Truth or Dare... You don't have what it takes....

The blank screen and empty pages stare at me, daring me, accusing me with the truth: 

"You don't have what it takes." 
     "I know I don't." 
"So why do you bother?"
     "I don't know."
"Who are you trying to kid?"
     Pause. "Myself, I guess." 

Just a few years ago, it was open doors and easy sailing. But now, it's uncertainty, fear, attraction to distraction. 
     "What was I thinking?" 
     "Who do I think I am?"
     "Why did I go down this road?"
     "I could stop any time."
     "Who would care?"
     "Who are You?"
     "Are You who I think You are? I'm not hearing You very well.”
     “I’m sorry.

I’ve been in a sort-of self-imposed exile, and am now just emerging to see the light of day. It’s been a difficult 2 months with the “I don’t have what it takes” foolishness prevailing.

It started so silently. I wasn’t even aware it was happening. One day I sat down to write and there was nothing. Nothing in my head, nothing on the page, nothing in my heart. “I’ll try again tomorrow.” One day turned into two, which turned into four, and on it went. An abyss of nothingness. I was stuck in a subtle, slow, slippery, downward spiral. Finding all sorts of good things to do, but avoiding the best things to do. Even if you’re not a writer, chances are you’ve been stuck in some area of your life. Procrastinating, avoiding, distracting yourself. 

Have you heard the saying, “God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.” I’m so thankful. He started nudging me the way I nudge my dog when I want her release something she’s fixed on.

My pastor shared an inspiring message on his 50th birthday about people who sailed the world at 51, swam the English Channel at 60, fostered needy teenagers at 84. I’d been thinking I was too old to start down this new road. How did Pastor Steve know? But then, of course, those people had what it takes. I don’t. Pity party. All invited.

Then a little booklet about Simon Peter arrived unannounced in the mail. I randomly opened to a page with this sidebar: “We need to continually make choices about whether we will allow distractions to seduce us and draw us away from what is most important.” The booklet described some of the distractions as fear, despair, disappointment, and stress. I can add a million other distractions to that list. It went on - “In the face of such challenges, we need to be people of purpose – people who look beyond the distractions that surround us, so that we can run the race of life… Peter’s brief encounter with water-walking was scuttled for a very human and understandable reason. He failed to focus on the Savior because he was distracted by his circumstance. His desperate, sinking cry for help, therefore, becomes a useful warning to us.”

I finally opened up to a few dear well-meaning loving friends who I adore (you know who you are) who gave me truthful advice – but all were excuses to me:
- “You’re so busy.” Yes I am, but so are others who are accomplishing what God wants them to do.
- “Lots of people go through what you’re going through.” I know, but how did they get out of it?
- “You do have what it takes.” I’m still not sure, but so what if I do - if I’m burying it????
But, but, but, but….

And then my friend Susan M. gave me a devotional book that she said made her think of me. It said in part - “Regardless of when or why you stumbled, God wants to pick you up and put you back on your feet. People who never experienced failure usually don’t accomplish much. There’s a certain security in playing it safe. Nothing’s lost, but nothing’s won. They never get out of the boat and walk on the water. Wouldn’t it be better to almost drown and have to be saved, than never to experience God’s power working through you?”

Chip, chip, chip, chip….
God was chipping away at my disobedience. When my kids were small, I’d often tell them, “Delayed obedience is dis-obedience.” And here I was, Miss Disobedience! Wanting to deal with my procrastination, I just kept putting it off! Until tonight. I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “"I write whenever the muse strikes. I just make sure it strikes every night at 9." 

The truth - I really don't have what it takes. And sorry, neither do you. But He does! And He'll do it through us as we yield to Him. "...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6

If you’re reading this, it’s because you signed up to follow my blog, subscribed to the blog, or are a facebook friend. So dear friend, would you hold me accountable? I have 17 posts in my draft folder waiting to be finished. I will share more about them tomorrow, but for now - let's keep each other accountable. How can I pray for you? And will you pray for me? 


Jan Cline said...

Susan, we have all swam in that muddy pond from time to time. I have been dipping my toes in it for days now. Your encouragement today helped me. As much as I want to quit I just have to face another day of writing, even if it's only a few words. My arthritis gets me down and life in general does too, but what else have we got to do???? I love your blog and every time I look at the picture on the heading I smile. It's the perfect picture of friendship isn't it?

CathyO said...

Hi. Good Morning Susan.

Very interesting piece this morning....I have pretty much been going thru the same things
(except not about "writing" ) - thanks for the encouraging words to "pick myself up and shake myself off and start
all over again".............. feels that way sometimes. But stresses and cares for this world and those dear people
God puts in our paths do get to us sometimes and we feel overwhelmed and totally inapt to reach out to one more
person, one more need, one more anything! Thank you for this "godly pick me up"....just what the "Great Physic an"
ordered :) I will hold you accountable if you promise to hold me accountable too. I need that now more than ever.
The numbers on the calendar remind me daily (as does the mirror) age isn't just a number, its a reality, and we need
to make the most of today while we still have it. Love you Susan, as always you are an inspiration to me.
Remember, "we can DO ALL THINGS through CHRIST who strengthens us"

in HIM, cathyo

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Thanks for the encouraging words. The picture was found and photoshopped by my daughter. I'll pass along your kind words!

You're so right - "pick ourselves up, shake ourselves off, and start all over again"! Love it! Let's indeed be accountable one to another dear friend.


Susan M said...

We all go through this at times. The time is short and the enemy is working overtime. Thanks for sharing your words of encouragement.
Susan M.

Donna Bolster said...

Beautiful message, Susan. I'm glad you're back, and now I hope you'll be the NIKE writer...JUST DO IT! I read a quote from John C. Maxwell. It says, “The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the thing, that's when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.” So my friend, again, JUST DO IT! I'm praying for you! (Really) And I'll check in with you from time to time. Love you.

Rhonda Schrock said...

I hear you, dear girl, and I'll pray for you as the Lord brings you to my mind.

We just went through the book by John Ortberg, "If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat." It has much the same message.

God will give you light and strength and exactly what you need - Remember? We CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

So glad you're back!

Mary N. said...

OMG, I truly needed to read this one, this has been a battlefield in my mind, I love how God works in mysterious ways and how he uses people such as yourself, to reach out and touch people with your writings and poems and stories, this one truly touched my heart. thank you, and yes I will pray for you.

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Thanks so much - for sharing truth with me and for your encouragement.

Great motivator! Just Do It!!! It's easy to say that, harder to live it. But once you Do It - that thing you've been avoiding - it becomes easier the next time to Do It. Now I have to Keep Doing It! LOL

One step at a time - Easier to focus when we take life that way. Thanks for your prayers.

I had a feeling that I wasn't alone feeling this way. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Marja said...

What a great post Susan! I recognize every sentence, every second of your writing :) I've been through every stage (so far) and then one day I read in John C. Maxwell's book Failing Forward: If you don't fail at least 5 times a day, you're not risking enough... haha, that made me feel better. Failure is the price we pay to get ahead.
You can and will do it Susan, if this period was only to write a great post like this, it would be worth it.

Cheri Bunch said...

So happy that I stopped by here today! Needed the exhortation. Thank you for sharing!

Cookie said...

Praise the Lord Susan

Welcome Back Susan. It's good to
have you back. Valerie & I have prayed for you, and Yes we will continue to pray for you. Love you my dear Sister Susan.

Blessings from,
Valerie & Francisca

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Of course, after I published the post, I thought it was just terrible. So glad we are kindred spirits.

How I miss you!!! I'll try to call you soon. Thanks for the encouragement, dear soulmate.

You are always such a blessing to me. Thank you for your prayers.

Linda said...

You have what it takes because you have Jesus...He's everything that it takes. And I know you know that. Write on!


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Susan -

Welcome back!

I've had some disappointments this year, which made me question why I was pressing on. Like you, it came down to who gave me my marching orders. Until He changes them, I'll continue writing.

Susan :)

Mr Lonely said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Danie Marie said...

Great post, Susan, and I totally understand. I just sent my manuscript to an agent, and in one way, I feel like this is my year. My son got married last week and I finally have a daughter, so why not get published too??? Then this negative bug says, "What if she doesn't take you on as a client, what then?" and doubt creeps in. We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. I love your writing Susan, and I've missed you. So glad you're back, Sweet Sister!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Of course I will pray for you, dear. I like what you said, "We don't have what it takes, but HE does."

He chooses to use us, broken as we are, and full of holes. This way we know the glory goes to Him alone.

Can't wait to see you next month in Philly! Blessings and love,

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

Sweet Susan,

An amazing post. Thank you for your transparency. I'm so glad God doesn't give up on us! The word He gave me today about His character is: Able.

He has sufficient resources and abilities. We only need to surrender to His will and say, Here I am Lord use me!

I love your heart for Christ. I'm glad your season of being still is coming to an end!

Be encouraged and accept a fresh breath from God today. God is good!

Looking forward to hearing of His mighty works through you in the future!

Rhonda Schrock said...

Are you writing yet, girl? Just checking in as you asked. :)

Hope all is well and that summer's been fabulous for you.

eph2810 said...

How often have I been distracted by life; thinking that I am doing the right things, but burned & crashed because I was running in front of God. My past failures have taught me one thing: patience.
Peter is my favorite apostle; his life shows me that even when we fail, God is there to lead us back on the right path.

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Thanks all for your encouraging words.
Dane Marie - Will certainly be keeping you in prayer. May your work find the best home, where it will be nurtured and honed to perfection!
Jeanette - Oh, it will be so sweet to meet!
Rhonda - You are an angel. Thanks for the accountability! So needed!
Erin - Eph 2:8-10 is one of my favorite verses! Blends His grace which saves us with our marching orders - show His love in what you do. So true about Peter. I love the verse that says that Peter said this because he didn't know what to say. Can identify! Yet he was forgiven and restored. Such a blessing.