Monday, May 28, 2012

Welcome Wounds: Could Imperfections be Desirable? (Part One)

"In a perfect world..." It's such a common saying, one that most people never give any serious thought, a vehicle to express desires, hopes, wishes for humanity, dreams that will never come to pass. The harsh reality is that our world is not perfect, never has been (expect briefly), never will be. In fact, we are so used to an imperfect world that it is hard to imagine one without sickness, death, and sin. Those trials permeate our lives and even help to shape who we are. This is especially true in the life of a writer, and I think James Baldwin captures the idea perfectly (or imperfectly, as the case may be).
" is only because the world looks on his talent with such a frightening indifference that the artist is compelled to make his talent important. So that any writer, looking back over even so short a span of time as I am here forced to assess, finds that the things which hurt him and the things which helped him cannot be divorced from each other; he could be helped in a certain way only because he was hurt in a certain way..."
We are who we are because of what we've been through. No soldier who comes back from war is the same person as when he left. Qualities such as perseverance, courage and integrity are praised all over the world, but what is perseverance without opposition, what is courage without fear, what is integrity without sin? The good in our lives is highlighted, made more apparent by the bad. Likewise the goodness and grace of God could not be so clearly shown if there were no sinners to save.
There is also the issue of becoming better able to write or better able to capture the world in a story after having been through personal distress. It is a hard issue to address, because no one wants to lose a family member, live through a war, or fall into alcoholism. Yet, there is the idea (whether real or embellished) that most successful writers were tortured souls or had some sort of handicap. John Milton was blind, Dickens had a troubled childhood, Hemmingway ended his own life, to name a few. And, their works have stood the test of the ages. People will never forget their names and remember them for their genius, not for their troubles. Then, the question remains: is it worth it? Is it worth it to suffer voluntarily or involuntarily to produce something great. Or, is the whole thing a myth in the first place? Does it take pain to produce greatness? I don't know. I haven't lived long enough to tell. What I do know is that we have a responsibility to obey God. If we make an impact for His name, it doesn't matter that we are not known by others. I can't believe it is right to intentionally endure suffering in the hopes of becoming a better artist, but trials will come. Sin is unavoidable, death and sickness common conditions. If God can bring anything good or worthy out of baseness, then all the praise goes to Him. If He can make us more aware of His grace and better able to serve Him, then we only have to marvel at a God who uses even that which opposes Him for His glory. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Romans 11:33) 

Join me again in the next few days for Part 2, to read more about our sin and God's grace.

(Credit goes to Jesse Negron and his Screenwriting II class at The Master's College for covering this topic in such depth.)

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