by Emily Conrad
My mom has a story she likes to tell about me, and she kindly shared it in front of group of ladies at my church last week. Apparently when I was little, I once hid away with the bottle of children’s vitamins and scarfed them down because they tasted like candy.
“At least they were healthy,” isn’t much of a defense of my younger self. First, if those vitamins tasted like candy, sugar is to thank. Second, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
I’m a novelist, so writing novels and being in love with a set of characters is a good thing. And, oh man, I love writing a good scene. I love sharing a good scene, but I can’t share scenes until they’re written, so these days, instead of hiding away to scarf down vitamins, I hide away to pound out words.
To move forward in a story, I might cut time I ought to spend on chores. And on reciprocating critiques. And on maintaining friendships and family relationships. And on reading… even reading my Bible.
When I do this, not only does my story not move forward much, but a feeling of fatigue settles in. I don’t sleep as well. My stomach doesn’t feel quite right. I want to take afternoon naps—which normally, feel like a waste of time to me.
I’m a healthy 35-year-old who gets to write full time. I have so much, including my health. Why has everything gone off track?
Because I’ve scarfed down so much of a good thing, it can’t nourish me.
Just like that little girl scarfing down vitamins isn’t going to get the balanced nutrition she needs from those little chewables—she may in fact poison herself—when I let anything loom too large in my life, the deepest parts of me go without the nourishment they need. The harm spreads into a general malaise that I feel physically.
Oh, but I can be stubborn. I live up to my name, which means “industrious.” My solution for malaise is to work harder. To sit at my computer longer. To go back over the plot and figure out where it went wrong. I tell myself that once I finish the novel, I can get my life back in order.
But I only find myself more stuck.
Writing is just one example of many things we can let take over. Work, TV, volunteering, working out, and on and on. Many things, both good and bad, can to lure us away to corners were we scarf down so much more than the recommended daily amount.
But Jesus calls us back to His beautifully set and bountifully stocked dinner table.
There is balance here. The unique nutrition each of us needs is in full supply.
Just like a prayer offered before a meal, there is hallowed space for time with our Savior. Personally, since I like writing so much, He invites me to use that gift here. Writing prayers and thoughts on Scripture keeps my mind from wandering back to my story or other concerns.
His table also holds a feast of friendships and relationships. Even for me, an introvert, He provides a wide variety of people to give and receive love. Rather than taking away time and inspiration, spending time with these interactions feed my soul and, by extension, my creativity.
Side dishes and desserts vary widely. Around here, there’s a side dish of audio books to enjoy while I do chores. As refreshing as a fruit dessert, two dogs ask for daily walks.
And yeah, there’s a big heaping plate of the passions and callings He’s given us. On the table before me is a heaping platter of stories to be told. Shared, even.
But at the head of the table, Jesus presides, a Father whose plan for our lives is a broad meal, balanced and nourishing and expertly prepared.
Let’s sit and eat. Let’s obey Psalm 34:8 and taste and see that the Lord is good.
Now. All of that said… What story does/did your mother like to tell about you?