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Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

Have you ever met anyone with a cold, unapproachable demeanor that made you think twice about talking to them?

You know, the If You Take One Step Closer I Will Bite You type?

curmudgeon

How do you usually respond to people like that?

I confess: I’m a fraidy cat. If someone’s expression or body language tells me they don’t want anything to do with me, I am quick to oblige and pass on by. And if for some reason I’m forced to speak to someone who’s stabbing me a hundred ways with their eyes, I’m sure I put off some kind of hunted prey fear hormone, making the encounter all the more nerve-racking.

Just once, I’d love to be that radiant soul who smiles anyway and has the nerve to clap the grump on the back and shower them with sweetness and light.

But life—and some great examples in fiction and film—have taught me that people are not always what they first appear to be. I am *learning* not to let a gruff demeanor fool me or keep me from reaching out or from caring. I didn’t say I’m finding it easy. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s so needed.

I personally have this weird soft spot for fictional curmudgeons. An example I’ll never forget is Margaret, in the novel Some Wildflower in My Heart. A woman named Birdie in the story is a beautiful example of the power of friendship. If you like the tough shell/broken heart type of story, you’ll definitely want read that one.

Speaking of tough shells, in Like a Love Song, Sue shoots off prickly vibes when she’s forced to hire Joe at her ranch for foster kids. She’s a no-nonsense gal with a tough demeanor. Joe is personally challenged to show Sue the love of God, despite her manner, and this woman doesn’t make it easy. But before long, Joe begins to see that her demeanor is only a protective shield for a deeply wounded heart.

The curmudgeon I’ve most recently fallen for is Ove from A Man Called Ove (novel & film). Have you met him? What a fascinating, heart-tugging contradiction he turns out to be! And how our feelings about him change as we get to know him. (I highly recommend this story; it will SHRED you.)

Ove 8-31-19

I’m convinced that God also has a soft spot for curmudgeons. He can see far more deeply into our neighbors than we ever can, and he’s not intimidated by a gruff demeanor. He knows the hurt, the disappointment, the loneliness. He knows what pain is being guarded by that prickly exterior. And not only is he not a fraidy cat, he’s interested in bringing a healing touch to those hurting places.

And I believe he’s interested in helping us fraidy cats muster the nerve to look beyond the “CLOSED” sign and give a lingering smile, offer a little friendship.

Let’s Talk: What other story comes to mind with a character like Sue or Ove—cold and unapproachable, but inwardly hurting and alone? Do you hesitate to approach people who seem to want to be left alone? Are you inclined to stop and speak anyway, or do you tend to pass on by? Have you ever gone out on a limb and approached someone who seemed gruff and found them to be surprisingly receptive?

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Between the Pages header

Hey, there!

I’m kicking off a new series of weekly blog posts under the heading Between the Pages. We’ll be taking a look at precious gems of Truth found in fiction and film. Each week, we’ll talk about some of the novels, characters, films, and other forms of story that have left an impression on our hearts, or have impacted our lives in some way.

Bridge-to-Haven_3001I recently read Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers. It’s a beautiful allegory, and it doesn’t take long to see how Ezekiel and his son Joshua—a carpenter—symbolize God and Jesus. How a fast-talking charmer deceives and lures the main character, Abra, away from those who love her and into a path of ruination. How quickly she becomes enslaved, and how, with every bridge she burns, she feels more and more separated from her father. How unforgivable and unlovable she believes herself to be.

It’s a powerful and painfully raw story. But life is often painful and raw. Gritty. Enslaving. And the consequences of our choices often hurt more than we ever anticipate. But to me, the most heartbreaking consequence isn’t Abra’s lost innocence or the degrading enslavement she finds herself in. It’s the assumption she is too far gone, and her bitter resolve to keep running away from God and never look back.

sad girl bridge

Have you ever believed a lie like this? Felt you’d burned too many bridges? Believed that God is fed up with your repeated failures and you might as well just give up? We see God through human eyes, and assign him human qualities, such as impatience, resentment, frustration, etc. Even the enemy of our souls, the father of lies, knows that God will not write you off, let you wander off, lost and alone.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  Luke 15:3-7

Jesus leaves the 99 and goes out in search of the one, his precious lost lamb, his beloved. He won’t force us to come home, but he will climb every hill and ford every stream and beckon to us, show us there is no place we can go that he has not already gone, no place we can hide that he is not already there.

The idea of leaving loved ones behind and believing oneself beyond redemption runs through my next book, Wings Like a Dove (Dec 2019). We’ll talk more about Anna’s story soon.

But in the meantime, let’s talk about burned bridges.

  • Have you ever burned a bridge with someone in your life? Left a trail of burned bridges? 
  • Have you ever felt you’d reached a point of no return with God or people in your life? 
  • Have you ever wanted to make amends, but didn’t know where to begin? How did you deal with it? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?
  • What advice would you give someone who feels they are truly unforgivable?
  • What stories or characters have left a lasting impression on you about the relentless love of God?

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I have finally decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as we word nerds call it.

This is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is something I’ve wanted to try but 1.) haven’t been in a place with novel projects to stop for a month and take part, and 2.) I have a steroid-crazed, muscle-bound inner editor who I fear won’t let me write non-stop without stopping to spend obscene amounts of time tweaking and editing.

But this is one of the beauties of NaNoWriMo. They help you (I’m told) learn to turn off the inner editor and just write glorious garbage like the wind. Something I’ve not done since Jr. High, and something, I suspect, could be very freeing and possibly even diamond-in-the-rough producing.  (All bets are off as this remains to be seen.) And since I’ve taken all of 2012 off of novel writing (the wedding was lovely!), I would love to end the year with at least the bones of a book in hand.

That inner editor can be helpful when the proper time comes to perfect all the nuances of grammar, style, rhythm, research facts, plausibility, plot holes, etc… the list is endless. The inner editor is an anal left-brain, shoulder-pinching, whispering detail-freak (at least mine is) who shuts down the right brain and stops the blood flow of creativity. There is a proper time and place for detail work. Unfortunately, some people, like me, can NOT figure out how to keep that thing from butting in when the Right Brain is trying to do its thing and get the story bones down.

Then of course there’s the problem of hearing voices in the first place, something that was probably nagging at the back of your mind, right? Oh, if you didn’t already know this about novelists, sorry.

There are voices you can listen to, and then there’s that other voice. The evil one. I get the inner editor’s voice confused with a very similar sounding voice, one that tells me what I just wrote was dripping dumpster slime. The one that whispers, “You thought you were a writer?” while hopping from one shoulder to the other, giggling. (Yes, this IS as disturbing as it sounds, be glad you don’t live near me.)

As a Christian, I understand the problem of listening to that lying enemy of our souls. Why is it that it takes no more than a tiny doubt-casting whisper to send us screeching to a halt in our walk of faith? It began in the garden with Eve, poor girl. “Did God really say…” It only takes one subtle seed to plant doubt, discontent and divisiveness that undermine and destroy. It takes going back repeatedly to the Voice of Truth, to God and his word, to tune out that crafty voice bent on complete destruction.

So as I prepare to block and tackle (holy moly, that sounds like defense and offense at the same time…) my inner editor, evil or otherwise, I will remember that I have a powerful weapon at my disposal: Truth. All I have to do is keep my eyes and heart trained on what’s true. And I have to trust God to keep me straight on that.

Just a little FYI: If during the month of November you see me plugging my ears and yelling “Shut up!” to no one at all, do not be alarmed, I’m totally fine.

And since I’m now preparing for this story and will then bear down like a rabid dog to get 50,000 words written in 30 days, you probably won’t see much from me in the way of blog posts, unless inspiration burns straight through my fingers. So your prayers and patience over the next several weeks are gratefully appreciated!

Q: How do you respond & deal with the devil’s critical lies?

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