Fables, Fantasy, Faith

Finding Inspiration

The Eagle and Child in Oxford, England. Famous for serving Tolkien, Lewis and the Inklings.
The Eagle and Child in Oxford, England. Famous for serving Tolkien, Lewis and the Inklings.

Writer’s block- I hate it, and boy I’ve had a fair share of it this past year. It’s paralytic and disheartening. The reason it pops its ugly head up varies, but all agree that nothing cures a bout of writer’s block like a good ole dose of inspiration.

Writer’s aren’t the only people in need of inspiration. I’d argue any profession needs it. Inspiration is vital to our creativity, which helps us not only create new content, but to problem solve, network, manage, organize, lead, follow, fight, persevere, overcome and any other ‘inspirational’ words you can find posted on the walls of our classrooms and workplaces.

Inspiration resonates with us, because everyone has been inspired to do something out of the ordinary. Whether it’s a new product for a business, a creative add, school project, an intriguing plot for a story, a plan to better organize your home, a new year’s resolution, or a vision of a new and self-improved you, being inspired is an amazing feeling. Following the initial idea, we feel revitalized, we  take on an optimistic lens and focus on all that could be.  We have energy to further explore our idea, polish it, and hope to implement it. We know there will be obstacles in the way, but at the time we are not concerned. Why are we not concerned? Because our idea is too good to fail. We believe in it.

On the flip side, we can all relate to discouragement. Everyone has given up on an idea before. Obstacles and dead ends can knock the breath right out of our ideas, and the things that once inspired us now depress us. That is why we have motivational posters in our work area. We know humans need to be inspired. It’s in our nature to get excited about the extraordinary, likewise it is our nature to want to give up when the going gets tough and the bleak outlook of reality sets on our once promising horizon.

So what do we do? We look for inspiration.

I believe we lose our inspiration because we forget, or don’t realize its source. We get too caught up in trying to create an environment that gives us a certain vibe. I am guilty of this. You should see my office/playground/mancave.  First and foremost, it must be dark before I can sit down and write. The only light allowed is what passes my closed blinds and the illumination of my reef aquarium. Second, all of my chores must be done for the day. I can’t write knowing there is something else I need to do before the day’s end. Third, I must have music playing that I am not familiar with, the funkier the better, though classical is a close second. If I am familiar with the melody I will start to focus on it rather than my work. The fourth requirement is to mentally prep myself by reading material related to my writing subject. Finally, I hope after I met all of my writing prerequisites the stars will align so I can pump out creative content.

Don’t get me wrong, creating an environment conducive to your needs certainly helps the creative process, but it’s not what helps us find our inspiration. Another way we try to inspire ourselves is to actively search for it. For me that could be as big of a to-do as taking a vacation (pictured above is my trip to Oxford); even a twenty minute drive to my favorite coffee shop, or something as simple as working on my garden or reef tank can suffice. Life experiences are also inspirational.  Some experiences are tragic, others comedic, some may be neutral but still leave an impression on our lives, like examining an efficient assembly line, watching a falling star, or hearing a stranger laugh. In a more intimate setting it could be a loved one telling a story you never heard before, or hearing your child cry for the first time. These experiences can be powerful and often fuel our imagination, inspiring us to seek and create the extraordinary. The problem is when we fail to recognize the author of our inspiration. When the passion and interest for our work begins to wane we go back to where we were last inspired hoping to find the same inspirational experience. Sometimes we find it, most of the time we do not; and the excitement we once had dies out, our work along with it. That’s because we are looking for the inspirational experience itself, not the origin of the experience.

2 Timothy 3:16 says,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives, It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 

I’m no linguist, but I believe Paul used the word theopneustos, which translates God breathed. It’s not a perfect translation either, because it’s a unique concept. If you follow the etymology of the word inspire you will see it comes from an Old French word inspiracion, meaning breathing in;” which came from an older Latin word inspirare, meaning  inflame, blow into, to breathe. I think of it like resuscitation, God breathing life into us.

Inspiration is a gift from God.  We don’t have to find it, we just have to accept it. How do we do that?  We get intimate with Scripture and pursue a close relationship with God. Write Scripture on your heart. As followers of Christ we should always seek ways to align our lives with His will.  I believe God uses inspiration to directs us to do His will.  When he reveals an idea to us that excites, it strikes a chord that resonates within us and surges us with vigor and the initiative to pursue our revelation.  That’s why it is so exhilarating when we are inspired. You know what I am talking about, that feeling of, ‘man this is so good, I can’t believe I came up with that.’ Well you didn’t. God inspired you. He breathed life into you, granting you a vision, a goal to pursue, a story to craft, a subject to paint, a business to run; so that you may do good works for His glory.

Want to stay inspired this New Year?  Then create that cozy work environment you need to stay productive and stay engaged in your life so you can be open to new experiences, but most importantly, continue your walk with God and stay in His word. He wants a relationship with you, and He wants to bless you in ways beyond inspiration. Actually, inspiration is just the byproduct.

Happy New Year

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