I just finished writing a Psychology exam on which I was asked how I would approach the relationship between being a psychologist and being a Christian. I also just finished participating in a Twitter chat about how the real world meets the writing world. Since this topic of relationship came up twice in the span of a couple hours, I thought it fitting to examine it in the much smaller scale of my own personal relationship to writing, the real world, and my faith as a Christian.
I am a firm believer that my faith is the most important and central feature of my life, and it should permeate into everything I do—including writing. Because of that I used to believe that I could only write strictly Christian fiction. I have since discovered that being a Christian writer doesn’t mean that for me. I am called to write about the things that I find highly interesting (pirates, dragons, magic, and criminals to name a few) through the filter of a faith-based world view. Whether or not I like it, my real life, my faith, and my writing are intricately mixed.
I can’t separate my writing from my faith and I can’t separate my life from my faith. All three of these things are not kept neat and tidy in their own little compartments. They ebb and flow through me mixing and meeting in all kinds of wonderful ways. My real life is a faith life, not just once a week at church or when something bad happens, but everyday, every hour, and every moment of my real life is founded on faith—it has to be. God has given me a gift through my love of stories and storytelling. Without my faith, the gift of writing becomes selfish and loses all meaning. My faith, life, and writing are inseparably linked.
If my life through faith and writing can not be separated, then I want to do everything I can to integrate them as smoothly and effectively as possible. Faith becomes the foundation of my writing. My stories, I hope and pray, portray what that foundation means to me. The integration happens when I actively and passively filter my stories and writing through my Christian worldview keeping in mind the most amazing characteristics of my faith through the sacrifice, redemption, and grace found in Jesus Christ. Passively the integration happens because of the nature of a worldview which unconsciously shapes and influences how I see the world.
The important themes of the Christian faith, like love, sacrifice, grace, and hope become staples in my stories often without me realizing until after I go back to edit because I unconsciously and consciously view the world through these themes. Because I am made in the image of God who is creator of all, I strive also to be a creator and bring glory to Him through my stories. Not only is my faith applied through my made up stories, but all the inspiration I take from my real life is also automatically examined through this lens.
I don’t want to separate who I am into three categories–life, faith, and writing. A separation like that limits how I interpret the world depending on which hat I decide to wear. Do I see this situation as a Christian, as a human, or as a writer? I would rather compound these three hats (and other hats too) into one. I actively put faith as the most important aspect of my life and allow it to influence each and every thing I do.
Integrating these central aspects of my life allows me to create a more complex, nuanced, and frankly, realistic life for my characters and my stories both when I’m writing and when I’m not.
Do you integrate multiple aspects of your life? Why or why not?