reflection


Within the past few years, I’ve heard numerous sermons defining “neighbor” in the “love your neighbor” commandment.  These recent sermons have taken my close-to-home definition and expanded it to a global level, which is a definition I’d rather not have known.

Not that I was doing a great job of loving my neighbors in the apartments around mine (or now the houses around mine), but the commandment, with its new definition, ignited fear within me.  To be terrified of flying and to think that I now needed to somehow force myself to go to Africa to fulfill this commandment made me feel like a failure.  A role I’m not comfortable with.

I also strapped on to this new “neighbor” definition a requirement, in my mind, that I needed to build houses or somehow meet my neighbors’ physical needs in order to love them well.  Not being even the slightest bit skilled in carpentry or masonry, I again felt like a failure, knowing that there was no way I could build houses for these people out of anything more than Legos (and even that may be stretching it).

So to rid myself of those self-defeating thoughts, I went back to what I know:  I know how to listen well. 

On numerous occasions, I’ve been sought out by people I’ve barely met so that they could share their deepest, darkest secrets with me.  I guess I come across as a “safe” person.  And I’ve tried to use this in my job to help people feel like they’ve been heard.  Like what they say matters, even if in the end it doesn’t change their overall situation.

How many people walk around frustrated because they don’t feel heard?  I think the millions of blogs in cyberspace give us an indication that the number is tremendous.  People want their voice to be heard, even if it’s just a random person stopping by to read what’s on their minds.  

Just as Michelle mentioned, I’ve got to get to know people before I can love them well.  For me, I think listening is the first step.  I need to be willing to pay attention to those who aren’t given the time of day.  I need to be willing to stop what I’m doing and lend an ear, even when no one else wants to.  Especially when no one else wants to.

Maybe this is very elementary, but I think that one way I can love my neighbor is by listening.  Now it’s just a matter of being intentional about it.

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Being a Type A personality, I realize that I have a few control issues.  I’ve come to grips with that and have been trying to see how that plays out in different areas of my life. 

With regard to my writing, I thought my control issues were related to constant editing–a desire to have sentences properly constructed and punctuated.  And then I came across this on p.161 in Writing Down the Bones Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg:

Some people are afraid of space and so fill every nook and cranny.  It is analogous to  our mind’s fear of emptiness, so the mind constantly stirs up thoughts and dramas.  But I think it is different with a writing space.  A little apparent disorder is an indication of the fertility of the mind and someone that is actively creating.  A perfect [writing] studio has always told me that the person is afraid of his own mind and is reflecting in his outward space an inward need for control.  Creativity is just the opposite:  it is a loss of control. 

Well, no wonder I often struggle with coming up with something creative!  My writing space could have its picture beside the word “organized” in the dictionary.  It is the antithesis of “loss of control,” and thus creativity. 

I feel better (more in control) when things are organized and had thought that this would allow my brain to concentrate on writing.  But maybe a splash of color or putting some objects other than books and a computer on my writing desk would fuel some creativity. 

What does your writing space say about you?  What have you done to make it a place where creativity ignites?

One of the things this group has helped me do is to just say it.  To say that yes, I am a wr..wri…writer.  No, I’m not going pro anytime soon, but after years of denial, it feels so good to finally be around like-minded women who share my passion.  Still, though, I don’t share this with any Joe-shmoe. 

So last weekend we went swimming over at our new neighbor’s house.  We were doing the normal get-to-know you chit-chat when the guy and I started to talk about films.  He seemed to have quite a bit of knowledge when I said, “Yeah, I’m a writer.”  Actually, I’m sure I threw in a “kind of” before the “a writer” part, but nonetheless, I got it out.  And boy did it feel good…for about 1/10 of second when he replied, “Oh yeah, my Dad’s a writer.”  Hmmmm.  “What does he write?”  I asked.  Turns out this guy’s Dad is a legendary screenwriter, producer, and did I mention…an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker!!  Right.  Ok, did I just tell this guy I was a writer? 

Ok, I know I’m still a writer and this is a God-given passion.  I know that I need to just learn from those who have walked before me. . . I know, I know, I know.  But that was a BIG bite of humble pie and as bitter as it always tastes, it usually keeps me from going back for more.  I don’t want to cower in the midst of more serious writers, more successful writers, but like some of us say in our group, “Who am I kidding?” 

How do you all react to more successful writers?  Do you ever find yourself “playing down” your writing to those people?  Share a humbling moment 🙂

 

I caught the end of a piece playing on a classical radio station recently.  Afterwards, the announcer described the piece as having an “added sixth,” which he said that composers often used to hint at eternity.   The last note of that piece kept gnawing at me because, just as the announcer had explained, it denoted a hint of eternity or hope beyond the end of the piece.

I took piano lessons for eight years and didn’t remember the “added sixth.”  I jolted my memory with a little online research and found that it is the “[m]usical term invented by the French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau to describe the addition of a sixth from the bass to a subdominant chord when it is followed by the tonic chord.”  Basically, an A added to the C-Major chord of C-E-G.  (If you have a musical instrument nearby, play this and see what you hear.)

With that explained, I began to wonder how this interesting concept could be translated to written works other than music.  I liked how that one little note, added to a piece filled with other notes, left the listener wondering.  Hoping.

When I write, I want to give readers hope.  Not just a hope, but THE hope that comes from Christ.  But I don’t want it to be formulaic or a repeat presentation of the Gospel over and over again.  I want it to be like that one added sixth, which isn’t the same note for every piece.   For creativity like that, I have to depend on God’s guidance.  And although I don’t know what the “added sixth” will look like for my pieces, I look forward to seeing what God provides.

In what ways have you been able to add a bit of hope or hint at eternity in your writing?

 

I missed my last posting….so thought I would double up this time to make up for it.

DELETE

I am not big on editing ( as maybe I have mentioned before).  I brain dump when I write.  Kind of like the pensive Dumbledorf has in the Harry Potter series. I write to remember, to process and hopefully connect.

But even a girl like me is fond of the delete button.  I can’t tell you the number of blogs that have been erased before ever making it on to the world wide web.  It makes me miss the old fashioned journal a bit.  There was no deleting there.  It all remained.  The good with the bad.

I hit delete for different reasons. Because I can’t get the words out quite right.  Because I am afraid to offend.  Because it isn’t as good as my friend’s postings.  Because I am not sure will know relate to what I am talking about and confirm that indeed I am some kind of freak. Because I am afraid it stinks.

I’m sure you can see the common theme. Fear. Hitting delete is far easier than facing these fears.  I wonder what kinds of wonders real writers curmpled up and threw in their trashcans?  Yes, some of what comes out is junk. Even from the best of us……….and maybe not every little thought deserves to go up on my blog ( or even worse this writers group one)…..but fear should not be the deciding factor.

Ready for the irony?  I am running out of things to say here and questioning this post in the first place.  The delete button to my right is looking really tempting.   I will leave it, even if this is not my “best” work so that the rest of you will think twice about hitting delete. 

A DIFFERENT VIEW

Our titles define how we see things.

Our eye adjusts to the names we call ourselves.  Christian. Mom. Friend. Daughter.  If I am watching a movie as a mom, I notice every cuss word.  If I am out with a friend, I am just as likely to let a few slip.

One of my good friends recently took up photography and we keep talking about having a good eye for shots, lighting, moments and so on.  A good camera can only get you so far.  Your eye has to do the rest.  This is true of all artists.  Especially writers.  My finished product may not be a visual one but it all begins with a writer’s eye.  When I am writing consistently moments happen differently.  I seem to notice more details.  Remember funny phrases and process my emotions simultaneously.  When I am not writing – sometimes they just happen.  I might remember them later.  I pay more attention when I take in a scene or event as a writer, in addition to whatever other role I am playing at the time.  Even the mundane boring moments can find richness and depth that I would not have noticed otherwise.

I often think,   “I should blog about this” and my writing eye kicks in.  Unlike the photographer I am not hiding behind a lens.  I am in the middle of it, trying to memorize as much of it as I can.  I don’t always remember to get it down on paper………but the experience is always enhanced. 

Is this the norm?  Do the rest of you see things differently when you are writing consistently or is your “eye” just always on?

 

Not that you could tell from my own blog, but I really do think blogging is the coolest.  It’s like driving by someone’s house and looking thru their windows at night.  You get a glimpse into their life and boy is it good…most of the time.  But I suppose I’ve always been the person to close the curtains when the sun goes down and the lights turn on so that no one gets that little glimpse of me.  Call it privacy, insecurity, whatever you’d like; it’s just hard for me to let people into my private world. 

I really only set up my blog because this Writer’s Group made me.  Joking, of course, but it was hinted at strongly.  🙂  I don’t want my blog to be a theme like motherhood or spirituality or film reviews or politics – all of those things are me, but I don’t want to compartmentalize myself with my writing.  I am all of those things and not limited to any of them.  And essentially, blogging is just for fun for me.  I have bigger projects that I want to work on, so when I blog it’s really more of an antecdote.  You would think it would be easy to find something to write about, and it is, but I often think, “I should blog about that,”  and don’t.  Maybe I think the post would be dumb, maybe it would offend someone, maybe it would just sit out there in space and not get any comments like a bad haircut…or maybe I just wait too long to write and it seems irrelevant later. 

The question to fellow bloggers…Do you have hang-ups about posting?  And how do you remain consistent about posting? 

(ack! this didn’t get posted yesterday . . .sorry!)

Some of us aspire to be published authors of books or magazine articles or devotionals. Others simply write because we don’t know how to walk through life without it. Regardless, God has implanted within us a gift and a passion to write. When I attended my first writer’s conference, I spent the first day walking around in awe, and the next couple days feeling completely out of place. Why did I ever consider myself to be a writer? That evening, our keynote speaker (Liz Curtis Higgs) spoke directly to my overwhelmed heart. She said that those of us who desire to write seem to think everyone carries that same desire, but the reality is, not everyone does. So if we feel it, then God put it there. And if God put it there, we can’t bury our gift. It may be that He has called us to write the next Great American Novel. Or it may be that we use our words to encourage those in our lives through hand-written notes or emails. Regardless, we must use our gift.

I left that evening encouraged to use my gift no matter where that took me. Publication or not. Fame or obscurity. I knew that God would use my small offering for His glory, and I was finally willing to offer it. I’ve since published a couple articles, continue to think about book ideas, and blog (of course!) But I also try to take the time to write notes of encouragement or give a gift of written prayer from time to time. I’m just trying to be a good steward of this passion for words that He has given me.

So, how about you? How are you using your gift of words – even in a small way – today?

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