As a professed bookworm, I've been sticking to my preferred genre for a while - namely non fiction - mostly memoir, devotional reflections and poetry.
My soul is craving some escapism, so I've chosen to lose myself in Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'. For. The. First. Time... gulp!
Crazy, or what? Although I have enjoyed reading Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky in the past.
I began 'War and Peace' after the TV series had commenced. My reading speed is slow because I'm more used to the dip, sip, savour or pause, ponder, pray way of digesting books rather than feasting on fiction.
Life often feels like war and peace combined as flesh and spirit are in combat with one another.
Books I read invariably reveal some commonality with my own life, enlarge understanding and inform my writing.
Here, universal themes of love, hate, faith, conflict, power, politics, war and peace are already evident, as is seeing how my mind is also peopled with various 'characters'.
Because you don't have to be a fiction writer to have varying voices vying for attention within.
For example, some days..
- The poet in me pleads for prominence
- The shy child abuse survivor seeks to be seen
- The chronically sick person wants her weak voice to be heard
- The closed captive seeks to escape her carapace
- The open, encouraging me endeavours to encourage and support
- The mature (wise?) woman desires to share insights
- The contemplative has a thoughtful offering to bring
These 'people' are all aspects of my character and life experience. Maybe you can see something of yourself here too?
We have to find a way to live in harmony and balance with our disparate selves.
They're composite parts of a complex whole.
It takes wisdom and discernment to know which aspects to allow prominence to, what to keep hidden or share.
As writers, we are advised to speak in our own authentic 'voice', and that's what I try to do.
Guided by Holy Spirit, I aim to speak from the heart, to bless and encourage others on their faith journey.
We all bring our unique personal history and experience to bear on what we share as writers. It's what adds richness to our reflections.
Ultimately, we're not at war with ourselves or others but with spiritual forces of darkness.
So how do we avoid inner conflict (war) and maintain peace?
Here's what I find helpful:
- Realise - we will always be in a spiritual battle here
- Ready - ourselves by staying armed and dangerous (Ephesians 6:10-18)
- Remember - Christ has already won the victory, we're just standing ground
- Rejoice - in His equipping and peace being present to us for all circumstances
- Realign - our hearts and minds by daily surrender to God and His word
- Rest - in who we are on the way to all we're becoming by His grace
As we accept we are intrinsically flesh and spirit, ask Holy Spirit to guide us, listen for His voice, remain obedient to what He reveals for us to do, daily surrender our thoughts, words and work into God's hands and maintain an eternal perspective, we will live with less conflict and remain authentic in our calling.
What are you currently reading? How is it informing your thinking?
Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer and poet.
She enjoys encouraging others at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal.