April 28, 2022 at 6:32 pm #150296
So, I’ve seen some blog posts/topics dealing with this, but I could really use some insights into my specific questions.
There have been plenty of posts discussing how writing about something is obviously not the same as doing it; as Christians we need to be separate from the world, but our stories should be truthful and show humanity as it is. Even the Bible does that. But what if there’s always the temptation to go further than necessary? Aren’t we supposed to flee temptation? Does that mean no more writing stories?
I find myself having sinful thoughts in regards to some of my characters, or sometimes, just wild thoughts in general, even if what I’m writing about is innocuous. Sometimes, even the most innocent things can trigger disgusting thoughts. I have a tendency to be legalistic and to agonize over details. On the one hand, I am aware that this could just be the devil trying to rob me of all my freedom and leave me paralyzed (and that has happened before – it got so bad I was just standing in my house, too paralyzed to do anything because everything felt sinful).
But on the other hand, there’s Matthew 18:8-9, which sounds like I need to get rid of anything that causes me to sin. I do know this verse is not promoting dismembering ourselves, and that sin is a heart issue. But we need to take sin seriously and know that nothing is more important than Jesus, even our stories. I hope that if I had to, I would be able to do away with all my stories and never write again if that’s what God wants – but I’m only going to do that if there’s a clear sin issue.
As it is, there’s some temptations, bad thoughts, but as I’ve said before, it’s hard to see where it might be stemming from. What if I just remove the parts in my stories that are clearly tempting me? But what if that’s everything?
I hoping that wisdom and discernment are the way to go here, since if I truly get rid of everything that causes me to sin or everything that tempts, I would have to become a hermit – and even then I would still be stuck with my stupid brain (and the devil). But I have been struggling with this for months without feeling peace and it’s driving me crazy – and one day I might just give up writing altogether just so I’m not agonizing over it anymore. I’ll feel peace, at least for a time before the next new thing for me to worry about comes up, but I’m not sure if it will be because I’m “obeying God” or just because I’ve eliminated the issue altogether, whether or not it was biblical.
I just want to do the right thing. I want to rest in Jesus and not worry that I’m not saved because of the possibility I’m practicing sin by pushing my will in regards to writing stories that tempt me, even if it’s just one part and not the whole thing. I want to honor him through my stories.
Am I agonizing over details or being legalistic? Is this important? Am I deceiving myself? I’m definitely confusing myself. I know that was a lot, and I hope I didn’t confuse anyone else. :p Any insights would be much appreciated.April 28, 2022 at 9:45 pm #150299K.M. Small@morreafirebird
This is a really good question, and I hope I’m not the only one who can say that I’ve also struggled with it. I’ve a couple thoughts that hopefully help, but initially, I found this article that I think addresses a lot of what you’re struggling with.
A couple thoughts:
1. Fiction is a mirror of reality. Reality contains evil. So I think it is impossible to be a storyteller without portraying that evil… to a degree. We as writers especially have control over what sort of darkness we expose our minds to, and we can adjust depending on what we know our weak points are.
2. The imagination is powerful, so we have to be careful about what kind of images we put into it. Now, that does not mean that all evil can’t be put in it. Think about the Passion and Death of Our Lord. You have a ton of violence, hatred, even nudity in there. Yet we mediate on it still (though with some filters, like clothing for Our Lord). But we mediate on it hating the evil, feeling sorrowful for its existence, and loving the good.
3. I think that’s how we as Christian storytellers should approach our writing. We discern filters (such as how detailed a kiss is described. I usually keep it at “they kissed for a moment” and move on in my head). Then when we portray evil, we beg God for the grace to look upon it as he did. With sorrow, and a righteous anger at the injustice of it.
4. In doing this,I think we have to be careful what our “mental screensaver” is. Are we spending a lot of time thinking about dark and violent scenes? We do need to plan them. But we don’t (and shouldn’t, I believe) stay stuck in them. I catch myself often going over heavy thematic moments with my characters that leave me feeling…well, heavy. Do I need to accurately and creatively portray that scene? Absolutely. Do I need to think about it as much as I do? Nope. It takes mental discipline. There are parts of my story I have changed, and habits as a writer that I have changed, in order to make my writing pleasing to God.
4. Thus, I think there ARE risks to being a storyteller in general. But I think with prudence, we can still safeguard our hearts and write works that teach people to love what is good and hate what is evil. It takes prayer. A lot of prayer. But God is faithful.
5. Personally, and from what I know about discernment, I would avoid making an ultimate decision while in a place of huge anxiety. Confusion and anxiety are not of God, and it’s difficult to hear his voice in the midst of them. If you want to pause on writing to give you some peace until you can discern better, that’s good. Or maybe talking to a pastor or parent orfriend can help too. I think when God convicts us of sin, it’s not in a way that terrifies us. It’s a quiet conviction in our hearts, gently but also very firmly urging us back to him. Like how he was with the woman caught in adultery. He knows your struggle and anxiety and wants to reach you and guide you toward truth. You’ll be in my prayers!!
"Beauty will save the world." - DostoevskyApril 29, 2022 at 11:27 am #150304Rose@rose-colored-fancy
Hi, I’m so glad you posted about this!
This whole story felt very familiar to me, especially these parts:
I find myself having sinful thoughts in regards to some of my characters, or sometimes, just wild thoughts in general, even if what I’m writing about is innocuous. Sometimes, even the most innocent things can trigger disgusting thoughts.
(and that has happened before – it got so bad I was just standing in my house, too paralyzed to do anything because everything felt sinful).
I struggled with this exact thing a few years ago. (This was before I became a writer, so it took a slightly different shape, but I know exactly what you mean)
Often, I’ve had thoughts that upset, disgusted, or unsettled me. They were almost always faith-related as well. It can be incredibly isolating and terrifying.
Your thoughts often aren’t a reflection of what you really think. They just happen. It’s not your fault. Sometimes your mind supplies thoughts you don’t agree with or that upset you.
It’s helped me to just take a deep breath and think “Okay, I had this thought. I don’t agree with it, because of X.” And then dismiss it.
You often can’t control the thoughts, just your reaction to them. For me, whenever I tried to suppress the thoughts, they instantly became worse and more frequent.
If they keep coming and you can’t think of anything else, it’s helped me to find a distraction. For others, prayer helps. I often found myself too distressed to pray. (Christian) music helped a lot, sometimes humming along with it to distract myself was just enough to pull me out of that spiral for a while.
As you mentioned, you don’t get dragged into these thoughts because you’re writing about them, they just happen even when you’re writing something unrelated. This might mean it’s not necessarily your writing that’s causing it. There might not be any cause. For me, there was never a definite cause. It just happened.
I completely second K.M:
Personally, and from what I know about discernment, I would avoid making an ultimate decision while in a place of huge anxiety. Confusion and anxiety are not of God, and it’s difficult to hear his voice in the midst of them. If you want to pause on writing to give you some peace until you can discern better, that’s good. Or maybe talking to a pastor or parent or friend can help too. I think when God convicts us of sin, it’s not in a way that terrifies us. It’s a quiet conviction in our hearts, gently but also very firmly urging us back to him. Like how he was with the woman caught in adultery. He knows your struggle and anxiety and wants to reach you and guide you toward truth. You’ll be in my prayers!!
This anxiety isn’t your fault, and God isn’t a God of chaos and anxiety. Many, many people have struggled with this too, and you’re never alone! Talking to someone about it often helps so much, even if it’s just someone to sympathize with you!
If writing is causing you distress, by all means, take a break from it! Don’t throw anything away, just shelve it for a while. If writing no longer brings you joy, you won’t be writing your best work, and you’ll enjoy it even less.
I hoped this helped some, I don’t really have any great advice, I just know what helped me, and I hope it might help you too 🙂
This too shall pass. I know it feels like forever but it will get easier. I’ll be praying for you!
Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?May 2, 2022 at 8:50 pm #150393May 7, 2022 at 6:55 am #150500Betty Wojtowicz@bettywoj
Keep writing! The devil wants to stop us from getting our messages out to the world. I’m sure you have a great message to share, so don’t let him keep you from doing that.
BettyMay 7, 2022 at 7:02 am #150501Betty Wojtowicz@bettywojMay 9, 2022 at 10:19 am #150545
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