Wasteland Kings

I lay flat on my back staring up at the ceiling. My breath came a little ragged and my head felt light. The recently finished workout had torn me down completely and left me beyond exhausted.

I enjoy these experiences of being torn down, worn out, and exhausted because I’ve learned that God is the ultimate rebuilder.

The past few weeks brought me a few of these experiences and not just in the gym. I attended a writer’s conference a couple of weeks ago and it pushed me past my limits emotionally and mentally.

I try to soak up knowledge and wisdom like a sponge with the hopes of squeezing some of it out in my writing. That ability is a double edged sword because it can lead to getting overloaded and that’s what I experienced at the conference. Some of the days felt like drinking from a fire hose and that overwhelmed me.

As I filled to the brim with new knowledge, the other parts of the conference wrung me out of energy and strength. Writer’s conferences consist of fifty percent learning and fifty percent pitching your work to a publisher or agent. I discovered at the conference that the latter really wears me out.

Pitching my writing feels a little like opening my heart and asking if someone thinks it’s worth people’s attention. The problem is that the pitching process has nothing to do with that. In reality, I’m telling the publishing professional about a product and they’re evaluating whether or not that product fits well into the current marketplace.

That’s leagues away from opening my heart and seeing whether people care or not but it’s not always easy to reason with our hearts.

Sadly, none of the publishing professionals got excited about my work and that tore down my heart. At a few points of the conference, I got discouraged and I found myself at some pretty low points. That’s when God stepped in and started to build me back up.

The bulk of the conference is made up of classes or tracks that run multiple days and the main one is held in the morning for three hours. I switched from a morning class about productivity to a class about the heart of a creator at the suggestion of a friend, which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The class focused on what it means to create with God instead of for God and that’s exactly what I needed to hear. The rejections from the editors and agents made me feel like my work failed God and His purposes. This class taught me that’s God’s main purpose for my writing was for He and I to spend time together. 

That simple truth is the snowball that’s slowly becoming an avalanche of change in my heart.

The pressure to perform has decreased, the simple joy of creating has grown, and I’m more excited about starting projects than finishing them. Up until this point, the drive to prove myself with my writing has played a strong role in my work. That drive has crowded out many good things and brought in a good deal of fear and anxiety.

Getting showered with glowing praise and book deals would have only given that drive positive reinforcement. I needed circumstances to wear me out, tear me down, and get me to a point where I could see that God’s much more interested in my heart than my success.

I haven’t given up on the idea of publishing books or the dream of getting a bunch of people to read my work. I have started to accept that I don’t know exactly what will happen with my career. The mystery of that is much more exciting than it was a couple weeks ago and that alone is worth the difficulty of the last couple of weeks.

The pain, frustration, and exhaustion of being torn down is not fun. That doesn’t mean we can’t smile a little as we lay flat on our backs and stare up at the ceiling. Knowing that God can heal us and build us back up is an exciting thought and we should lean into that truth.

How has life torn you down recently? Do you believe that God will build you back?


Image Copyright: John Lambert Pearson

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Life of a Wanderer
The Fiction of a Wanderer

Matthew Rial