I love to write. It’s not a burden. Maybe it’s because I like it so much that it always gets put off – it’s a bit of an indulgence to take the night away and do something that I love. It is also hard work though, and there’s some doubt whether it pays off. I have some great followers of my blog out there – I hope that my posts help them as they look for the spiritual openings in their own lives. But tonight I also want to work on a short story idea I’ve been dreaming about. It may never be published, so is there value in this time?
I would never tell a client or a friend who loved to write short stories, whether or not they were published, that taking time to write them is a waste of important productive time. But I do say it to myself. How badly we treat the people we are closest to – even when we know better. There are plenty of psychologists and counselors out there who have published treatises on the lies we tell ourselves, the voices in our heads that beat ourselves up. But it’s not just a psychological problem – it’s a spiritual problem.
I have been trained to understand that God looks upon us with amazing love and grace. The forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers is in lieu of the judgment we deserve. God sees us as valuable and worth caring about, not for what we do, but simply for who we are.
But even I, with all my prayer and training, have a piece of my heart that is sure I have to earn that love, earn my own value even though Jesus gave it precisely because we cannot earn it. My creativity must be “productive,” in ways that I can see, rather than trusting that it is productive in ways that maybe only God can see. Drawing on the holy image of a parent, I saw value in my son’s “art” when he was young simply because it was his expression, not because it did anything for us or for the world in a tangible way.
Devotional writing, spiritual writing – it’s easy to see how God might be happy about that. Non-fiction writing that helps us build a better world, more in line with God’s kingdom – that seems worthwhile for sure. Even fictional writing that makes us think, has a moral or spiritual directive, educates us – nothing wrong with that. But a little piece of what probably will be fictional fluff, eh, it’s hard to make a case for its value. When I read that kind of thing, I call it a guilty pleasure, a trashy novel, a way of wasting time. How much more so if I take the time to write it?
But does the pleasure necessarily have to be guilty? If we trust the Divine, there is enough time to waste just a little of it. Because whether or not it is publishable, economically valuable, or even good writing, it’s a story swimming around in my head. There’s probably a message God has for me in it that I won’t see until it’s on the screen. It may not be the deepest message I’ve ever received from the Divine, but then again, maybe it will be. Who knows until I get it out there?
Do you have stories swimming in your mind that you would like to get out onto paper, if not out into the world? Does a piece of you think you have to always be “productive” and “successful” in order to earn God’s love? What is your guilty pleasure? Can you imagine God enjoying you experiencing joy and creative energy, even if the value of the “art” is not immediately apparent? When was the last time you picked up a new box of crayons and just drew something for the fun of it?
I’m off to write a short story or a book or a screenplay or a few sentences before I fall asleep and dream about it again. But I’d love to hear from you!