No Focus

I feel the inclination to write for the sake of it; for the sake of having nothing better to do and perhaps for the sake of wanting to feel deserving of the title “writer”. I do not feel inspired just yet. But I’m going ahead and maybe I’ll meet her at a different train stop. I’ve been reading Miss Hannah Brencher’s blog. I can’t help but say a bit about her. For one, I feel her through her words. She is bubbly, she is warm, and she is alive and open. She’s a good writer.

Good writing is never about getting on a plane, flying it to the destination you’d like to reach and getting off.

Good writing is firstly, taking the pilot’s seat. Then it’s about dipping the nose of the aircraft swiftly in and out of the clouds, getting in that good turbulence, allowing your passengers some pretty views and leaving a trail of white gases behind in a blue sky. Especially leaving the trail behind. A good writer seeks to leave an impression on his or her reader. Writing should be like offering a cup of coffee. Coffee is far more than what it tastes like. Coffee affects you (I would know). The reader must be stimulated and stirred and jerked awake. No decaffeinated artistry. He or she must desire to meet the characters being described or better yet have the scenes coming through to him or her like a home cinema. If any of this so far has made any sense, keep reading. If it hasn’t, please keep reading, I can’t promise but I’ll try to get better as I go on. So that’s it about Miss Brencher. God help me to reach such heights.

I graduated from college three months ago. I now work full-time as a software developer.

This means that I wake up every morning and sit behind a desk.

And unfortunately or fortunately I have the time I never once ever had in college to actually think about my life and try to answer the question we’ve been going at since age four. “What do I wanna be when I grow up?” My favorite kid in the whole world is four years old now. He tells me without any hesitation that he wants to be a fire-fighter when he grows up. I have to be honest, I’m jealous of his confidence. I too, wanna save lives, I want to fight out the imminent fires of hell while I’m on earth, I want to preach to the broken-hearted and declare the finished work of Christ. Do I sound too gory? Sorry. I’ll whisper it instead if it’d make you happy. I wanna be a fire-fighter. But I find myself sitting in front of a desk and occasionally typing out a block of code. And doing my best to refocus.

Refocusing entails trying (a real struggle) to regain the love I once had for reading books. It entails pushing idols and distractions out of my life. Idols include guys (or men should I say) who try to push into my life and be calling, texting every minute of the day and complain when they do not hear from me for like one day. Am I exaggerating? No. I do not owe anyone my attention. I’m single. I don’t know how you read that but if you didn’t read it right, go back and read those two words again without the inaudible sigh and sadness like oh God when will this stage of my life come to an end?

No, I’m single and I believe it’s the will of God for me right now.

And I am doing my best to keep my ears attentive to when He speaks. But look I’m not gonna front and act all grown like I have everything figured out and being single rocks all the time. I have my moments. The nights when I’m suddenly back in a graveyard with a shovel and I know everything is buried but please Lord thou knoweth if these dry bones could live. The nights when I consider sending that text but I play out how the conversation would end in my mind and figure out it’s not worth it. The nights when I’m sorry and I’m repentant and how did I really screw up what was the best chance I ever had with someone I really loved and why I am here right now alone? And the nights when I ignore every good inclination inside me and turn to indulge in what starts as a text message but would only lead to death? But see I walk through a valley of shadows of death but I don’t fear. God is here. He hasn’t let me down yet. He’s relentless to save me. And so I rest assured.

Now distractions these days include mostly social networks. While I keep my accounts alive, I barely keep them active. I say this not out of disdain for those whose arachnidian (it’s a word) hands stay glued to the web and what it has to offer but this is my personal preference. My most active account is my Twitter. And I can confess to you that I do not spend endless amounts of time on a news feed or timeline, reading other people’s stories, coveting their filtered beauty, glorified possessions, much-loved family members and Pinterest-planned weddings as I would have as a college student. Truth be told, people’s opinion of me matters way less than ever before. I’m not out to create a personality on these networks just to prove something (that I’m pretty or cool or fashionable or enjoying my life or smart or religious or spiritual or whatever! And I’m not saying that every active person out there is out to prove something. I just don’t have a need to be “seen” as much as I did before). I’m not too great at multi-tasking and I also fear that while I keep my eyes on everyone else and their activity, I’ll be failing to keep watch on myself. See we’re all going to need some extra oil, for when the bridegroom comes late and if I share the oil I have with everyone else too early, I won’t be able to keep my lamp on when I need it. But let’s focus here, why this need to keep my eyes on myself?

See there is a vast difference between the life of a college student and a working individual. In one life, there was a fixed aim and goal, but in this life, the world is mine for the taking. I am slowly beginning to see that the road before me is not a simple interstate highway. It’s a crazy rotary with a million roads leading everywhere. Everywhere.

Wait. Before you go on. There’s no moral to what I’m writing. Nothing I want you to do. Just me and my thoughts here.

Before I went to MIT, I had dreams.

I was well, what you’d call a smart kid. I knew a bit of science and I believed in it. True story. I saw myself winning Nobel prizes; I desired things like that. Yes foolish dreamer. But gradually, I pushed away from things like Biology and Physics that really pricked my interest and turned myself in handcuffed to Computer Science. Why? It was simply for the love of programming. You don’t suddenly wake up and decide to do Computer Science. My journey took time; the classes pulled my interest. I enjoyed not just reading about the theory but doing the theory. That’s what finally cemented my decision. My ability to spend hours in front of a laptop coding and debugging my heart away made it clear to me what I should study. I spent countless lunch breaks finishing my CS projects and gladly too (hard-core nerd, yessur). See I always felt science was interesting, but I would dislike drawing out atoms and organs and studying for science subjects was always too monotonous. Studying for Computer Science on the other hand, meant sitting down for half an hour thinking, no, cracking my knuckles, scratching, exhaling and hurling things all over the room to solve problems logically, write them in code and check if they worked how I expected. Now that was the fun for me.

But here comes in this other ability of mine, writing and thus begins the duel of my life. Where would I direct my attention, would it be English and Literature or Computer Science. I chose the latter for the past four years, simply because it brought in the most returns. Practically, it’s easier to get into college as a female who wants to do a STEM (science, tech, engineering or math) major. It’s also easier to find an engineering job in 2013 America compared to other professions.

But my writing mojo has not died down.

It has not taken my lack of attention for the past years to mean “the end”. It pushes back to the surface and screams, “Choose me!” And so for the last couple of months, I said I’d take it by the horns. I’d be a writer. But yo it’s one thing to have your rowboat, it’s another thing to have a storm or contrary winds that make you begin to row like crazy. Writing is hard. I need a cheerleader. I need the grace of God. But I wanna do this, I wanna publish! And that can’t be all I’m called to do (write books), what about the rest of my abilities? The big question looms before me, swinging back and forth like a pendulum. That’s why I’m refocusing. And so yes, refocusing also entails putting all my abilities to use. I have learned in the last two days one huge truth.

The only life which has been worth living is the one poured out to preserve other lives.

So back to my rowboat analogy. It’s another thing to row your boat to the other side of the sea to help or rescue someone. It’s a completely different thing. And I’m not there yet. I’m not fully living a life that is in service to others (in other words and in my circles known as “ministry”). The aim is to pour out my myself, squeeze every drop, work out all my pulp to see one kid or families or groups or nations gulp down something refreshing, liberating, something kinda like salvation. That’s the aim! That’s the focus!

Finally it’s one last thing to be rowing and then stop short because you see a man walking on the sea. God in the flesh.

To Him I owe my life, my peace, my righteousness, my joy.

I’m refocusing so I can see Him better. I’m refocusing so I can hear His answer to my big question. I think I may have my answer or at least part of it. And truth be told, my answer is shrouded by shadows. These are shadows of my doubts, my awareness of my limitations, my fears. The thing I’m most scared of is not poverty. I’m just scared that I’ll do a bad job. That I’ll fail as a pastor, won’t quite meet the mark as a minister and will disappoint as a preacher.

I need to hear a “how”, a “when”, a “where”, and a “what” from Him.

So I’ll keep pushing. At least I have a why. It’s cause He loves me. I love Him back so fierce.

~X.

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