Thursday, May 15, 2014

Miles-a-Minute Challenge #124: Step of Faith

Today's Video: "Faith Step"

Discuss/Describe one challenge God has placed in your life that makes you nervous

God has given me the talent to write, but I'm nervous about all it takes to become a published author - the promotion, the sending things out to publishers, etc. I kinda avoided all that till after high school. Now that I've started even thinking about it, I feel nervous. I feel nervous even sharing my stories with others - writing has always kinda been a private thing for me. And I'm not very thick-skinned when it comes to criticism; I'm actually very defensive. And mostly I'm nervous about messing things up, so I keep trying to read stuff about it, but there's so much to read, it's overwhelming. And I feel like my writing itself is suffering because I'm so worried what others will think of it. I'm having to actually work at my craft instead of it coming effortlessly. (Although sometimes that does still happen). I compare it to Lyra and the alethiometer in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. At first, in her time of innocence, she could read it effortlessly, by grace basically. But then when she grew up, when she gave in to her love for Will and her daemon became fixed (one's daemon becoming fixed is a metaphor of entering puberty in this series), she couldn't read the alethiometer anymore, not as she used to be able to do. Instead, she was going to have actually study how to do so, using books, if she wanted to keep the ability. 

Having to work at something I'm good at is hard for me to accept. I'm the kind of person who likes when it comes effortlessly and gives in to the magic of that. Sometimes the words do just flow, and I just give into it, let the muse take over and just write. Allow the beautiful alchemy of pen and imagination mix together and produce something amazing. In those moments, I feel as if I am the characters, as if for a moment they are real and their world is real, and I can see what they see, feel what they feel, hear what they hear, etc. 

But is it magic or God? I can't tell. I mean, we all have a sense of something more ("He has also set eternity in the human heart," Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV). And imagination is a powerful thing, something that God clearly has given all the variety and beauty of nature. And if we are made in his image, then we must have that attribute too. (In fact, I just looked it up - the word "imagination" originally comes from the Latin word imago, meaning "image," coming into English by way of another Latin word, the verb imaginari ["to picture to oneself"], then via Latin again [imaginato] and Old French to become imagination in Middle English [Chaucer's English]). It is through imagination that we create things. Animals create nests and stuff by instinct; humans, however, have rational thought and imagination. 

I am reminded of Tolkien's Ainulindalë ("Music of the Ainur") here (which is found in The Silmarillion). Eru Ilúvatar (the chief of the Ainur) instructs the other Ainur to lend their talents to create a Great Music. They do so, and this Great Music serves as the template for the creation and history of Arda (the world in which Middle-Earth and its environs exist within the greater universe of Eä). This is how it is described:

"And it came to pass that Ilúvatar called together all the Ainur and declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the splendour of its end amazed the Ainur; so that they bowed before Ilúvatar and were silent.

"Then Ilúvatar said to them: 'Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song.'"

Tolkien goes on from there, of course. But is that not a beautiful description? "Great beauty has been wakened into song." Wow.

God, please make me less nervous about writing, and about sharing my writing with others. Help me to use my talent for your glory, as I have always known I should, and through me waken into song the great beauty that is imagination and story. Amen.

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