The following post is for anyone who has ever tried to tap the gift of God in their life.
The gift God has given you - and yes, He has gifted you well - is not unlike a wild horse.
It first catches you with its adventure, galloping and gallivanting about, unbridled and untamed. Unwilling to settle down but ready to go wherever the pasture leads it. You get excited because you catch a glimpse of this thing that is in you and it seems awesome and you throw yourself into it with all the wild fancy of a dreamer.
And you suck. You are so not good at what you think you ought to be doing that you wonder if it's worth doing any more. You wonder if this wild adventure can be brought down, can be tamed or reined in. Yet you wonder, as well, if it would be worth the same to you if you corralled it. Bring a horse into the paddock, and it seems that you've killed something in its spirit. It's confined. It's cornered. It's stuck.
It seems neither a good place for a horse nor a gift.
Yet the wisdom of those who have done this and done this well tells you there is something to be said for the discipline. So you bring your horse into the stable, rein in your gift, and get down to the nitty gritty of honing your craft.
It's not easy. With every passing day, you see the way that the bit in the mouth is killing the spirit. You feel how the discipline is sucking the life right out of the passion. You understand keenly that this isn't so fun; this isn't the grand adventure that mesmerized you any more. This is more like...work. It's more like...hard work.
And you still suck. After all of this investment of discipline, you might even suck worse now than you did before you bridled this horse. You feel less talented, less steady, and less gifted now than you did when you decided to sit in this saddle. You wonder if it's worth it, all this discipline, if all it serves is to suck the fun and the passion and the thrill out of everything. You wonder if this gift is worth this stable. I mean, if you're going to suck, you'd rather suck in unfenced pastures rather than rot in the excrement of the barn.
This does no honor to the spirit of the horse nor the passion of the gift.
But there is a payoff. It comes with a delicate balance of the two.
The point of the bridle is never to break the horse; it is to train it. The point of harnessing your passion is not to break your gift; it is to develop it. If you find yourself sucking the life out of your calling, then you're not doing discipline right. On the other hand, if you find yourself running amok and dragged around by the idea of your gift, then you're not doing adventure right.
It's when you skillfully combine the adventure and the discipline that you are able to touch the thrill of the gift and the journey of the ride. A horse that's been bridled learns to honor its rider and its boundaries. It learns where it belongs, where it can go, where it cannot go, what gait to use and at what speed. It learns to travel its terrain without bucking its rider. As a result, you can set it out to free pastures and trust the horse to remember its discipline in the expanse of its spirit.
You do, however, have to set it free. You have to let it run again. You have to give it clean air and green pastures and open space to be a horse. To do what horses do and go where whimsy takes it. You have to invite the horse to an adventure. If you bring the horse in and never let it back out of the barn, it simply wastes away and becomes lame.
Ever feel lame? Give yourself a little space to roam.
You see, it is this balance that captures the adventure and the thrill. It is this balance that honors the gift and the journey. It is this balance that sets the horse free. It is balance that frees you as a writer. To maintain the spirit of adventure and passion that drew you to what you do in the first place and to instill in it a sense of discipline that enables it to honor the same.
And you still suck. Because you're an artist, a creator, and you're never going to be perfectly happy with anything you do.
But something magical happens here, in this unbridled yet disciplined place. You suck, and it doesn't make you wonder. It makes you wander. It makes you take off for pastures unknown, to see where this horse can take you, to embrace the adventure because you have invested the discipline. You know you're not about to get bucked off. So you take a chance. You go on a journey. You ride your gift wherever it might take you, just to see.
This...does honor to the horse and the gift.