Learning to Love, Part 3 – To read at Seriously Write CLICK.
As Christians writers, we have a war within ourselves. Creativity can demand almost idolatrous obedience. We can worship our words, our writerly needs, and our artistic process. Simultaneously, our belief in Christ and the inward presence of his Spirit transform us into people who place others first, submit our work to the Lord, and have no other gods before him.
As we begin the writing journey, this tug of war is one of the first battles we face. How do we keep Christ first, people next, and our creative work in its place? How do we let love of God and of others rule?
We start by keeping our time in God’s Word prioritized and our hearts attuned, ready to listen. His Spirit speaks to us gently, not with a whip like our creative monster sometimes may use, demanding precedence and obeisance.
Adapting my writing to fit the needs of my husband and children has been a work in progress. Initially, I didn’t do well, so I laid writing aside for a season. Finally I began again, learning to stay balanced. Within my own family, I obtain daily practice, and thus, constant improvement in loving people ahead of task, calling, or deadline.
To help others, the Lord may have us take our writing with us. One of a writer’s greatest blessings is that, when necessary, our trade is portable and relatively adaptable to different locations and schedules. As always, that’s easier said than done.
Writing in a different place with interruptions or adjustments can make particular kinds of writing, such as drafting a novel, fraught with anxiety and pressure. We then work fast and sloppy. For other writing, such as editing, interruptions are more easily accommodated and can be a necessary part of the process, keeping our brains sharp.
With amazing speed, I can pack my computer and go watch my grandchildren when their parents travel. This is the type of interruption grandmother’s love.
My husband and I live far from our parents. Adjusting my writing to show unconditional love to our parents has been required on fewer occasions, but these events have not been commonplace.
As I prepared my first novel to be passed to my editor in 2013, my mother-in-law was dying. Love demanded adjusting my work to meet my husband’s needs and her requests simultaneously. In order to help ease the loss, I did everything I could to accommodate both. As a result, he vanished for six weeks in various time chunks of traveling back and forth repeatedly, and we made the trip twice as a family.
The grief, traveling, and family pain that accompanied the loss of his mother caused tumultuous upheaval and a realization that I was woefully overcommitted. After the funeral I was completely depleted and caught Epstein Barr. The mononucleosis wiped me out, and I have yet to recover over two years later.
When I imagined the outcome of selling my stories, I didn’t have this in mind. It definitely wasn’t what I’d visualized!
But remember the promise that underlies even a believer’s tragedy. God has promised that he will orchestrate for good everything that touches the lives of those who love him.
Remember my realization of over commitment? Through my illness God brought good changes into my life. All but two activities have been eliminated. I now write, and I serve once a week in the prison. Now I can keep up with my family and prioritize my health.
This month I am far from home with computer and chronic health care equipment in tow.
My mother scheduled her major surgery, we scheduled my flight, and I prepared to head out. Of course, that was the moment my novel returned from my content editor for my final edit. The Lord is seeing me through what needs to be done. He superintends my days.
As you strive for balance as a writer, listen to his voice. It’s the gentle one. Are you learning to let love rule?
To follow the discussion at Seriously Write, click HERE.