We get so busy doing life that we miss the signs…the fatigue, the burnout, the sense that we’ve lost our focus. So what do we do about it when we realize it’s happening? Seek spiritual, professional, and personal renewal, And how, you may ask, do I do that? Well, that’s what we’re here to share with you today!
But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!
Why Renewal Matters
Scripture talks about renewal in several places, and it’s woven into the Gospel itself:
Colossians 3:9-10 says we’ve “taken off [our] old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV) says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
And Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We can’t take something this important, renewal, for granted. We need to regularly take stock and purposefully ask, “What needs renewal in our lives?”
But first let’s define renewal better…
WHAT IS RENEWAL?
Renewal: To make new spiritually
Merriam Webster gives one definition of renewal as “to make new spiritually.”
This isn’t the first definition listed, but we should cover it first, because for us as believers, it all starts with spiritual renewal. First, when we accept Christ, we go from death to life, but it doesn’t stop there. As we live out our faith, we experience—and need—spiritual renewal on a regular basis.
Now, we’re not saying you have to renew your acceptance of Christ. Once you accept His gift of salvation, He covers you with His blood and brings you into relationship with the Father.
No, we’re talking about renewing our commitment to living and following Christ. Why do we need that? Robert Robinson, the writer of “Come Thou Fount,” says it well:
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love…”
He wrote that in 1758, and we have not changed one bit since then. We need to stop and check in with our heart. It’s not “have we wandered from God?” It’s how and where have we wandered from God, and what do we need to do to get back?
Spiritual renewal comes in different ways for everyone. For Karen, it comes when she’s in nature, when she’s playing with her dogs. Through spending time reading God’s Word, or in focused prayer.
If you’re going to try focused time in prayer, one idea is to focus on who God is. What are the various qualities of God? Spend focused time thinking and praying about each one.
Consider spending time with friends who are believers. Talk about God and about living a life of faith. Conversations like those strengthen us, encourage us, and renew us. Another idea is to go on a spiritual retreat or a silent retreat. Take time to be still and know God is GOD. Let Him breathe new life into you.
There are many ways we can find renewal. But ultimately, we need to remember that renewal is in God’s hands. He does this for us, regardless of our location or efforts or anything.
“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” Isaiah 41:17-18
We don’t need to make renewal. We can’t do that. We need to ask for it, to desire it, but God makes it happen.
Renewal: To make like new, to restore to freshness or vigor
Another definition of renewal, and the first Webster listed, is: “to make like new : restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection.”
Let’s skip the notion of perfection. We’ll never achieve that. But take stock and ask yourself in what areas do you need new freshness or vigor?
- Physically tired, worn out, used up
- Or creatively burned out, like your ideas have dried up and withered
- Or maybe it’s professional and you feel like your career has gone stale, or you’ve noticed you’re doing the same old, same old with every book or article
- Or maybe you’re still new to writing, but you feel like your energy for finishing your first manuscript or even continuing to write has drained away
This is all normal. We go through times like this, where we need to be restored to freshness. And friends, that means we need to first stop and NOTICE that it happened, and second, take the time for renewal.
We can’t keep going when our physical bodies are at the breaking point. We don’t have an unlimited supply of energy. We have to manage our bodies. Listen to them and rest when we need to. Are you eating right? Sleeping? Ask yourself, are you doing anything restorative or are you just using up your body?
Creative energy is limited. We have to manage it well, using it where God directs. And we have to feed our creativity, to nurture it. Here are a few ideas to nurture or jump start your creativity:
- Get quiet.
- Distract Yourself. Let something or someone else do the work for awhile. Try:
Going to a movie
Babysitting a child
Visiting the art museum or gallery
- Do something relaxing. Take a bath or go for a bike ride. But take a pad and pencil or a mini-recorder along to capture ideas when they spark!
For more ideas see Karen’s Creativity Starters.
Be careful as you go forward. Pay attention to how you’re using your creative energy. Plan your activities with an alternation of creativity use and creativity restoration.
When you’re evaluating your writing, if you’ve been writing the same old, same old, chances are your readers are noticing that too. Don’t hear us say you should change your brand. We’re saying it’s time to deliberately search for ways to freshen your writing.
● Take a weekend and read a new writing book, even if you’ve been writing for decades. Or, broaden the source of your stimuli, what you take in everyday. Creativity is about making connections across disciplines and ideas.
Take a class or go to a seminar in something completely new, something you’ve always been interested in but never took the time.
Go to a vineyard, learn to play chess, take up calligraphy, learn a new language, or how to bake bread over rocks at a campfire. Whatever.
Infusing your brain with new ideas and experiences will infuse your writing.
- If you’re just tired of writing, it’s time to think back and remember why you started writing in the first place. What drew you to it? In the midst of discouragement, deadlines, or delays, what still draws you to it? Write that down. Pray about it. See what God is telling you. Maybe it’s time to stop writing. Priorities change, passions change, interests change. There’s nothing wrong with moving on if that’s what you feel God is telling you.
- Or maybe it’s time to let God remind you of all the ways your writing pleases Him. All the ways it helps you grow, all the ways it helps you be conformed to the image of Christ.
Renewal: To Restore to Existence, Revive
Another definition of renewal from Webster’s is “to restore to existence, to revive.”
Restoring to Existence
There’s an example of this in the Bible. In 2 Kings, chapters 22-23, at King Josiah’s command, the Israelites restore the temple, and they find the Book of the Law, God’s covenant, which the whole nation seems to have forgotten about. Josiah realizes they haven’t been keeping the commands and he tears his clothes. They rededicate themselves to following God’s laws, to being His people, and have a ceremony to outwardly show the renewal of the covenant.
Maybe you’ve gotten side-tracked from writing. Like the Book of the Law, it’s gotten lost, buried under business or other activities. Or, maybe you had to completely step away for a while.
Take the time to re-evaluate.
It could be time for you to recommit. To make plans again. To set goals and follow through. For some, it helps to have a ceremony of some sort to mark your restoration. This could be as simple as going to the store to buy a new journal, or writing down a new and improved mission statement, or going out with friends or family to celebrate your commitment.
Or, perhaps it ISN’T time to restore your writing time. But that’s okay. You’ve considered it and can move forward with peace. Even if that’s hard because you want to be writing, you know there’s been thought and prayer behind not writing. It’s a decision, not something you drifted to.
One of the things I (Karen) love about spring is seeing my perennials revived. They come back to life.
Maybe your writing career feels like it’s frozen, too. Contracts dried up or got cancelled, and your career seems to have died without your consent. How do you restore that? First and foremost, pray. Submit your career, your writing, your passion to God and ask for His wisdom and guidance.
Then consider if you should try a different genre. If you feel God telling you to keep writing what you know and love, then keep writing. Remember, this is about obedience. And when you obey God, even when it doesn’t make sense to you, your spirit will be renewed.
Sometimes we need physical restoration. Perhaps we’ve been debilitatingly sick, or broken a bone, or we needed a surgery of some sort.
We can’t help those things, but what we can do is make sure we’re regularly evaluating: are we ready to re-establish physical activity?
Are my bones healed? Is my body over its illness? We have to ask because it’s easy to slip into complacency and never get back to physical activity.
If your body is ready, excellent. Pick out your first day to get back to work and then, hear me, TAKE IT SLOW. If you’re not ready yet, that’s okay too. You’ve done the work to check.
It’s so easy to get busy and stop exercising. That’s why we need to make time to check in, to evaluate what needs to be re-established in your life that will help you be restored.
Renewal: To Make Extensive Changes
The next definition of renewal from Webster is “to make extensive changes in.”
As writers, we’re painfully aware of the concept of revisions: to make extensive changes in our manuscript. But we need to regularly apply this idea of revision to our lives. Not everyday—but perhaps monthly, quarterly, or whatever is appropriate.
Look at the different areas of your life: your work life, your family life, your relationships with others. Your behavior. Your attitudes. Your health.
Are there revisions you need to make? What’s working? What’s not working? What could be tweaked to be better? What needs a complete overhaul?
Then make a plan to tackle that. Thinking about renewal is only half the battle. The easier half. You have to decide how you want to put your revisions into practice.
Renewal: To Grant an extension
One last definition we should talk about is “to grant or obtain an extension of or on.”
It’s easy for us to get locked into a timetable of our own creation. We become slaves to it, and we get stressed, frustrated, and discouraged if, or I should say when, we can’t live up to it.
So much needless worry comes in our lives when we think we’re in charge of what ultimately is God’s domain: His sovereign will, His perfect timing.
For this kind of evaluation, look at your deadlines. Are they self-imposed or not? Are they causing you stress?
We’re not saying deadlines are bad. Realistic goals are excellent. They help push us to completing projects. But it’s also wise to re-evaluate the time tables you create and adjust them when necessary.
It’s all about trust. Do we trust that God is in control or are we letting our own deadlines rule over us?
Remember, we can and should seek renewal, but it’s God who does the work. “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV)
If God has given you the task to write, be ready and willing to rekindle it. “I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2 Timothy 1:6Renewal. We all need it. Happily, God is ready and waiting to give it to you! #amwriting @karenball1 Click To Tweet
We want to hear from you
In what area of your life do you most need renewal right now? What are your ideas for how to be renewed?
Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!
Special thanks to our March sponsor of the month, Stacy McLain. Stacy’s been hard at work on her first book—a Christian speculative fiction called Make Known the Path, so be watching for that!
Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous sound editing!
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