I just wrote a post for my Routines for Writers blog called “Hard Times.” I mentioned some of the things that have been stressing me out lately and that have kept me from writing much. It's hard to feel good about yourself as a writer if you're not actually writing.
But it's important to remember that “hard” times aren't the same as “bad” times. Life is cyclical and there are always situations that are more difficult than others. I told John today that I can handle all of our stressful situations one at a time. It's having to go through all of them at the same time that drains me of strength and motivation.
One thing I've learned over time is that gratitude is bad attitude prevention. This morning, for instance, I was so darned grateful for a good night's sleep that I woke up happy! The birds sounded beautiful instead of like a too-early alarm. When I'm stressing about how to get from “stop” to “go” on a hill at a traffic light driving a stick shift for the first time in years, I remember how incredibly grateful I am for this car – a gift from amazing friends of ours!
When I stop and thank God for all the needs he's provided for us, I get a lot more hopeful about the future. We have a great apartment, in a beautiful area, and it was the second cheapest one we found! We have had so many friends loan us cars since we got back in the States, and now we've been given a car! When one car broke down, it was the day the movers came so we only had to unpack a little to find clothes and other necessities to make it through! A new co-worker shuttled John to and from work, and I could walk to a grocery store!
Yes, the exclamation points are on purpose. If we don't keep track of what's going right in our lives, we risk getting overwhelmed by what is going wrong. Hard isn't the same as bad. Look at the paragraph above again. Hard times, but nothing bad.
I wish I knew whether this comes through in my writing. It's important. I'm passionate about seeing the good side of things, of looking for – and finding – the blessings in life. My sister helps handicapped kids find mobility and self-worth. I write “silly romantic novels.” It's hard not to compare. Sometimes I think if I believed, really believed, I were making as big – though different – a contribution to individual lives and the greater good, I would be so motivated to work hard that I'd be putting out two to three books a year.
It's not bad to not fully believe in yourself and your work, but it is hard. However, I absolutely, positively believe that God has a perfect design planned out where each of us plays a critical part. Which part are you? A gear, a wheel, a spoke, a washer? I think I'm a bolt, one of many. I help hold things together, bring other parts together, give added strength to a process. I can see it when I'm talking to people, hanging out, emailing. It's a lot harder to see in your work. I guess that's where hope and faith come in.
And that's not a bad thing.