June 9: The Lion

If you were made to create, you won’t feel whole and healthy and alive until you do. -Shauna Niequist

It’s currently 9:04 am on Thursday, June 9. I am sitting in my office at work coming up with a million and one reasons for why I don’t want to write anything. It’s been for months (a year?!) now that I’ve been avoiding my blog. What started with a ridiculous security lock out of my original site (+a lot of tears-long story) has now created what I’ve recently come to know as my “lion.”

My friend at work is an artist. At work she sometimes makes beautiful hand lettered cards (we have a lot of time on our hands here…), but at home she prefers to paint. A couple weeks ago she told me her art room has become her “lion.” Confused, I asked her to explain. She then told me about Annie Dillard’s book, “The Writing Life.” In the book, Ms. Dillard shares her concept of “the lion.”

“A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, “Simba!”

Now obviously here the author is speaking in regards to her expression of choice – writing books. But my friend took it and applied it to her art room (the analogy breaks down a bit, but the concept works). The longer she stayed out, the scarier it became to enter. She wanted so badly to face it, but like me, could think of so many other things she had to do that she would end up justifying herself further and further away- and so the tension grew. It came to a head when she was feeling so drained from her everyday she knew her only option was to face her lion. And so, one Friday she went home fully ready to tame the beast. And honestly, she didn’t that day. When I asked her about it Monday she said, “No, I got distracted and couldn’t face it. I knew you were going to ask…” BUT- accountability is powerful, and the lion would not have reign over HER pride rock. So she went home later that week and she painted. She came back to work exuberant and so excited from her time of creating! And her joy was contagious- she felt motivated to do her work, her homework, her internship, her friendships, her marriage, etc. She was filled, and overflowing.

It’s so interesting how things that bring us the most joy can end up as our biggest lions. Now, I don’t write books and I don’t paint, but I do love to write. I believe words have meaning, and were given to us for just that purpose. Over the past few months I have felt many leading nudges toward getting back on my blog and just writing- not so I could receive nice words from others, not for attention, not for Facebook likes. I was feeling pushed back to do this for myself- not selfishly, but because I know God uses times of expression to fill me. And for Him to use me to the fullest, He needs me to be filled. I feel joy and purpose and the Holy Spirit so connected/interwoven when I sit down and type words. I don’t know what it is- it just is. Don’t we hear ALL the time about how we need to slow down and make time for self-care and yada yada? I always think I’m listening to these pleas, but really I’m just hearing. Today I am listening because I can’t avoid it anymore. This week at work has been terribly boring and honestly, I just need something to do. So, I’m writing-finally.

It’s God’s heart for His kingdom to come through His people here on earth. We are weak, but when we connect with Him, He becomes our strength! That’s what happens for me when I write; and for Carrie when she paints, and my husband when he plays his guitar, and you when you use your gifts. Therefore I’m challenging myself today. I want to keep listening, to keep facing the lion, to keep trying to balance the everyday with the things I need to add to connect with God more. And I know I’ll inevitably let the lion(s) back in; but thankfully I have sweet friends who I know will hold me accountable to Jesus- who I imagine will in turn yell to me, “SIMBA!”

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

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