Like many of you, this week I’m grieving the deaths of men, women, and children across our country to gun violence. Too many lives taken in the midst of activities each of us do on a regular basis–shopping, attending local festivals, spending an evening out with friends, going to the park. As the mother of two girls, I find myself trying to be a comforter and encourager while also dealing with my own fears and anxieties. As a writer, I find healing in reading, journaling, and dialoguing with God my way through grief.
I just finished Henri Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer. Written in the 1970’s his perspective of his generation was one that was lost. Nouwen’s description of that generation is hauntingly accurate of today’s.
He says “Many young people are convinced that there is something terribly wrong with the world in which they live and that cooperation with existing models of living would constitute betrayal of themselves. Everywhere we see restless and nervous people, unable to concentrate and often suffering from a growing sense of depression. They know that what is shouldn’t be the way it is, but they see no workable alternative. Thus they are saddled with frustration, which often expresses itself in undirected violence which destroys without clear purpose, or in suicidal withdrawal from the world, both which are signs more of protest than of the results of a new-found ideal.”
It shouldn’t be this way
I sat with Nouwen’s words before the Lord as I journaled. Their timelessness. Their eternal truth that goes back all the way to biblical times. This is nothing new, just another chance for humanity to both see their limitations and their need for God’s loving spirit to overcome evil and provide a better way. And in that I find comfort because in every generation there have been those who rise above the ugliness and create better paths and better ways. Truth bearers and ministers.
Nouwen offers solutions for those ministering to this lonely generation. Essentially it boils down to coming alongside our neighbor and finding our roots and hope together. Nouwen reminds Christians that Jesus was also lonely and surrounded by people desperate for connection and by Pharisees who believed they’d figured it all out. They believed if people just lived by the religious laws their problems would be solved. But they didn’t understand that they had to get their hands dirty, their hearts hurt, their minds challenged, and be God’s hands and feet actually loving those people they thought too sinful to even walk on the same side of the road with.
Ministering to the hopeless man
And that’s where God challenged me as a writer of Christian fiction. It’s His call for my characters to not be Pharisees who live the right life and look down and judge the world around them, but to be lonely, desperate people who see a world in desperate need of love and companionship, because they are in desperate need of love and kinship. That in their character arc, they must heal their own wounds in order to know how to heal the wounded around them. They must be both wounded ministers and healing ministers if they have the spirit of God so my readers can find hope.
Deep wounds, deeper lessons
This week we also lost a literary great, Toni Morrison. She was one of the first voices I read that took her characters’ painful wounds and used them to create stories of overcoming evil. Her stories gave voice to the lost and lonely by restoring meaning to the African-American experience in the United States. Her stories challenge and convict every person to acknowledge their own wounds and where they have caused wounds. She ministered a painfully true love through her words both written and spoken. And that is what we need in our modern literary times. Stories that heal. Stories that challenge us to rise above oppression, hate, bigotry, ignorance, and bind wounds and love even when it hurts. Stories that can change minds and hearts before they become disillusioned and embittered.
My challenge to you as readers and writers is to share those stories. SHARE the books that change you at your core. And then go LIVE your story. Be the friend, the neighbor, the relative that comes alongside others and shares your wounds so others know they aren’t alone. Build deep healing relationships and together go out and change the world with love.
Jessica White writes stories that shape the soul. She has two historical novels out in her Seasons of Healing series. Her first contemporary romance will be published March 2020 with Mantle Rock. You can learn more about her and her books at her website. Sign up for her quarterly newsletter to receive a free 30 day devotional and come along with her as she journeys with God on her Facebook page.