Your 40 Days

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I have Writer’s Block. I peck at the keys, but it is unproductive. To move forward, I need to regroup. In many ways, this is what Jesus was doing when he retreated to the desert. After his baptism, Jesus needed to take a long hard look at what kind of messiah he was called to be.

Jesus was driven into the desert by the spirit. He needed to back away from the immediate pressures and determine where to go, what to do next. It wasn’t until after this period of seeking self awareness that he was prepared to launch his public ministry. To get beyond writer’s block, I need to find my own “desert place” = a place free from everyday distractions. It’s during this quiet time that I seek self-awareness, when I can relook at my values, priorities, and goals before proceeding.

Self-awareness involves understanding who I really am, what are my unique gifts, my strengths, and my blessings. It also involves recognizing my weaknesses and limitations. To be self-aware I need to know my goals and priorities. Only then can I examine my current work and lay out future plans by objectively comparing them with those internal standards and values. In the desert, Jesus used fasting, prayer, reflection, and meditation to connect with God. To break free of Writer’s Block, I might do well to try the same process. At the very least, I wouldn’t be madly snacking away my frustration while I wait in vain for an inspiration. I might meditate on those needs that drive my behavior and shape my writing. Self-esteem, affection, belongingness, achievement, self-actualization, power, and control are commonly named needs, but only a few are really central for any one person. I must watch that none of these get between me and God’s message, for that’s when my writer’s block really sets in. Fully human, Jesus had to deal with these basic needs, too. Luke tells us that the devil tried to tempt him with offers of power and external possessions. Fortunately for us, he resisted and was able to show us how to love and serve God with all our hearts, souls, and might. Jesus went in to the desert to foster self awareness, not self esteem. Self-esteem is a one sided view, important to personal image, but imbalanced. Without self-awareness, it can become distorted into a false sense of self importance and an inability to cope with failure. If Christ were only seeking self-esteem, the devil’s temptations might have been more successful. I have to remember in my writing that it isn’t my success I’m seeking. I’m not the master creator, only a simple worker. My words are only one of God’s tools. When I remember that, writer’s block starts to fade away.

We are called to enter into the forty days of Lent to develop our own self awareness, not to boost our self esteem. If we remember that, we should each be able to get through our own variety of writer’s block.

Linda Crowley