Yes to Faithfulness over Feeling

Author: Kate Schaber | | @kateschaber

When I began blogging, I was far more motivated by whether or not I felt inspired than I was by discipline. This outlook was reflected in other creative arenas of my life as well. Painting, gardening, guitar-playing, cooking— I thought this was how the creative process worked, and that the reason others seemed more successful was because they were just naturally more gifted than me, founts of inspiration.

I would wait for that overwhelming feeling of “I MUST write”, before putting pen to paper. I’d pour my guts into a piece, and hit Publish after reading over it a couple times. It could be several weeks or months before I’d post again.

About a year before we moved to Bend, my husband and I attended a conference there. In a workshop, a speaker stressed that a vital part of the creative process was not the right environment, or the right magical moment, but to just do the work. Create. In the middle of your life, in the middle of your messy room, in any spare moment you can get. I left the workshop with a page of hurried notes and, funny enough, inspiration to stop waiting to be inspired.

After our move, I found myself with some time to myself every Monday. Spencer was at work, Ezra was in childcare, and I had three WHOLE HOURS to do whatever I wanted. Which any parent will tell you, is basically the equivalent of 12 hours with a kid in tow.

I had been trying to write more and, with words from that workshop in mind, I decided to see what could happen if I applied some discipline, if I started creating like it was my job. So I started setting up camp in a coffee shop every Monday morning, and just…wrote. In notebooks, on my phone, spare paper, or whatever computer I could borrow.

Some Mondays, the words would not stop flowing, and on others, I couldn’t think of an actual single thing to say. Some days were incredibly fulfilling, and others were painful, annoying, and doubt-fueling.

But I kept writing. I decided to say yes to the small steps, to believing that every bit of effort, even when it felt meaningless, mattered. I had to trust that the very act of putting in the work, the faithfulness to show up, was significant. Even when I didn’t create the content I wanted to, sitting down to write was also important because of what it was producing in me.

I saw examples of this truth everywhere:

In fitness, you perform seemingly useless, tiny movements that build supporting muscles, which then actually allow the larger muscle groups to grow.

In gardening, there will be no juicy tomatoes, no fragrant herbs, no giant corn stalks without each minuscule seed sown; without faithful watering, weeding, waiting and trusting.

In the parable of the talents, the faithful servant invested in what had been given to him, and was told by his master “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.”

The little things matter.

Over the span of two years of my Monday morning writing, chances to write for people and collaborate and contribute opened up: Opportunity found me already in practice, already investing in my gifts. Not waiting to be inspired, not waiting for permission, not waiting to be seen, but prepared to say another Yes.

Don’t underestimate the importance of showing up. Maybe you’ll feel unseen, imperfect, discouraged, even bored— it’s ok. Because what the Holy Spirit will be forming in you is determination, discipline, faithfulness. When your opportunities arise and doors open, may you be found already working, and ready.

I still open up my laptop every Monday morning, and now if it’s been weeks since I blogged, the reasons are the busyness of life or because I am wrapped up in other writing projects. I still have many (many) uninspired days. But I don’t let them stop me anymore. I’ve seen the importance of practicing my purpose, even when no one is watching. And I find joy in it. Because the faithful, small, consistent work is among the most significant and beautiful work you can do.

Whitney ParnellComment