This is the first blog post I’ve ever written – and it’s come about suddenly. Writing is my passion. I need to write, whether it’s on a computer screen, in my notebook, or on the side of my daughter’s box of muesli. But not many people have read my writing – yet. Only a few people have even seen my most recent story: God Turned Up Uninvited (http://www.thefoible.com).
But their reactions surprised me.
I asked three friends to check my story before I let it loose into the world.
“It made me feel hopeful,” said one.
“It made me feel hopeless,” said the other.
“Awesome!” said a third.
How was it that the chronicle of a semi-fictional character and his relationship with his past had such different effects on three people so close to me? Is this divide something I have to look forward to as my writing career matures? It isn’t comfortable. It doesn’t feel safe.
Follow your heart, they say. Write your truth, they say. But it sucks to know someone read a story that came from raw reality and didn’t like it. Even worse, they felt hurt by it. On the other hand, if the story gave hope to someone else, then perhaps it is a seed that could grow.
Parts of ‘God Turned Up Uninvited’ were embellished or completely made up. The inappropriate sneakers, for example, or the clattering of silver wine cruets against a hard church floor. But Mickey’s frustration with continuously disappointing those he loved, that was real. The disenchantment, the feeling of not being heard, and the lack of belonging. The fact that Mickey had to turn his back on God before he could really accept Him. That was all real.
And so was the hope, the happiness and the joy that Mickey found in his life.
One friend was hurt that “All God tells him is that he can carry on living his life and there’s no need to show any appreciation for God’s love for him, and to just make yourself the centre of everything because that’s all you have.”
Well, yes, that sort of is what God told Mickey. Not because it’s all you have, but because it’s all you need. And for people who belong to a religion where worship plays a central role, that can be an uncomfortable thing to read. But on a very, very simple scale, here is my logic:
1. ““You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
2. God is Everything. (Ephesians 4:6)
3. “I” am a component of the big everything.
4. God is “me”.
5. I am God.
6. I shall love myself with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind. And that involves being honest and truthful with yourself about who you are.
Change and growth are painful for everyone, but even more painful is being stuck somewhere you don’t belong. Whether that is in a religious group, in a political environment, a classroom, or any community where there are people enacting the stories of their lives in a way that doesn’t resonate with you. Nobody in Mickey’s past took the time to find out what he needed – instead he was expected to act as the rest of them acted, think the way they thought. As God said to Mickey, “There are many ways up the mountain,” and it turned out Mickey’s path just wasn’t the same as his mother’s. But he made it to the top, though, simply by following my logic. (I can do that, I’m the writer.) God might have turned up uninvited, but He turned up.
Writing about God and faith was always going to be a little bit risky, but it has forced a great deal of introspection and allowed me to give my core beliefs a little scratch and a sniff and really try to define them. Although I still don’t know how to feel about the idea that my writing could upset someone, or hurt them or make people feel divided, I simply can’t think how else to write. It has to be from the heart or not at all. And unfortunately it’s going to suck a lot of the time.
Of course, then I remind myself of what this is all about. The great parables and allegories in history have caused divide, discussion, and conflicting perspectives on the same truth. That’s why it’s so dangerous to claim that any one philosophy is more right than another – however right it is it looks very different from another angle.
That was why I created The Foible in the first place. And why, after a lot of head scratching last night, I’ve resolved to carry on with the project.
To read “God Turned Up Uninvited” and tell me what you think, visit: