Friday, April 22, 2011

The Good Friday Blind Spot

"Could not a book with just a masterful sliver of God in it carry the fullness of His message to the mind [. . .]?" Latayne asked on Wednesday.

My biggest mistakes as a writer have happened in the moments after I decided
I knew the whole story. When I thought I understood where the story must go and why. In those moments I relaxed into cliched phrases, pat answers, short cuts, and the easy way out. When I believed I knew what the story was "about", it was as if I had set a pot on the stove and simmered the contents to reduction. And in the dense mix there was no longer room for characters to speak and act their own truth. There was only slavish devotion to the singular point of my positive message. My desire to impart truth strangled the art of story, drained the mystery out of faith, and delivered a stillborn idea.

I'm learning to approach my writing with fear and trembling. I am a writer with faith, but I do not know the fullness of His mystery. Jesus came to earth, but I have no idea what it is like for God to slip into skin which sweats and burns and callouses. He was betrayed, but what is it to look into the eyes of the man who will sell you yet love him so intensely you will die for him? Jesus sweated blood in Gethsemane, but what is it like to teeter on the edge of spiritual and physical no-man's-land, to forge with your life a trail no one has walked before?
I'm learning to stop fooling myself into believing the life of faith is easily explained. That is can be summed up with a happy ending. That victory looks anything like we think it must.

I'm learning that the moment I believe I know the whole story - novel, or faith - is the moment I need to repent, and go a different way. The way where victory is not easily recognized, where success looks like losing your life, and the happy ending is no longer the point. I must abandon my pot of reductionist ideas, and embrace the vast wilderness of a love that costs us everything.

Let us get so lost as writers, as people, that we are willing to be led through the wilderness.

We at Novel Matters wish you a blessed Easter.

18 comments:

Megan Sayer said...

Bonnie I couldn't agree more. This is exactly what I have been learning yesterday and today through my own writing and my own life.
Funny how God repeats himself in so many people at once. This is why I keep coming back here.
I wish you all a wonderful Easter too.

Amy K. Sorrells said...

"Let us get so lost as writers, as people, that we are willing to be led through the wilderness." Wow and backwards wow. LOVE that, Bonnie!!! Thank you, and have a blessed Easter!!!

Jason and Emily said...

Bonnie, what a powerful message and one I needed to hear. I love the articles you women write, though I hardly ever post a commen to tell you all that. Thanks for all you do!
-Emily

Wendy Paine Miller said...

"I'm learning to stop fooling myself into believing the life of faith is easily explained."

So many great lines in this post!

I'm going to go get lost.

Happy Easter ladies!
~ Wendy

Lynn Dean said...

Love, love, love this! So profound!

Thank you.

Lynn Dean said...

Oops. For some reason the section I had reference to got lost in the posting process. Here 'tis:

The way where victory is not easily recognized, where success looks like losing your life, and the happy ending is no longer the point. I must abandon my pot of reductionist ideas, and embrace the vast wilderness of a love that costs us everything.

Nicole said...

Well said. To all of you a joyous Resurrection Day that came through the ultimate pain for our victory in Jesus.

Sara said...

Thank you

Sharon K. Souza said...

Bonnie, there's such truth in what you wrote today. We must do away with agenda when it comes to story and not be afraid to wander through the unknown. I always know my beginning and end, but I hold a very loose rein on the journey. I love the surprises I encounter, especially when I feel the Holy Spirit inspire me. That's an amazing feeling.

I wish you all a blessed Easter.

Zan Marie said...

Bonnie,
Absolutely wonderful. God works His mystery in ways far beyond our understanding. When we think we know the fullness of the mind of God, we've fooled ourselves.

Anonymous said...

A joyous and blessed Easter to each one of you!!

Bonnie Grove said...

Megan: It's true, the same Spirit teaches all of us. We're so connected because of Him. Happy easter!

Amy: Love that backwards wow. :) Peace be with you.

Emily: Thank you for popping in today with your words of encouragement. We all appreciate it so much! Blessings.

Wendy: Enjoy the wandering. Write about it. Even when it hurts. Peace.

Lynn: Thanks so much for you words of encouragement. We're all in this together! Blessed Easter to you.

Bonnie Grove said...

Nicole: Peace be with you.

Sara: You're welcome. Hugs to you this Easter.

Sharon: You're so wise. It's not that we have no idea what is going on in our novels - more that we are aware we are not the ones who decide what happens. Does that make sense?? :) Mwah!

Zan Marie: So true. God's thought are not our thoughts - they are so far above. And in the creative process we need to make room for His mystery, let it consume our self-assurance. Peace.

Anonymous: Thank you. Happy Easter to you, too.

Steve G said...

I have long been frustrated in how to articulate one of the shortcomings of Protestantism. The move to insist all "Christian" writing has to contain the "gospel" in 4 spiritual laws is so short of what salvation is. It is much more broader and deeper than that. Thanks for reminding us of how robust our faith really is. Great post!

Happy Easter all.

Susie M Finkbeiner said...

One of the things I love about the Bible is the mystery. It's a mystery that cannot and will not be solved by us, but only through Divine revelation! How exciting is that?

After all, if we could understand everything we would have no need for a Savior.

Bonnie Grove said...

Steve: Robust is right. We need to stop thinking we have God figured out and start truly exploring our faith. We need to stop thinking we can prescribe outcomes and actions to God. Mwah.

Susie: True! I've found the longer I walk this journey of faith, the more profound my need for a Savior becomes. It has been difficult to abandon my perceptions of who I think God is. But His grace won't allow me to cling to half truths and selfish hopes.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

HE is not a tame lion!
He handles mistakes so smoothly that they look like they're just part of the plan. And plans so succinctly it can all look like a mistake.
"It's not that we have no idea what is going on in our novels - more that we are aware we are not the ones who decide what happens. Does that make sense?? "
This make beautiful, fulfilling sense, Bonnie. The ride as He reveals plot and character development etc. is exhilarating! I stretch the skin of my face back as though flying through hyperspace and say, 'Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu!'
Happy Easter Everybody and Happy Writing!

Cynthia Davis said...

Thanks for this post. Perfect reminder for the day.
Blessed Easter to the Novel Matters writers and followers.