The Eyes of Experience

Eyes of Experience
'I do not think that you can be changing the end of a song or a story like that, as though it were quite separate from the rest. I think the end of a story is part of it from the beginning.'
Conn
The Shining Company Rosemary Sutcliff

It is pretty much a known fact in literary circles, that the art of writing for even the most extrovert persons among us can be a lonely business - though for the most part a joyful one! For me, writing has often been a sort of therapy, a way of escape and relief from the stress of life even when it has been hardest to pen those aching words and bleed out those stories of my heart. I am by nature a very bubbly people-person, and absolutely love spending time with my family and friends. But I confess, there are times that I long to bury my head in the sand like a fanciful ostrich; and just delve into my imagination and scribbles. Sometimes, when the world is especially cruel, when people just don't make sense and disappointments crash on top of each other, I become something close to introverted. I detest 'disturbances' with a vexation that makes me blind to the reality that this is normal life. I then flee into the little world of my literary life. I cry my heart out into epic stories and heroic characters and plots of heart-wrenching proportions. That attitude makes me numb to the aches and sorrows around me, but also to what is beautiful and glorious, even in strained harpsongs and catches of ancient blessed tunes. And then I think of those around me, and say I will write deep themes to inspire and help lift others up!

But lately, I’ve felt the Lord showing me that in doing so, I was acting in a shallow, self-centred manner. In fact, this attitude is so opposite to the way of Christ. C.S. Lewis' book, Surprised by Joy, startled me with this thought as I saw what it was doing to me... but also to what I was writing. The truth is, we cannot write what is both real and meaningful in our books if we shrink from any of life's experiences, trials and friendships, loves and hurts. We won't be able to write deep devotional and spiritual truths in stories, if we are not praying and living them out ourselves - and learning from them.

The lessons we acquire from the mountains and valleys we journey and the attitudes we have will forever mold their way into our stories. It will influence the perspectives of our characters, the situations and relationships they go through. But I do not mean that we should go strutting through life in a happy-go-lucky attitude that is always laughing in the face of adversity. Truth be told, it is usually the 'darker' threads amid the gold of our lives that are worth the telling in tales of greatness. What I mean is when you and I face some trial, some obstacle or hurt, we instead need to pause and realize the Sovereign plan our Heavenly Father has for us. God is making you go through a journey of growth through the experience of pain and suffering for a purpose - to make you more like Him and conform to His glorious image. Oh! instead of 'escaping', let us instead thank the Lord for those lessons; let us trust that He'll accomplish what He pleases in you and me. The things we face will, by God's grace, help us mature in godliness and wisdom, not only for ourselves, but also for for our writing.

I think of examples of men and women who stood through such trials and grew from them so that what they created became all the more rich and powerful: J.R.R. Tolkien faced the terror of death in WWI and saw his friends die in horrific battles such as the Somme - yet he also found the beautiful and transcendent in his life and was inspired to write flesh and blood heroes who still live in our hearts and imaginations - Frodo and Sam, Aragorn, Bilbo and Thorin. I think of the story my sister once told me of Beethoven - how some of his greatest masterpieces were composed after he became stone-deaf, and how through the agony of his soul beautiful music was born. Elizabeth Elliot may not have been the inspirational and godly writer that she is today if it were not for the martyrdom of her husband, Jim Elliot, or the many painful lessons she went through in the jungles of Ecuador as she learnt what it means to forgive one's enemies, be still before the Lord and trust Him with quiet assurance the way she did.

Nonetheless, even with all of life's experiences, our writing ought to be filled with a sense of hopeful longing for what 'might have been' or what 'will be', even if we have not personally gone through such things ourselves. The tale of our lives is like a tapestry. We see the upside-down side...only the shadow of tangled threads; But God sees it all...the ugly black stitches and the beautiful full picture too. But experience gives those longings some depth, I think. Many of my most loved characters and scenes that I have written have in fact been inspired from lessons and trials I've gone through myself or from what I've learnt from others. Those experiences made little sense at the time. But now that I look back, I see how much the Lord has worked in my life things which in turn influenced my stories for an ultimate good. 

My mind flits to that beautiful scene in the Disney movie, Tangled, when Rapunzel would see from her window on her birthdays the distant special lights of the city float to the sky, and how it filled her with longing. But when she went out that day and saw those lamps, it all finally made sense. She saw the light... and it changed her whole life! In the same way, when we see things from a human perspective, it can at best be only a glimmer of something beautiful, but most times quite dreary and hopeless. But when we look through the eyes of Jesus, all things will be new. He is the Author of all beauty, all songs to be sung, all tales to be written and told. And if we dwell and abide in Him, and ask Him to teach us to see all things through His eyes, we will also be able to write that way too. We will see what we were meant to see all along - in our own little personal story... in our far flung dreams and hopes... in those quiet times of prayer and rejoicing in God's Presence... in the tears trickling down a sister's cheek as she shares her heart with you... in the little freckle-faced smile of a curly-headed baby... in the stalks of dew-green grass between golden heads of dandelions at your feet... and in the mundane-ness of an Algebra equation;  in doing what you are meant to do...in learning what you are meant to learn... and in appreciating what God has given you and me through life and experience...)

Then, we can truly write a story of beauty.
 Then, we can write a story from its beginning to its end. 

Comments

  1. Yes. So much yes.
    My mind has been running along the same lines recently and just.... yes. *hugs her darling Samwise* I love you, Joy. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, darling Annie! <3 It makes me glad to know our minds have jutted across a similar path on this topic. I am glad you too feel the same about the effect of life experiences and what the Lord is doing and teaching us in our writing. And I love you too, my darling Samwise friend! <3 *hugs*

      Delete
  2. Beautiful, Joy. While I hadn't actually put it into so many words, I have been experiencing this - that plans go awry, but for a purpose. Praise the Lord for His never ending faithfulness to us!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, dearest Emily, for your sweet words. It makes me glad to know you found an echo of feeling through this post. How true it is, the Lord's faithfulness is unending!

      Delete
  3. This is so beautiful, Joy. Thanks for sharing!! =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Emily Ann :). I am glad you liked this post!

      Delete
  4. Thanks for sharing, Joy. It is so true, these life experiences form the very stuff and meat of writing! Amen... in trusting in and looking unto the Author of all beauty, we have a hope so great.
    Thanks again for putting onto paper these beautiful and thought provoking truths!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, dear Maddy, thank you for your sweet, encouraging comment! I am glad you enjoyed this post, faltering and imperfect as it is. But yes, amen, I like to remember the thing a blind Christian woman I know said, 'It isn't well with my circumstances, but it is well with my soul!' Such words remind me to thank the Lord for the experiences, joyful and sad, painful or hopeful, He allows His children to pass through, for He has such a plan to "work all things together for good" to those who love Him. I am definitely learning that experience and maturity, and the willingness to expose and struggle through some of the personal vulnerability in one's life enriches the writings of one's pen greatly.

      Much love!

      Delete
  5. So glad I just found your blog. It and your words are beautiful and inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much, @LeeAnn :) <3

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body..." ~Proverbs 16:24

It is a great delight to hear from viewers of this blog! Comments always make blogging a lot more fun, rewarding, engaging as well as being a blessing. So please type away! I try, busy schedule not hindering, to respond to each comment. And while you're at it, it will be lovely if you could sign the Guestbook page. Just please remember to keep your comments gracious and God-honouring at all times. Thank you!