Conquering Anxiety and Isolation With Persistence and Excellent Writing
Well I was going to stop my “Starting Again” posts at a nice round number, 10. But a renegade wolf has changed my plans. One of my posts was liked by Chris Nicholas founder of https://therenegadepress.com/ and I went there to discover who was there.
Without this blog of mine, I never would have discovered Chris Nicholas. He is in Australia. I am in Kansas. Another reason my blog has already been worthwhile. Chris Nicholas is a youngish writer named after Christ and a popular saint. He has forced me to wrestle with the big questions of life this afternoon and handed me the answer in his thoughts.
I don’t think I can even write about his writing. It is beautiful and dark, but dark like reality on this earth is dark sometimes. It is darkness that allows you to discern the light when you fight your way through the fog and pursue the very essence of what God gave you your life to do. It is not the dark of evil, but the dark of knowledge you cannot have yet or have not found. It is unknowing. It is the anxiety of not knowing, like you find in “The Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross. Chris’ imaginative and writing skills are way beyond mine. So I will not critique it except to say that reading his words are worth your precious time. Who cares if there is or is not a spelling error. I never noticed. I will talk about his message though, the challenge he presents, and its effect on me.
The messages in two of his blogs fit my concerns of the moment precisely and challenged me to overcome the dissonance caused by my inability to commit to one course or another. These are the questions his writing raised in my soul:
- Should I write a blog about writing or should I write a blog about faith?
- Will my blog survive?
- Should I write for money or for the love of God?
- Should I follow all the rules of content writing, or just write what is in my heart.?
- Should I be sensible and give up or go back to work?
- Can I be vulnerable and admit that I cling to the Christian God with all my might to a world that says it believes the perfectly balanced universe came about by a chance bang?
- Am I brave enough, bold enough to chronical my study and search for the most high God, admitting that I am a fool and a sinner, while I call to my friends with my, “Look free steak dinners over there.” (Kreeft, 2014)
Chris’ content is about boldness. First, the letter to himself replays where he was 6 years before and where he is now. His pride after his first post and his triumph looking back at the depression and misery he confronted, brushed off, and survived. His fear has changed to confidence. His friendless blog now has thousands of followers.
I relate because I have felt the anxiety caused by worrying how something you do or write will be received. I loved that first time I hit “Publish,” but it was scary, and I wished I could take it back especially after it rolled to my Facebook and LinkedIn sites. Too many times in the past I have written an e-mail and hit “Send” or put a stamp on a letter and tossed it in the post box, saying what I think, even what I knew to be true, but regretted it later because it cost me. I developed the habit of keeping quiet. The old “keep your head down below the cubicle wall” syndrome so you don’t get it shot off. Not an admirable or brave trait.
I have also been depressed like he has been, and anorexic, like his brother was, and fallen too. Being divorced twice for a Catholic is terminal, or so I thought until I pursued forgiveness with boldness. Sometimes I can be a real warrior and I admire warriors when I find them. For I feel great joy in the day, today. No one would suspect my cubby self had a brush with anorexia in the past. That is only true because God woke me up five or six years ago and laid out before me where I was headed, for my consideration. I wept. And then, I stiffened my jaw and I repented, atoned, gradually changed, and now live with a hunger to encourage, to make sure everyone knows that they are not alone, not merely material beings without a purpose, without love. That is my calling.
But, will a calling like that sell? Ah, probably not. Do I care? I guess I do, or I wouldn’t think twice. A Catholic would recognize this as the struggle with idolatry. Do I worship the god of success? I have been a people pleaser a long time. I like to eat. Both are habits. Jon Morrow (SmartBlogger.com) would say, “leave those people behind and find new friends, friends who are great writers, and maybe you will become one too.” But Jon also advises us to research what is selling before we decided what kind of blog to write. That resonates with me as well because I am more pragmatist than dreamer.
The other article I found nourishing by Chris Nicholas is “Suicide Season.” It was written in 2015. The quote
“Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for”
is from Kevin Claiborne. This is the seed that sprouted into Chris’s essay with the premise that allowing passion to die because you want to be safe and comfortable is suicide. Nailed it for me. Do I really want to work as a greeter at Walmart just to have a job, even if I’d be great at it? No. Do I want to sell products at FedEx even though I’d be great at it? No!
I read some of the comments that Chris’ essay inspired, and all are good. Some said, “but I had to feed my kids.” I say kids are a passion and a sacrifice. It is good to care for those who need you. Of course, I’m Catholic, so my world view tells me that a child’s life is most precious and worthy of sacrifice. I don’t think Chris was saying that self-sacrifice was suicide, but that succumbing to the fear of losing your comfort and ignoring your passion is suicide. Self-sacrifice is living, and living can give you a lot to write about.
Jon Morrow at SmartBlogger.com and Chris Nicholas at therenegadepress.com are both brave souls, warriors who have looked mental and physical anguish in the eye and whipped it; looked fear in the eye and let the fear fuel them to amazing bravery. Both changed the rules when the game was beating them. John Erickson, author of the Hank the Cowdog series self-published too, out of his garage, after many rejections and now has 72 books for sale and a fan zone on his website http://www.hankthecowdog.com/ and is a best-selling author and speaker.
You can find outrageous courage and tenacity in many places, Australia, Mexico, Texas. I admire these men and their websites. With them, they survive and conquer isolation, fear, and destitution. That is one heck of a beautiful wolf in the header image at therenegadepress.com.
Artic wolf in Montebello, Québec, Canada, Wikimedia commons, public domain
Peter Kreeft, 2014. Practical Theology, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, p. xii.