four words i learned this summer

This past summer sapped me of my creative energy.

I didn’t think it was possible, but it happened. And I know why.

In April, the project of moving my parents’ business from Washington to California culminated in one of the most intense weeks of my life to-date. I have never worked so hard, either physically or mentally, to make something happen. I was chin deep in the technical, mechanical, organizational part of my mind; and I needed every related faculty to make it happen. It required a kind of grit I never knew I would need, and certainly never thought I even had. I essentially collapsed internally afterwards, around mid-May, and didn’t scrape myself off the proverbial floor until about a week ago.

I didn’t start getting worried about my lack of creativity until August, when I still hadn’t written any new songs and was struggling every Sunday I led worship. But—worse than that—I didn’t have much of an opinion about it. I was just so tired. Thankfully, the Spirit is not stunted or stopped when we have those moments; He still worked, I just missed some of the rich moments. But it was one of those weird times, where I often thought, “I should be worried about this. I’m not. And that worries me.” But, as with all things, it was absolutely meant to be. It brought me face to face with myself. I had to be honest about where I’d quietly begun storing up my purpose and worth, and forced me to lean on God in the silent darkness of uncertainty. What an incredible blessing.

This past summer, in the drought of creativity and uncertainty of my family’s situation, I learned to say four very important words. We don’t say them often enough, because we are deceived by the familiarity of our day-to-day activities. We become comfortable, capable, confident. And we forget how completely dependent we really are. But we can always come back to the truth, simply by saying:

I can’t do this.

The beauty of that statement is that it is always true. You only think you know what you’re doing, when you do that thing you’ve done your whole life. I thought I understood the mechanism of songwriting: I didn’t. I thought I understood where my creativity came from and knew how to keep it active: I didn’t. I thought I had a lock on where my worth came from: I didn’t.

God will honor this admission of inability. Every. Single. Time.

I have never once been disappointed or left hanging. Even better than that, it has brought me closer to Him and His endless depth and breathtaking warmth of affection for me. It was almost like, once I learned to say it, He said cheerily, “And, now, I can actually use you, my love.” Oh, to be in His love. I am learning to gladly admit total incompetence to be in His love. Funnily enough, incompetence is our constant state. We just don’t see it. But He does, and He is ready, waiting—He died—to carry us over the gap of our weakness. It’s where the real work can happen.

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed and I will do it.”

Isaiah 46:11b




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