when I am transparent with you: using poetry to help us stop second-guessing

It’s an uncomfortable feeling–the second-guessing. The feeling heightened in the morning, right after I wake. I try to be aware of it, giving myself space to process the emotions rather than let them boss me around. I want to attend to the emotions, not ignore them. But I want to take a deeper look at the why and how of them–not giving them complete control. 

Writing helps me process them. And writing poetry right after I wake can be an effective tool for this processing to happen. In this case, I am intentionally letting the emotions have free rein–asking them to guide me. Writing the poem helps me to feel them. But, still, they must not just sit there. I must attend to them– take the poem to God and ask Him about it: seek His wisdom about what is happening in me, beneath the surface. 

But sometimes, and I have been doing this the last few weeks, I write poems by flipping the order: before writing a poem, I first have a conversation with God, often in my journal, and then I let God’s response to me in the conversation initiate the poem. 

Want to know what this looks like? Well, I am going to be super transparent with you. Below is an example of what this journaling and then poetry writing, for me, can look like. First, I share my heart with God, engaging with Him, in my heart, as I write. And then I write a poem inspired by His response back to me. This is from my journal on Wednesday, the day after Justin and I got home from a few days away while our three kids were on a mission trip in Mexico.

I should be happy here, Father. Logically, I realize I have no reason to not be, which is why my wistfulness confuses and frustrates me. The time in Santa Cruz with Justin was full of adventure and challenge, rest and beauty. Getting up early, in the cold, to go biking in the hills–or on trails in forest near river and ocean–filled my heart. It was an escape of some sorts, I guess–and if we lived and and worked in Santa Cruz, with having to take care of a home and go to work there, I might not find that place so magical, so restorative. But I think I am wondering how I can choose a life that gives me restoration and beauty while I am home. One of the things I enjoyed about our trip away was the rhythms of our days–outdoor exercise followed by work, and then rest and celebration in the late afternoon and evening. 

I consider this now, pausing as I write, and I feel a pressure settle upon me–an immediate discontent with having to…what? I need a new mindset, for I want to live a life of gratitude, a life with You and not alone. I think that is part of it–I feel alone a lot of the time at home. It settles on me like a fog, numbing my senses and distorting what is real. I will be quiet now, asking you to lift the fog–helping me to see it and understand how it warps my vision. Show me what is true, what is real, how You are here, how I am with You, how I am never alone.

(*I close my eyes, and I am quiet–not writing–for ten minutes. And then I write down what I saw.)

I see a man walking on the cliffs near the ocean, enveloped by mist and gray fog. He wears a hat, like the ones in the movies or that business people used to wear. I only see his back, and he walks away from me. I see only his silhoette. And I hear You, Father, telling me how I live believing there is lack–scarcity–everywhere, and that I am missing something and that is not true. The world, my life in You, bursts with goodness and beauty, adventure and rest. I am not missing out on it. But I must choose to see it in order to experience it. Otherwise, yes, I will lack, for I will be missing being with You.

from my journal, February 19, 2020

And then I want to go deeper into this revelation–engage with God further–and on the next page in my journal, inspired by this encounter with God, I write this poem:

He used to speak to me
in ways predictable and sure. 
I would listen, 
pen in my hand,
and the words I wrote
were not my own—

making the division
between us something
I could see and feel, 
though not with
my physical senses,
and I liked it, 

how his separateness
from me made me
feel safe, a hiding place, 
a rock on which
I could stand.

And now the landscape
is deep and wide and I
see no place of hiding but
a vastness: freedom of
all possibility unfolding and

the choice before me,
always in me, to believe I
am alone here, or
the words, my friends,
the map to finding
the way to where,

with him, I always am.

-jennifer j. camp

For the Loop Poetry Project prompt this week, spend a few minutes journaling, engaging with God, on something that makes you second-guess or insecure or uncomfortable. What is something that worries you or bothers you? What is something that is weighing you down right now? What is something about which you have questions? How do you feel insecure? In what area of your life do you lack confidence? How is it making you feel?

After you have done some processing of these feelings through journaling–writing them down with transparency–and engaging with God as you do so–write a poem inspired by your experience. What did you learn? What new truth has been revealed? How does your heart feel? (Are you feeling unsettled or grounded, energized or frustrated?) 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this process of journaling first, and then writing a poem. And if you would like to share your poem–which would be so wonderful–please do so in the comments below, or in the beautiful community at Loop Poetry Project and/or on social media, using the hashtag #looppoetryproject, so we can find you!

with much love, from this one true heart,

jennifer

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com

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