External Pressure. Internal Failure.

I’m not doing so well with this 30 day writing without editing effort. Anna and I are on vacation, and leading up to it, I had so much work to do, I had to let the writing go. Then I got sick. Yeah. You know. Right when you’re starting your vacation your body decides to get revenge on you for the past 6 months of stress.

What is it about rest that seems to invite sickness? Why is that when you’ve been running non-stop, the second you stop, you start feeling the pain?

When I left my job almost two years ago, the first thing that happened was that I got sick. Then I threw out my back. Then I lost a lot of my motivation to build the software business. It turns out, I guess, that adrenaline (or whatever) can easily ignore one problem to draw energy toward another. Then, when it subsides, that other problem rears its ugly head. You just don’t notice your body decaying because you’re so focused on your work. You don’t notice your family falling apart because you’re so focused on (what you think is) providing for them.

It turns out that I do a lot of what I do because I feel pressured by other people or situations. Some part of me assumes that if I don’t write this email right now, the other person will think I’m unfit for the position I fill. Or that I can’t post this article because people will see that I’m not as good of a writer as I’d like to think. Or that my wife will leave me if I don’t make more money. Or…. You get the idea.

But all that external pressure really just hides something deeper and hidden. Somewhere inside of me there lies a doubt that I in fact should fill this position. Somewhere inside of me, I don’t think my writing is good enough. Somewhere inside of me, I value money more than myself. Sure, other people might think those same things. But let’s be honest – I don’t really care about other people that much. At least not in that fleshy, instinctual way. My default mode is selfish and self-serving. So when what Seth Godin calls my “lizard brain” kicks in and tells me to run, it’s not really because I think it’d be good for someone else; it’s because I think it would be good (read “safe”) for me.

Every morning, I wake up to the sound of Eisley playing in the other room. I go to her and see her huge smile. She’s playing, laughing, enjoying life. In that moment, I’m extremely happy, even if also very tired. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that I’m tired or sick or hungry. But then I think about the work I have to do for the day – particularly the work other people want me to do. Then, instead of playing with my daughter for a few minutes, I’m putting her in a swing. She doesn’t need more than 15 minutes of my time, but all that external pressure pushes me to do what I don’t want to do. And not only then am I failing myself (in that deep satisfaction that comes from being a father), I’m failing my daughter.

And all of this reveals how dishonest I am with myself. It betrays me.

But what do I do about it?

The only thing I know to do when I can’t seem to change something is to get honest about it – to use that external pressure as a strength. I think, in some ways, that’s what I’m trying to do with this blog. After all, I wouldn’t be writing right now if I hadn’t committed to 30 days of writing.

2 Comments External Pressure. Internal Failure.

  1. Freeda Greene

    Thank you for being so honest, Jon. May God richly bless you as you open to His laser vision that reveals you to yourself. It is so easy to see the outside of people like you and think that they are full of confidence in themselves, being not only naturally gifted, but spiritually gifted. But you are honest enough with yourself to see that your actual motivations are not ideal. But I am believing that just that honesty and transparency before God and others is pleasing to God. I pray that God will continue to mature you as you keep striving after what He created you for. May God bless Anna, Eiseley and you, Jon, as a family and may Christ in you make you the husband and father and worker you aspire to.

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