In the past week, I’ve written the majority of a feature length screenplay that I’m working on. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing it really hard. I didn’t get as much work done this weekend as I would have liked to, but that’s okay because I was volunteering at a film festival, which is probably equally productive in terms of preparation for making this film. I used up one of my volunteer tickets tonight to see The Congress (starring Robin Wright). It was certainly one of the most intriguing films I’ve ever seen, but I was almost tempted to leave early because I was hit with such strong inspiration for this blog.

Within the first fifteen minutes of the movie, I was thinking “Oh my God. This is amazing. I needed this so bad.” I stopped at that thought, feeling ridiculous. “What do you mean ‘you needed this?'” Then it hit me. I’ve not seen a good movie in a couple of months, which is shameful considering how devoted I was to seeing every film imaginable before awards season. I’ve been working my ass off trying to put something out without giving myself a chance to take anything in. One cannot exclusively be a producer; it is necessary that we’re also consumers. We have nothing to give when we’re empty. In art, it’s essential for inspiration and teaching. But it’s not just for art.

I don’t really think there’s a key to success. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all, sure fire formula to accomplish anything, but I’ve found something that’s currently working for me. I’ve recently realized that I literally cannot have a productive day without filling myself up with two things in the morning: breakfast and Jesus. I think the breakfast thing is pretty obviously productive because filling up first thing with breakfast means A) waking up in time to eat something considered breakfast, B) putting necessary nutrients into my body so that I’m capable of exerting energy, and C) I don’t know, I just really feel like I’ve got my shit together when I make breakfast. The Jesus thing, though, is even more essential (though it usually happens after breakfast for rumbly tummy reasons). Without Jesus, my day won’t just not be productive, it will literally fall apart. It’s not always been like that, though. I’ve had many a good day without Jesus in the past. You’d think the fact that I can hardly make it out of the bed without him these days would be alarming to me, as if there was some major spiritual block or something, but to be honest, I think it’s a sign of closeness with God. I’ve never been so dependent on him before, and I’m pretty pumped about it actually. You see, I make it a priority to fill myself up with Jesus first thing in the morning. I fill myself up with his love and his grace and his strength and his capability every morning so that I can put out that love and that grace and that strength and that capability. I’m not saying those days are perfect. I’m just saying that on those days, I have something to give to the world. I can’t really give anything to the world when I’m painfully empty.

The worst days, though… Those are the days I wake up and fill myself with me. Those are the days that I hop on my social media the minute my eyes open to see what the world thinks of me. I check my blog visitors and my youtube views. I fill myself up with myself, and while I’m pretty cool, the world doesn’t need me. What the world needs is love and grace and strength and capability. I wanna be someone who gives those things to the world.

I know that everyone wants to release something out into the air. We are designed by our Creator to give, but we are also designed by our Creator to receive. He wants to give us love and grace and strength and capability, and he wants us to give that to the people who won’t take it from him. So take it in. Whatever is true. Whatever is noble. Whatever is right. Whatever is lovely. Whatever is admirable. Take those things in first. And then give them out. We were not created for emptiness because emptiness can only give what it is– more emptiness. 

Whatever you want to give to the world– art, words, science, music, love– take those things in. Feel them so deeply that they flow through you and out of the tips of your fingers. You can’t give more than what you already have, so take it in. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, it was made for you to consume. Producing something excellent is praiseworthy in that excellence is a reflection of God himself. And the cool thing about filling up with God? Unlike filling up with anything or anyone else, he never runs dry. I can fill up with good movies all day long, and I should (maybe not all day long), but if that’s all I’m taking in, I’ll break even when I try to give. Filling up with God means never breaking even when you give. There is always more where that came from.

Don’t try to put out when you are empty. Don’t fill yourself up with crap. Fill yourself with what you want to put out.

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