These last two weeks I fully intended to finish that painting I started so I would be able to show you, but I didn’t. I would like to say that there was a good reason for this, but there isn’t. I procrastinated. I found many other things to do instead. I even found other paintings to start and work on.
This morning, I was going to get up early and finish it. Well, that didn’t happen either. So here I am thinking about procrastination instead. It made me think of the verses in Romans chapter 7, where Paul is talking about the law and sin, our human condition. In verse 15 he says, “I do not understand my own action. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” And again in verses 18-20:
18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Now you may think this is a bit extreme for procrastination, but it got me thinking. Why do I find myself procrastinating? What am I afraid of? What fear is my ego obsessed with now? Hmm. The fear of failure and what others will think of me and what I do, keeps looming over me.
I liked where I had started with the painting and I didn’t want to mess it up! Therefore, I started a smaller “practice” piece. I also wanted to work on taking a video as I worked. So, I tried that out on the practice one as well. (It will take more practice to get that right. It is hard to see through my hand what I am doing in the video.) I have attached the “practice painting” which actually I like how it turned out. And I have the tiny bit more of the one I am working on – you can see what it is more clearly.
I tell my students to play and practice and not to worry about getting it ‘right.’ Trust the process of where it takes you. It would be good to listen to my own advice.
Is procrastination bad? Whenever I let my fears rule me, letting my ego put up its defense and safety nets, I am hiding my true self even from me. I am not trusting God, but relying on myself. I am working too hard to get it all "right."
And I fail. Fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Isn’t it odd that when I acknowledge and work through my fears, they let go of me. For me, it is also taking a step further, an expectation to receive and be open to what God is sending my way. Trusting the process, letting go of my agenda.
If I was to say that I can do it on my own though, I would be untrue to the Holy Spirit who is nudging me and giving me the courage to see and face myself. With Paul I say, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord!
Can I learn to trust the process?
Do you find yourself procrastinating? What are the fears you are running from when you procrastinate?
Over the past few weeks, I have been stewing about scripture to select for the upcoming Art, Vocabulary of the Soul Retreat. It has been a slow process. As I think back over the last few years and every time, it usually is a slow process. I read the Bible and I listen to the nudging of the Holy Spirit, I wait some more. I talk to others and come back to it. I listen to the stories of some of the participants coming and I wait some more for the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I am waiting for the peace that comes when it is altogether.
As I wait there is a battle going on inside of me, with my inner critics vociferously taking in my head. What if I get it wrong? What if I can not choose something that goes together? What if everyone hates it? What if I fail to listen when God has nudged me? I don’t want to wait, and listen. I want it solved and ready. It all feels a bit like crashing waves, violent and powerful battering the peace I desire.
Paul writes in Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…"
These are valid fears and feelings. It is my ego, or as Paul talks about it in Romans, my flesh, that condemns me. It condemns, because when I am relying on my self I cannot live up to the ego’s standards. But praise be to God there is another perspective. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The way past the inner critics is to acknowledge the fears and then turn the perspective. This isn’t about me.
Later in Romans 8, Paul wrote in verses 15-16, "the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children."
I am God’s daughter; I belong to him. In that perspective I can look past myself and see. Who is God gathering together, and what does He want to do for the weekend? Even if this is not always easy to do, to let go and trust the process. As I trust the process, I am turning myself over to God, and trusting my Father. I am trusting that he will meet me here as I prepare, that the people he wants to be there will be, and that he will meet with each person coming. Trusting the process is letting God lead me as slowly as he chooses to, and not racing ahead on my own. After all, is it slow because I get in the way?
For all of that I am excited for the retreat, I look forward to seeing what God will do in each person there. God has shown this time after time that He does meet each person there and amazing things happen every time. I look forward to seeing what he will do this time.
Our numbers for the retreat are complete. The scripture is selected and I can now get excited for the retreat. Please partner with us in prayer: as we each prepare our hearts to hear what God has in store for us and as we participate in the weekend – June 24-26.
When I read the old testament – particularly the prophets I see this God with an achingly Big Heart yearning for his people to “turn to him and live” (Amos 5). God doesn’t ‘need us,’ but he does long for a relationship with us. He went so far as to die for us.
I was thinking of this as I read Psalm 13:1 – “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Does God ever wonder that about me? The following “conversation” is the result of that wondering…
How long, my daughter, will you turn away from Me and go your own way?
When will you trust Me with all of yourself?
Don’t you know how much I long to hold you as I walk with you?
I am right here next to you; don’t you see me? Can’t you feel my presence?
When will you let Me lift the burden from your shoulders?
Let me enfold you in My embrace. I have loved you since before you were born. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. I know your past, I know your present and I know your future.
Won’t you let go and trust me?
Oh my Lord and Father, I want to trust you, I do. I just don't know how to let go. Why do I keep wanting to take control?
Oh my child, it is fear that keeps you from trusting me. In order to trust me you need to let go of your fear. You hold onto it like armor, yet it is full of holes and lies. Your fear and your ego tell you that only you can solve or achieve what is before you. This is not true. Open your eyes to My truth, I am the way, I am your life. Walk with me. Let me show you who you really are, whom I made you to be.
I am afraid, Lord.
I know. That is the point, my child. Let me hold your hand. We will do this together. Trust Me.
How many times have you done this, Lord, given me the courage to walk into your trust, holding your hand? Too many to count. Yet I have to be reminded to trust each time. Oh how stubborn I can be. How do you have patience for me?
Oh my child, I am patient because I love you and I delight in in you. You are mine and I will hold you fast.
Take my hand.