Into the Gray

  • I have nothing to say.  It’s been this way for weeks.  Nothing.

I took a hiatus from writing this summer to focus on a lot of life that was happening.  With my nose to the grindstone, I unwittingly drifted into a creative paralysis.

What does a writer do when, for weeks, there are no words? When there is only blank space?

For me, dense fog creeps over the sun and my thoughts turn dark.  The landscape no longer boasts contrast but dissolves into gray like those endless winter days when  snow laden clouds and frozen earth meld seamlessly together.

In this wasteland, sound carries.  A whisper is enough.  In my wilderness, the first voice to speak is always shame.  Ha! So, you thought you could write?  Well look at you, now.  Nothing!  It was all a fraud.  YOU are a fraud!

Feelings, like obedient dogs, search for thoughts to follow.  Indiscriminate in their affections, they seek only a master.  More often than I care to admit, my feelings have dutifully submitted to shame because the voice is familiar.

So, like a devoted beast, I once again found myself trailing behind shame- following the voice that leads back to the cave.  That place where, although protected from the elements, there is no light.

Damp. Cold. Isolated. Safe.  In this cavern, my faithful friends, Endless Effort, Fear, Pride and Deep Sadness welcome me.  Encircling my soul, they silently sway in unison, intoning a haunting tune.  Like one hypnotized, I enter the ancient dance with its well-rehearsed steps.  Surrendering individual expression, I find a strange comfort in the drone of their united voices that allows me to internalize my insufficiency.  And time passes.

Although safe and familiar, life in a cave will eventually come up wanting.

At some point, from a place deep inside, a vague sense of boredom began to strain against my passivity.  Like one waking from a trance, the drone emitted by the cave voices began grating on my nerves. Honestly, where WAS the off switch?  Do I REALLY want to be this safe?

Faith stirred.   A small cry, yes, but it was enough.

What came next was entirely unexpected.  BAM! A snowball smacked me square in the face.  What?!! Who did that?  Laughter drifted playfully into the darkness.   And I was fully awake.

A friend, unwilling to leave me in my despondency, had walked up to shame and defied it.  Planted directly in the middle of the gray, he broke the spell.  Compelled by love and moved by faith, his friendship gave me courage to laugh at myself and silence the voices.

Faith, welling from another Source, then took over and challenged me to stride straight into the shadowland.  To explore the winter tundra and fear it not.  For in it there is wonder and truth and discovery.

Your words might be silenced and your efforts insufficient, the Voice whispered, but by faith there are no limits to what the WORD can do.  It will always restore life.

Don’t be afraid of the empty because I can fill it.

Shame is the fraud, you are my precious child.  My light will expose shame’s lies and my Truth will set you free.

And the gift? I am the One who distributes the gifts.  And, I am the One who makes them grow.  Dark and light are the same to me.  I am in both.

Will you trust me?  Will you come out and play? For you are my beloved and my grace is sufficient


“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Vincent van Gogh

  • Donna ostrom
    Posted at 09:48h, 22 September Reply

    As I read your very descriptive words..the verse came to mind: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God, Psalm 42:1-2. …and then the book Hinds Feet in High Places..which was so powerful for me! Thank you for reminder of now matter where we are..redemption is waiting there..right in front of us…we just need to reach out ..look for it..see it…and embrace revelation for redemption’s sake!

    • Tamara Carpenter
      Posted at 10:49h, 27 September Reply

      Thanks, Donna. I love Psalm 42, and Hinds Feet on High Places is also a favorite of mine. 🙂

  • Sharene (Traub) Pritchard
    Posted at 15:25h, 26 September Reply

    Wow! Hard to believe you would be questioning if you were a writer. Your thoughts on paper are incredible and, I’m sure inspired as God speaks through you every time. Thank you for stepping out in faith and writing. Brought me to tears as I too realized I am in that cave and often listening to the wrong voices. Encouraging to know I am not alone but, most important, there is a better way.

  • Tamara Carpenter
    Posted at 10:52h, 27 September Reply

    Sharene, glad to hear that putting words to my journey is bringing you encouragement. It encourages me to know you can relate. Appreciate your feedback. 🙂

  • Carol Lowry
    Posted at 13:09h, 27 September Reply

    So beautifully written. Reading through several times, seeing myself so much in your words. Then I noticed the date of your entry. September 21st…and the giggle echoed in my soul. Friday morning when we were reintroduced to each other. Each following a beckoning voice (heck, serving the same chicken chili) entering into the blazing light of day with renewed joy and connection. Keep your words coming, sister. They are a true embodiment of the life-giving WORD.

    • Tamara Carpenter
      Posted at 14:26h, 27 September Reply

      Carol, it was an absolutely perfect gift to run into you on Friday! So glad to reconnect. 🙂

  • Christy Allen
    Posted at 09:00h, 28 September Reply

    Thank you, Tamara, for so eloquently sharing with us your journey of finding your voice and creativity again. Bravo! This is an encouragement to me, as I often have felt similarly. I could relate to what you said about feeling like a fraud, and the idea of feelings being like obedient dogs, and wanting to hide in the cave. One of my art teachers once said that people often think that art comes easy to artists and that is always enjoyable. Or we think it should be that way. But, she said, art is often actually WAR! There are forces trying to shut us down, as you described. But let us move forward in God! And grab hold of what He has for us. Our inheritance. Our means of blessing others and ourselves. Expressing how God made us uniquely. I love that quote at the end by Van Gogh. I’ve never heard it before. Thanks!!

    • Tamara Carpenter
      Posted at 16:22h, 28 September Reply

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Christy! I never thought of art as being war. Rings true, though! I love your heart and look forward to seeing your next painting! 🙂

  • Carolyn Benson
    Posted at 12:43h, 01 November Reply

    Thanks Tamara for so transparently sharing the challenges along the journey, helping to normalize the spiritual battle and reminding us of important truths about walking by Faith..

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