This post is a part of a linkup with the Writers Unite group on Facebook. Search the Twitter hashtag #faithartlife to find other blogs that are participating in the linkup. You’re bound to find some great stuff.
I tend to compartmentalize things.
You wouldn’t be able to tell from looking around my house, since there’s pot holders in with the kitchen knives, potting soil next to the hats and scarves, and Lego guys next to the jewelry box. In the organizational sense, I wish I was better at compartmentalizing. My home could benefit from the “a place for everything, and everything in its place” mentality.
But when it comes to friends, children, work, church, and grocery shopping, I tend to forget these circles overlap. It’s a bit like running into an old high school friend in a different city; you don’t picture that person anywhere other than where you knew them.
Or it’s the same way children think their teachers never leave the school building and are mystified (and slightly alarmed) to run into a teacher at the library or a parade. Are the teachers allowed outside the confines of school? Yes, yes they are.
There are a couple things though, that I can’t contain even if I try, things that can’t be shoved into a box and put away neatly:
my faith in Jesus.
These two just spill out all over the place, willy-nilly.
They pervade my thoughts and attitudes, my observations, the way I listen, and my interactions with others. I can’t control it.
Here’s a practical example. My husband and I made a quick stop at a store last night and while he bought the few items we needed, I picked up coffee and waited for him at a table. Waddoya know, a man sat down at the table next to mine, clearly upset.
Two internal reactions:
1. Here’s a prime candidate for a slightly creepy, unpredictable character straight out of a Flannery O’Connor story. He had bandages on his fingertips, white socks with black orthopedic shoes, mumbled to himself and was sighing loudly and frequently. Another potential character was the employee, a Loud Talker who practically yelled at the poor guy when she asked him to wait while she got the incident report papers. This was great material.
2. Here’s a prime candidate for expressing care to someone who might need a little loving attention, an acknowledgment of his human-ness and inherent value as one of God’s creations. This guy was aching to talk to someone. I found out he fell and twisted his knee while checking out, and was worried that he might have busted stiches in his hand from his recent accident with a TABLE SAW when he almost lost three fingers.
You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Well, you can, but often the real stuff is just as compelling.
It was a brief encounter. I had to make a choice to engage that guy or keep my eyes on my coffee cup. That’s where art is not enough. Studying him to use in an upcoming suspense story is detaching myself from the situation and ignoring my role as an inhabitant of the world I observe.
My faith influences my writing and my writing gives me new insight into my faith. They flow back and forth into one another, leaking all over the place with no thought of compartments or boundaries…
…which is just the way I like it.