this time.

There have been times in my life when I've gotten so wrapped up in my own plans that I've unknowingly turned from the path God was leading me down and went my own way.  When I finally realized it and got back on track, God was waiting there to continue the journey with me.  I fear this may be one of those situations, but it's hard to determine when and where I may have gone astray.

I've considered the possibility that taking a break from writing was the wrong decision, but if that's the case, then getting back to writing would be the solution.  That's not working out at all for me.  I also thought that maybe God wanted me to take my writing in a different direction rather than continue with sci-fi/fantasy stuff.  In my last post, you can see my attempt to do that, but it ultimately hasn't gone anywhere either.

I've also begun to think that maybe the direction I'm supposed to go doesn't necessarily have to be a creative one.  Without revealing too much about my job, I'm in a position where I can help people bring out the best in themselves.  It's my job to encourage, develop, and guide others.  Is that my service to God now?  Is my task for God to help people through my position at work?  It seems a little too easy to me - this is what I get paid to do every day.  It doesn't feel like "above and beyond" or anything like that.  But maybe that's OK with God?  I don't know.

And because I know I have critics of religion who read this page, I'm sure some of you are asking "If you claim God talks to you, why doesn't he just tell you want he wants you to do?"  Sometimes God will do that.  But more often, we learn and grow better when we figure out things for ourselves.  If your calculus teacher gave you an exam and then stood there telling you all the answers every time, you wouldn't learn nearly as much as you would have if you'd taken the time to study and apply the material yourself.

Laura says it's possible God doesn't want anything right now and that this is just a waiting period.  God's timing is not our own, after all, but when things come up, I need to be ready to act.  I know this does happen, but is that what's going on here?  I'm not so sure.  I feel like I should be doing something.  And in the meantime, I feel like I'm a useless lump.

I received another positive review of The Fourth Dimension recently, and the reviewer mentioned that they hoped there would be more in the series.  I hope so, too.  I'm sure I'll be back at the grindstone eventually.  But right now, I'm just... lost.

God bless,

Kevin