The River Series

Tell the Mess

I’m not sure if other writers feel this way, but sometimes I suddenly regret what I wrote. Like, all the sudden I feel bad for the entire book and subject matter I wrote. I feel like a scumball for writing about child abuse. I feel like a dirtbag for including a scene where someone gets drunk or high or solicits a prostitute. I feel like filth for writing about filthy things.
But then I remember that that’s not the end of the story. The ugly, sinful, vile, repulsive things that my characters do isn’t the end of the book- it’s only there to show how low they fall before God raises them back up.
And aren’t our lives the same way? When we focus on the terrible, distasteful, worthless things we’ve done, don’t we feel like trash? But God doesn’t leave us there. He jumps down into the pit and lifts us out of it. And how can we possibly tell how far He’s raised us up until we tell how low we’ve fallen?
Yes, there are awful things that happen to my characters and that my characters do in my books. But that’s not the end. God is so, so much greater. He’s stronger. He’s more powerful. He’s good. Really, really good. Complexly and creatively good. No matter what mess we’ve made, He can make good come out of it. And when we tell others about how God’s done that, we increase the harvest of goodness from our stories.
Don’t hide the mess. Don’t wallow in despair because of how horribly messy the mess is. Don’t live in defeat because the mess exists.
Tell the mess. Then tell what God has done with the mess, how He’s stepped in at precisely that moment when it looks impossible to redeem, and He’s turned everything around, and He’s made beauty from ashes, treasure from filth. Tell that because that’s a noble story worth telling.

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