15 Comments

A Calling

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“I don’t see why writing fiction is really important. It’s just secular entertainment.”

I didn’t respond to my friend’s words but inside I felt guilty. Maybe he was right. Maybe I should be more focused on winning people for Christ and less focused on writing fiction. Would my stories mean anything in the eternal scheme of things anyway? Was I just wasting my time?

Several years ago this was me. In my early twenties I became friends with a group of people who viewed my writing, at best, as a cute hobby and at its worst, as a distraction from more important things. In an effort to fit in, I stopped being myself. I stopped talking about and doing the things I loved and pretended they didn’t matter to me. I tried to fit the mold of what I thought others wanted because, after all, didn’t I want to be godly?

My family noticed the inconsistencies and the struggle I was going through. They were the first to see I wasn’t being myself anymore. I was the girl who’d grown up on Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, the girl who’d always known she wanted to be a writer. But can’t you see that it’s not important? Can’t you see that I can’t be godly and write fiction? These weren’t my exact words but it’s definitely where my thinking was headed at the time. I was at war with myself and I was miserable. During the next couple of years God graciously worked in my life. He removed some of those who were having the negative influence and replaced them with people who came alongside me and strengthened me in my walk with the Lord, while still encouraging me in the gifts God had given me.

Slowly I began to realize that I didn’t throw God away by pursuing my writing. He was just as much a part of my life as breathing and it didn’t matter if I was witnessing to someone or writing fantasy fiction, he’d be there. As it turned out, he was the one who’d gifted me with writing in the first place. I no longer felt ashamed of my writing. I no longer hid the fact that I’d been to see the latest Marvel movie or, gasp, read The Hunger Games. My writing picked up again and I realized that truths about the Lord were flowing out onto the page.

One of the biggest impacts on my teenage years was reading Tolkien and Lewis. Their books made me look at the world around me and sigh. Is this really it?
C.S. Lewis said: “If I find in myself something that nothing in this world can satisfy then it is probable that I was made for another world.”

Their books made me long for another world and ultimately made me long for Christ. That’s the sort of longing I want to inspire in my readers. That is why I write.

I may love the geeky stuff and believe me, I do, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sharing Christ through my life and on the page. I’m so grateful God allowed me to go through that rough patch. I grew closer to him through it and my love for writing was rekindled, plus some.

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong or like your calling was something to be ashamed of? Why not talk to God about it and ask him to reveal his truth to you?

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About Brittany Valentine

Saved by grace, sibling one of eight, part-timer by day, speculative fiction writer by night. Working on a series called The Chronicles of Aura.

15 comments on “A Calling

  1. How timely. I received another post about embracing our calling in my inbox right after yours. Thought I’ll share it here too http://redeeminggod.com/balanced-life-embrace-your-madness/#comment-240453

    Thanks for sharing your fear and guilt. I can totally relate and still find myself struggling to embrace it all.

  2. Definitely have been there. At one point in my life, I realized that nearly every waking thought was about the stories I was writing. While I worked at my job, I would translate office politics into the intrigue of my story world. When I was standing in line waiting for something, I was puzzling over the next plot twist. When I saw a movie or TV show that stirred my emotions, I analyzed it to see how they’d done it. In some ways, every moment I wasn’t writing, I was biding my time until I could be writing again.

    Somehow, despite the hold it had on my mind, God managed to show me that writing was an obsession: an idol. When my thoughts were so full of what I was writing, they had no room for the real relationships around me: family and friends, husband and co-workers. And particularly, I was neglecting my most important relationship of all: the one I had with my Creator Himself.

    When I realized this, I was horrified. Combined with the doubts that had always nagged at me and the voices of those who believed fiction was little more than lies people told each other to pass the time, this revelation made me drop writing fiction like it was a venomous snake.

    I took down my story websites, I threw out 95% of my fiction book and movie collection, and went on a sort of sabbatical from all those things. (A bit dramatic, but I’m a dramatic person at heart — I wanted to be sure that I was going far enough away from the addiction to get free of it.)

    I told God that nothing was more important than He was, and I would not do anything that was dishonoring Him. No matter how badly I wanted to write, if it wasn’t His idea then I wasn’t having any part of it. It felt like I was cutting off a limb.

    There was a grieving process (ugly, painful, numbing), and then a healing process (slow, progressive, calming). And when I felt I’d gained some perspective, I started looking at the question again: What did God want me to do? How did He feel about fiction writing? Could it be used for His glory?

    It took a couple of years, but I was in no hurry. I wanted to be absolutely certain this time. And after much study, prayer and introspection I came out the other side with a rock solid conviction about who I was and what I was to be doing. And writing stories is a big part of that.

    Like you, I’m thankful for the time of wrestling with those questions because it established a solid foundation, a firm place to stand against those voices of doubt and condemnation. I don’t answer to them. I answer to Him.

    • Wow, Teddi, that is an awesome testimony! You are right, we answer to Him. There have been so many things in my life that God has asked me to hold with an open hand. I can clench my fists so tightly, afraid that He will take something that I truly desire but He is the one who gives the best. C.S. Lewis told a story of two boys refusing to leave the mud puddle they are playing in when the ocean is just ahead of them. In my head I know I can trust my loving Father but it has been a process of learning that in my heart. I want to trust Him more with the things that are most dear to me. Thanks again for sharing. I’m so glad I got the chance to meet you!

  3. Thanks, Brittany, for sharing your journey. I, too, have had doubts and misgivings, amplified by others’ criticisms or projections. And, like Teddi, have had to reassess my own writing idolization. I now pray for the LORD’s peace, perseverance and a good laugh daily. My talents are not to be squandered; only He knows what the writing will accomplish. Love God and show up to write: my new motto. 🙂

  4. THING ONE: “Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong or like your calling was something to be ashamed of?” BRAVO! I can answer a resounding YES to that first part, since I write what I affectionately call …THAT… [horror from a biblical worldview], and as to the second part, I can vouch that many in the church lend a hand to making me want to feel that way. But journeys like yours encourage me, and what courage you’ve shown to be so transparent!

    THING TWO: “But can’t you see that it’s not important? Can’t you see that I can’t be godly and write fiction? These weren’t my exact words but it’s definitely where my thinking was headed at the time. I was at war with myself and I was miserable.” This is temperament and personality talking, not the Spirit of God. There is a very — very — strong tendency in the contemporary church to thunder the attitude WELL IF IT DOESNT APPEAL TO ME IT SHOULD APPEAL TO NO ONE (caps for emphasis, maybe a bit of yelling :)) This runs all the way from the Amish farms to speculative Christians who love fantasy but don’t care for …THAT… — or the Amish farms either! You have really slammed it on the head. No one, absolutely no one, has /had the right to say to you the things that were said. That wasn’t the Lord talking, and you know that now. Some people just don’t like fiction, Amish farms, other planets, other worlds, or monsters. Since I don’t like it, neither should you — and pssst, God really doesn’t like it either! This driving force needs to be put to death, for the pain and spiritual havoc it wreaks and reeks. Yes, Brittany, you CAN be godly and write fiction! You CAN serve the Master Storyteller as a subcreator, the way Tolkien instructs us. Of course you were miserable! You were putting out the Spirit’s fire because others did not share your vision and you wanted to belong. But better to be “outside the camp” and still following God, for God is the one who gave you the vision in the first place. Keep speaking up and out. Call it where you see it, where He says it is. I’ve been going through a lot lately, and you’ve reminded me of some things I need to remember. God bless you richly for sharing with us today!

    • “Serving the Master Storyteller as a subcreator, the way Tolkien instructs us” what a great way to put it! Thank you so much for commenting. It was encouraging to me. 🙂

  5. I know how you feel, folks. I was once told that writing fiction, even Christian fiction, was still telling lies, and I should focus on REAL writing. By a person who quoted movie lines every day. So what is a movie except a book on a screen? A fiction book. A lie? No, our fiction needs to be the truth of how things could have been, or could be, or should have been, or should be, or would have been, or would be. As Christians, our stories need to tell the same kinds of truths that Jesus told. Do we think His parables were all true accounts? No. And yet we glean truth from them. So brothers and sisters, keep writing. Ask the Lord to dictate the stories, and commit to typing exactly what He says. Then watch Him bless the stories. I have committed to Him that if the stories I write change only one person–and that one person should at least be me–then I will have done a good thing.

    • “I have committed to Him that if the stories I write change only one person–and that one person should at least be me–then I will have done a good thing.” Yes! That is so true.

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