Aspects of war and peace by Joy Lenton

Would you believe I haven't read a novel in months?

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 and as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. 

You can connect with her on Twitter, or on Facebook.  


  1. Great post Joy. I've just finished reading The Papa Prayer by Larry Crabb. It is all about how we can approach God in honesty and truth of who we really are inside and build on and deepen our relationship with Him. I found it helpful to encourage me to keep seeking God in honesty.

    1. Thanks, Lynda. I like the sound of the book you've just read. It's always helpful to be encouraged to build on and deepen our relationship with God. This may be one I need to add to my ever growing 'Wish List'! :) x

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  3. A very insightful post. We are all so many different people, struggling to integrate as one person. I've just finished Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread which is a wonderful read all about the mysteries and secrets in families. Also about growing older which is something I've been thinking a lot about recently (sigh!) Of course, as you say, we need all these seasons of life and bring them to our writing. Great post Joy! Thank you x

    1. It's some years since I've read any Anne Tyler books. This one sounds interesting. And I can relate to the theme of growing older as being terribly compelling once one reaches "mature" years. Maybe having our children leave home and marry brings us up short with our own mortality? Each season of life will involve some unwanted challenges as well as opening up and embracing change. Reflecting on and responding to such things will affect the way we live and write. Thanks for sharing, Deborah! Xx

  4. I'm partway through Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen. Although I normally read very quickly, I'm finding I need to take this one much more slowly, as there's so much to mull over and savour.

    1. I've had 'Life of the Beloved' on my 'Wish List' for a while, Fiona. It's looking like I'll have to buy myself a copy soon, especially with 'love' being my focus word this year! Nouwen's work does require some slow savouring to get the most out of it. Enjoy! :) x

  5. Your words always speak to me. I feel we are kindred spirits in some ways and I love that connection. Thank you for the War and Peace analogy. We can be in a battle with ourselves one minute and the next at peace.

    I am currently reading Lisa Murray's new book "Peace for a Lifetime" and am finding her words to be just what I need right now. Thank you for your beautiful offering today.

  6. Mary, I too am grateful for the connection of being kindred spirits on the journey of life and faith. Your words always minister to me and I just had to go and check out the book you mentioned here. I'd love to read it too, if only I wasn't already inundated with reading material!
    Thank you so much for taking the trouble to follow me over here and leave a lovely comment. May you discover more peace and rest in God as you read and reflect. It sounds a perfect thing to do in these cold, dark days when huddling indoors with a book is especially inviting. Bless you, friend. :) x


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