Paralyzing Fear

hymnal justice

Next week I begin teaching a class at a local church about the songs we sing in church: the images of God we use and how those songs have shaped what we believe about who God is and how we live as people of faith. Hymns and worship songs are teaching tools; the hymnal itself is loaded with helpful information if you know to look for it.

I’ve taught this class before and it was very well received. Many of the people had no idea there is so much good stuff in there (not just the songs, but the tune index, the psalter, the metric index, and so on). I’ve been putting off prepping the online component of this class for two weeks. Why? Why would I do that? I don’t like to be rushed. I can’t claim there are more pressing things to do. What is the fear that is stopping me from getting started?

I think that’s the key: the fear of getting started. As long as I haven’t actually done anything tangible, I can have the luxury of claiming that it will be wonderful – once it’s done. I think that’s a trap of lot of creative people fall into. Julia Cameron (who wrote “The Artist’s Way” – which, incidentally, I am also currently facilitating) said, “Art isn’t about making something up. It is the opposite – getting something down.” When it’s merely an idea, I can hide behind my claim that it will someday be fabulous, but until I actually put it down on paper (or digitally), there is actually nothing there. Nothing has changed because there is no first mover. God is waiting on me.

The class is one example, but I can look at other areas of my life and see similar thinking: that barn door I want to install in my house, the flowerbed I want to plant in the backyard, the novel I want to write, the room I ned to declutter. I keep filling up my life with these other things: ironically, this blog is one of those distractions. Not that it isn’t helpful or useful, but it is not the dream.

So is it a motivational problem? Perhaps. If I have all the time in the world, I tend to squander it. I find I am most productive when I have the least amount of time to do it. Right now I’m coming off a week of incredibly productive work – but that class still isn’t online…

Perhaps I am afraid that this iteration won’t be as good as the last one. Perhaps I’m afraid   people won’t like it, won’t respond, or that God won’t show up to do the enlightening and teaching. Previous experience has shown that to be false thinking, yet the doubt remains. So what do I do? I step out in faith that something will happen, even if I don’t know what it will turn out to be. I take the first steps. Without those, the rest doesn’t even have a chance.

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