Guest blogger Kim Shippey has traveled widely as an international journalist and is now a full-time writer and editor based in Boston. He spends his leisure time chasing footballs and grandchildren.
Innumerable surveys have been published in recent years about the importance of “social support” to moderate or buffer the impact of “psychosocial” stress on physical and mental health. This includes “burn-out” in various jobs–air-traffic controllers, surgeons, teachers, caregivers, and even professional writers. In newsrooms merciless deadlines take their toll, and writers working alone on book projects fear the menace of “writer’s block.”
But it’s been heartening to note how many studies have also explored the spiritual and religious aspects of support structures that lead to healing. One is a new book by Lisa Harper, due for release in September, Overextended . . . and Loving Most of It! (Thomas Nelson). Harper includes a chapter titled “Blasting Through Burn-Out,” and never hesitates to challenge her readers with questions such as, “What would God want for us?”
Harper suggests God would want us to “leap off our towering cliffs of fear, uncertainty, shame, anxiety, resentment, and religious propriety into the crystal blue sea of extravagant faith in Jesus and compassion for others, because we just know our divine Dad is in the water waiting for us.”
I happen to be deep into a poignant and comical novel by Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins. In the scene I’ve just read, a teenage boy is sitting at the feet of a would-be writer, who, even in the idyllic peace of the sun-drenched Italian coastline gets only one chapter done in seven years. He explains to the young boy: “A writer needs four things to achieve greatness–desire, disappointment, and the sea.” Continue reading