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The Voice of the Christian Writer

Have you ever wondered about the impact you’re having?

I am tonight and mainly it’s because I’m not able to share in someone’s pain. My grandfather is dying and I want to be there, for him, my grandma, and my mom. But he’s too ashamed. So he’s distant. He wouldn’t admit it but he doesn’t believe death is natural. If he was willing to let me in, I don’t know that I could help him anyway, but I do know this desire to share in others’ pain is part of the reason I write.

We’ve all learned to show, don’t tell. But I don’t want to even “show” until I listen. I want to become aware of the enormous pain in the people around me, to hear it. And that means experiencing it myself.

I’m afraid, though, because I know what it means. I’ve experienced some things my grandpa hasn’t: namely, the unknowable depth of love that covers these unbearable sufferings. But he wouldn’t believe me. So I think to tell him in story. Can a story give him a sense of the unfathomable love surrounding us, the safety and security of that? At least the little bit I’ve experienced, I could try to convince him. I may not know his pain, but God does. Would a story be powerful enough, have resonance and speak of his reality? Is my measure of awareness big enough?

How I live would show through. Am I practiced enough to connect with the fact of his life slipping away as well as the fact of comfort? Am I too afraid? Is it too much for me? I look at Jesus who listened and saw it, saw the suffering and got closer to it. Focused on those he could help, those around him, he helped them and they helped others. His stamina and capacity to handle pain surely grew over time, just as my small handful of understanding will eventually reveal more of this universe packed with metaphor. I want to trust that God coming through the power of story will make up for my lack. I want to trust in the nuclear, viral power of story to break through. But can I?

I’ve written of the closer things, what I know. That’s where I’ve believed I could do the most good. What I’ve lived is what I have. I’ve shared about what was in front of me, let it speak of whatever universal truths it could, of this situation we’re all in. I know something of what I’m destined for and I’ve striven to reveal the bigger vision from my tiny sphere. But am I ready for this? Are we ever ready to really put our belief in the power of story to the test?

Life is metaphor upon metaphor. Earth, heaven, and hell presented in endlessly repeating relationships, mirroring each other and astonishing us over and over in endless transformations. I live in those connections. I explore them. My life is others’, my pain, their pain. I’ve seen the power of story create relatives of everyone, seen it carry God’s truth, teaching through representing, entertaining and awakening, showing me them and them me as we watch each other across time. The more layers, the more insights, the more life is reflected. It’s been my education to learn of myself and the world. If God designed story to teach me of his imbuing presence and who I am in him, can I pass that on now? If all of this has been my chance to experience God’s story given for me (Col 1:15—Jesus makes the invisible God visible, like a good metaphor), am I not to give my story to him?

Learning to follow Christ is like learning to write well.

A good metaphor describes a thing by telling you about something else.

All this is by design. Small things revealing the whole. The power of God, through us, in a simple story.

9 Responses to “The Voice of the Christian Writer”

  1. Mick, I’m so sorry about your grandfather. I’m with him – we weren’t created to deal with death, and the fact that we are cursed with it does not mean we are up to it. Listening is such a gift you give him. I’m praying God will help you communicate your love to your grandfather, and that through yours, God will communicate his own. God bless you.

  2. Tina H says:

    I deeply appreciate your honesty, and have struggled with similar questions before. As a fix-it girl, I’d love to offer advice or even just encouragement but for some reason I feel compelled to simply tell you I’m listening.

  3. Oh, Mick. I’m so sorry.
    I’ve been thinking some similar things lately. Life is metaphor, yes. And like all good story, life is conflict. We demand it in story, but it’s not so fun in life. Especially when our hearts feel like punching bags.
    I agree with Kathleen’s prayer. I also pray grace abounds to you, your grandfather, and all who love him. And may the mark on these days be redemption.
    Peace of Christ, my friend.

  4. If I am a story God has created, and I believe I am, will it stand critique? Is each word of my life appropriate for the context of each sentence and do the words and sentences combine to constantly say, “This is truth?”
    Truth is rarely beautiful. It often carries weight far beyond that of anything else.
    I’m the story that everyone else is reading–and some people I feel sorry for because they didn’t choose to read me and I’m not always pleasant or beautiful or even nice.
    And that’s where God is most evident.
    Leaving theological discussions aside, I think God puts people who are willing to be an open book (ha!) smack in the face of people who are searching for reading material.
    And even though I would rather not hear “Mommy. You’re lazy. Why is there a Christmas tree still in our living room?” God put that little book of mine and opened it to Flat Out Truth Chapter 423 (thousand eight hundred sixty-five or something like that. I can’t remember the exact chapter okay, it’s a big book)
    What’s your grandfather’s story and what truth does it tell you?
    My grandmother is in a nursing home with alcoholic dementia. For years, she closed me out of her real story choosing instead to feed me a story that she concocted. “I don’t drink.” “Then why do you smell like vodka?” “I don’t smell that way.”
    Okay. It’s me then. I’m imagining. Michelle, with the vivid imagination. Haha. Michelle, the storyteller. You know how she is. Always making things up.
    Yep. Learned from the best, didn’t I grandma?
    Now I watch her living with dead people and talking to people who are, well, dead. Reality is indescribable for her. The people she’s with are real, she just doesn’t know they’re dead.
    And I wonder. At any point in my life, did I open up to Flat Out Truth Chapter whatever? Did I ever stop being truthful? I don’t think I did. Then I ask God, “Did you ever expect me to be more than what I was?”
    And he didn’t.
    What he expects is every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter of my life to speak truth. Even if its ugly.
    Sorry I rambled. Guess you hit a nerve.

  5. Mick, my heart breaks for you and your grandfather. Death is not natural. It was never meant to be, and someday, it will exist no more. In the meantime, it hurts. Pain that claws and scratches at the most sensitive area, at tissue that’s barely had time to heal.
    Mich, you said “Truth is rarely beautiful.” Of course, I know what you mean, and I agree with you on what you mean. Truth is not some sentimental, shallow, fuzzy, Precious Moments (thank you, Barbara Nicolosi for that term) platitude.
    What I want to do is look at the terms. I would say that Beauty isn’t what’s always feels good at the outset. Rather, beauty is what is whole, complete, harmonious, and what is whole, complete, and harmonious is the story of both the Fall and Redemption. Truth is all four season–Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. It is sorrow, anticipation, and fulfillment. Truth is beautiful because Jesus is truth, and Jesus entered into the deepest suffering–suffering that I can never fully grasp. Then He broke the power of death and brought on the greatest triumph–triumph that I taste now but will someday fully experience.
    And that is beautiful. That is what carries us through.
    Sorry, Mick. I shouldn’t have gone on about that in this post because though I don’t know you, as your sister in Christ, I want to sit and share your suffering as Jesus shares it.

  6. “Life is metaphor upon metaphor. Earth, heaven, and hell presented in endlessly repeating relationships, mirroring each other and astonishing us over and over in endless transformations.”
    When you look into the mirror of life, you will see it all in pieces. Each time you look, you will be different and the reflection will be different, offering an endless combination of reflective experiences from which to pen transforming words… Isn’t God grand?

  7. I’m so sorry, Mick. It’s so hard to lose someone you love. Everyone here has said it so much better than I can.
    I lost my mother slowly. To Alzheimers. There were layers of pain, like tissue paper stuck on a window, by the time she passed away. I’m still peeling off that window, digging my way through the pain.
    Perhaps you could read your post to your grandfather. He might like to hear your thoughts, even though he may never say so.
    Love is a sacrificial gift. Not just the love of Christ’s death, but also the love of a young man spending time with his dying grandfather.
    Grace and peace to you in this difficult time–

  8. Ann Voskamp says:

    Wish I had known all this, this working away in you, when we crossed paths, Mick. I am sorry.
    Funny, in that sad kind of way, how life keeps reeling in when parts of us are snagged.
    You wanted to know if your measure of awareness was big enough?
    This post answers. Your words here called out for, warranted, re-reading, pondering. Stilling. Plumbing new depths.
    Words like that heal, Mick. For Grandpa too.
    I am praying.

  9. Ashley says:

    This is an online novel that holds you to the end. I wish Christians would read this romance/intrigue story.
    Hit The Sand Running is written by Duke Stevens.
    The author’s email is on the site noted.

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