Creative Writing and Self-Awareness

The other day, I was feeling strange. I’m still grieving the loss of a family member, but am also excitable and energized by the recent events across the world (so, essentially, heading for adrenal fatigue). In the midst of all of this, I feel like my connection with God has taken a hit. Not my faith, per se, but that closeness and intimate relationship with Him that is cultivated and sustained only in the quiet place – the “inner room” of the heart.

So, feeling somewhat spiritually fatigued, rather than turning to my usual methods of prayer and connection with God, I found myself writing out a fictional scene, as though writing a novel.

Over the next two days, as I continued to write out little bits of this scene, I found that I was actually encapsulating what was going on in my heart. As I wrote, my deep feelings, fears, and desires seemed to pour out of me and into every spoken word, every action, and every symbol in the scene. My mind, being too busy with all the events of the past few weeks, was ignoring my innermost feelings and spiritual goings-on. So instead they found a release, a way to be brought to my attention, through the art of creative writing.

To demonstrate more fully, I’ve included a snippet:

The temperature was below freezing in the valley that night, but while the woman wasn’t one to enjoy the feeling of being cold, she did enjoy the fresh feeling of the icy air on her cheeks, and seeing her breath form those swirling clouds in front of her face. The mountains rose not too far behind her home, towering above the trees that filled the land between. All was quiet and still except for the sound of the breeze rustling those trees, and the occasional hooting of an owl or scurrying of the night animals. She could smell the smoke drifting out of her chimney, enticing her to come back inside to the warmth. Yet she deliberately slowed her pace, wanting to appreciate this quiet night.

With arms full of firewood, she stepped onto the porch and prepared to awkwardly elbow the handle only to find that the door it belonged to was left ajar. Nudging it open with her foot, she supposed that she simply mustn’t have closed it properly on her way out. That is, until she looked up to find a man settled comfortably into an armchair before the fire, reading an old book that had previously been laying on her table. She stopped only for a moment before the shock wore away and an odd wrestling of comfort and apprehension took place in her heart.

‘When was the last time you read this?’ The man asked without looking up from the book.
‘I’m sure you know.’ She answered, making her way over to the firewood bin as he smiled at her words. ‘You might also know,’ she said with her back to the man, dropping the heavy logs, ‘that most people wait at the door until they’re invited in.’
‘Would you have let me in?’ He asked. She turned to look at him, but quickly looked away again with a sigh. ‘Besides,’ he continued, ‘you’ve invited me in before so, technically, I needn’t ask again.’
‘That’s not really how our society works.’
‘Your society isn’t really how I work, either.’
She finally looked at him in defeat and he smiled warmly up at her. ‘Would you care for a glass of wine, then?’
‘You know I would.’
‘I don’t know, though. And I’m afraid you might even be gone before I’m finished pouring you a glass.’
At that, he stood and quietly walked over to her. She passed him a glass of the deep red drink and he looked intently into her eyes. ‘You know, my dear, that I will stay for as long as you will have me.’

They stood like that for a moment, looking deep into one another. Love spilled forth from his eyes as tears filled her own. He picked up the second glass she had poured and handed it to her before leading the way back to the chairs in front of the fireplace, where a new log was now burning.

As it goes on the scene delves deeper into the areas of my heart where none but God and myself are yet privy to. Full disclosure, though I’m sure they’re already quite thinly veiled, the man represents Christ, or the Holy Spirit, and the woman represents myself. Their conversation becomes more intimate and revealing of the reasons behind the apprehension that the woman feels upon first seeing the man settling into her home (symbolic, of course, of my heart).

When the two characters had, in their conversation, come to the crux of the woman’s apprehension toward seeing the man, I understood the crux of the issue in my spiritual unease. I stopped writing and read the entire scene to myself, and upon reading the last sentence, ninety minutes of tearful, heart-wrenching, (snotty, let’s be real), grieving ensued.

Had these issues not been brought to my attention, and had I not been forced to confront them and grieve them properly, they would only have served to hinder and hurt me more and more as I left them unattended (not to mentioned, they may have hurt others). My spirit would still be apprehensive toward meeting with God in that quiet place, while suffering without the comfort of His intimate embrace.

While we remain in this time of uncertainty and social lock-down, many of us may be struggling with similar (and yet very distinct) spiritual unease and upheaval. We have much to grieve, even in knowing that what is lost will eventually return. Luckily, many of us now have more time on our hands – so I encourage you to try your hand at creative writing. Write whatever comes to mind, whether you are writing yourself into a scene like I did or writing about something completely outside of yourself. Then when you feel you’ve come to some sort of conclusion (it doesn’t have to be a resolution), stop and read what you’ve created. Sometimes the meaning of the places, people, and things we’ve written about will be immediately obvious to us. Sometimes they require us to analyse and reflect deeply on the feelings and thoughts behind the images created through our words.

Some may not find any usefulness in the practise of creative writing, but I believe many of us would be surprised at what our hearts would be willing to bring to our attention. My mind, so busy dealing with external events, was refusing to heed any messages that my inner being was needing to resolve. So, in a sense, I had to process it outwardly in order to process it inwardly. Instead of heart to brain, the message had to move from heart, to page, to brain, to spirit. Finally, having been thus processed and understood more fully, it was able to be brought more fully before God.

Creative writing, like many gifts which God gives, can be a form of prophecy. It can give insight into ourselves, the world around us, and God’s character and love. However, like other forms of prophecy, it must be checked to align with what Scripture reveals about these things, and it requires wisdom to handle well. All things, in the end, should be brought in prayer before the Creator of all things, so that we may know Him more.

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