New document. Blank canvas. Clean sheet of paper. Nothing written, nothing created, nothing expressed, just unexplored possibilities and untapped potential.
This scenario scares the crap out of me every time I face it.
I dream of writing best-selling books that shatter sales records. I desire to top the charts with my music and stay at the top longer than any other previous recording artist. I long to paint my soul and have my art in the most prestigious galleries in the world. I want to invent and produce innovative solutions that benefit all people everywhere through ingenuity and pure genius. I envision creating curricula and opening schools worldwide, equipping people to step into their destinies. I long for mine to be a household name globally for all I have accomplished.
Yet in the midst of my desperation to make a difference in the world around me, to live a satisfying life of significance, sometimes I have felt so inadequate. So incapable. So unsure of what the “right move” is for my life. It was utterly paralyzing.
I used to stare at a new Word document for hours. Literally.
Sitting at the piano with music trapped on the inside was debilitating. A stark white canvas, with paints and brushes surrounding me, somehow morphed into prison bars and I felt like the walls were closing in on me. This was the battle I entered any time I tried to use my creative gifts.
I’m sure there’s a psychological condition – some fancy word for some type of phobia – that this could be lumped into or categorized as. Actually, I just did us both a favor and I looked it up just now. Apparently, it could be a combination of things.
First, there’s atychiphobia.
This is also known as kakorrhaphiophobia – neither of which are easy to say, although the first word is a little less daunting - which is the fear of failure. This seems to stem from repeated failure, frequent embarrassment and humiliation, a gross lack of success at attempted endeavors, and feelings of dread, panic, and anxiety. Sweating, nausea, dizziness and even fainting from panic attacks seem to be the norm if you have this phobia.
Then there’s atelophobia, which is the fear of imperfection – either doing something wrong or not being good enough. I can’t tell you how many times I would not start (or would not finish) something just because I knew I couldn’t make it “perfect enough” or how many times I berated myself when I DID put forth my best attempt and it fell drastically - and pathetically - short of my expectations.
Or, the one that is perhaps the most all-encompassing of the anxieties I have faced, there is ateloaetorrophobia, which is the fear of an imperfect creation. I think that one is pretty self-explanatory.
I’m sure there are others, but that about sums it up.
Now, I'm not trying to profess any negative crap over myself or say I suffer from any serious psychological issues. I don't. I just found it fascinating there are actual medical conditions that embody some of the experiences I have had! All I'm saying is, this is a feeling I am not alone in experiencing!
You see, I completely relate to the fearful servant with the one bag of silver in the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25:14-30. Instead of investing his talent and bringing the Master any sort of return on what he had entrusted to his servant, the servant buried the talent. When the Master came to collect his investment and the returns made on it, the servant answered in verse 24, saying, “‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I WAS AFRAID I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back’” (emphasis mine).
Let’s just say, the response he got from his Master was less than thrilling.
“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25:26-30, NLT).
The biggest problem I have with the practical application of this passage to my life is I have not been given only one bag of silver or even just ten bags of silver: I’ve been given a vast array of gifts and talents – all of which I do quite well! Because I have been so blessed with so many gifts, talents, and abilities, the verse in Luke 12:48 that states, “…To whom much is given, much is required…” totally freaks me out.
Theologically, I know this has way more to do with my life than just the gifts, talents, and abilities I have been given.
I get that, I truly do.
I don’t feel like delving into the depths of everything these passages really talk about, however, because the particular dilemma I face in my life right now deals primarily with the abilities He’s given me and what on God’s green Earth I’m doing to bring Him a return on them.
I don’t think my desires are inherently selfish, although I’m sure it’s possible to get that impression of me because I shared my ambitions. The Bible has a lot to say about success, how to tap into it, and whose job it is to make your name great. It’s a bit of a joint effort, truly. See Genesis 12:2, 2 Samuel 7:9, Joshua 1:8, and Psalms 90:17 for just a few references.
The point is, I don’t want to waste my life.
I don’t want to get to the end of it – or even the end of any season I’m going through – and realize I wasted all my time and accomplished nothing of what He intended for me to bring forth as fruit from my life. Oddly enough, there’s no technical term for “fear of wasting your life” or “fear wasting your time.” Regardless, it’s a real thing, and I really battle it. Daily, these days!
I want to hear my Master, King Jesus, say to me as he did to the faithful servant in Matthew 25:21, “‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’”
Frankly, that’s a lot more enjoyable than weeping and gnashing of teeth!
I am just on an adventure with Jesus to discover and fulfill my purpose on this planet. It's been a wild ride so far and I'm sure it will continue to be that way. God has a way of being a little unpredictable, you know? In the meantime, as I journey into the great unknown of the future, at least I can be comforted knowing whatever His plans are, they are for my good (Jeremiah 29:11)!