Tension is needed in the creative process. A place needs to be described but too much description and it can turn a reader off. A protagonist needs to have a well rounded character so it can be imagined as 3D, like you and me. Even the “goodest” character needs a wee bit of negativity to harmonise, giving a discordant note to elevate the rest of the harmony and balance.
Characters, in the main (i.e. unless in a samuel beckett book), need to do things, make decisions, move forward, not stay in stasis.
Yesterday I used stasis to describe a time of stagnation, it was misunderstood because generally we like stasis. Our bodies love stasis, it means there is no disease, nothing to worry about, all is equilibrium. As human beings we like stasis because it means we have reached a plateau: a bland lawn of nothingness – but we like it – because there is no bogey man under the bed and no excitement that might cause stress.
A character cannot strive for stasis, because that’s boring. No reader will want to read it, no one will aspire to be that character. As Christians we cannot aim for stasis, we cannot stay stagnant, no matter how much we want to stay in the calm we have to be bold and go where no one has gone before.
Tension therefore is needed in life. Nothing shows this to us more than a butterfly. In order to transform into the beautiful creature, first it spends time crawling in the earth eating profusely until it has a time of rest, cocooned. Like a chick getting out of an eggshell so a butterfly must struggle to get out of the cocoon. Without the struggle it will die. Without Jesus’ struggle we would die.
If we stay in our comfort zone, keeping harmony with all around us, we are not doing what we are called to do. We should be struggling, grapling with ourselves and the world outside and we should be embracing the path chosen for us.
So let’s do some imagining:
Person A, contentedly married to equally Christian man, with lovely Christian children. All their friends are Christian. Night after night she has a dream that sees her and her family in a hut in China, they look real poor and seem to be doing some kind of mission work. She looks at the cosy life she has and decides not to share what she dreams with anyone, not her husband, not her pastor, not her family. She rationalises her decision saying it was only a dream, it was not like God was talking to her.
Person B: contentedly married to equally Christian man, with lovely Christian children. All their friends are Christian. Night after night she has a dream that sees her and her family in a hut in China, they look real poor and seem to be doing some kind of mission work. She prays about it, shares it with her husband, they pray together, they go to their pastor and talk with him, they pray together. A year later the family set off on an adventure to glorify God and spread the good news.
Person C: Last year discovered church, accepted Christ into their lives, and at every opportunity talks to their friends and family about the gospel, about the changes in their life and loves to have conversations with anyone about the Lord.
And then there’s me, digging my heels in, trying to stay in stasis, being prodded and poked out of it, fighting, arguing, apologising, messing up. Living in tension.
The current tension I have is:
a) I was told find something of service that you love and do it
b) I was told give up something you love
The current tension I have is:
whatever has already been done is just the tip of the iceberg for the plan, how I would love to align God’s plan to mine but I know the right thing to do is align me to God’s plan.
Time to pray.