I love storms.
Heavenly percussion rumbles your insides. Jagged flashes open your view from the heavens to the horizon. Watered earth becomes a presence in your nostrils. Rain on your face is light kisses or a soul-cleansing downpour. Even the most violent storms still produce beauty. The earth is washed and watered and dead things are removed to make room for new life.
My siblings have the same delight in storms. They’re better than a movie. We love the memory of sitting cross-legged on the braided living room rug, the fibers scratching through our light summer jammies, cramming handfuls of popcorn into our mouths. We oohed and aahed the way people do over fireworks as we watched trees sway and fall through the large front window of our two story older home in Helena. The rain swooshed down the hill in gutter rivers that made you thankful you listened to your mom and put your toys away.
A few years ago I asked, “Mom, did you know you passed your love of storms onto all of us?”
She whipped around from the kitchen sink and stared like I was a stranger. “I don’t love storms.”
It was my turn to be stunned. “WHAT? But, you would wake us all up and turn every storm into a party.”
“I did that because I was afraid. When your dad was gone I didn’t want to be alone during the storm.”
I still can’t get over the wonder of my mom’s admission and the power of her actions. She dealt with her fear in such a way that none of her kids are afraid of storms. We embrace them, almost foolishly without fear.
As a Christian I try to have this same attitude about the storms in my life. I know there is a silver lining. I know the Lord is near. I know He causes and allows all things. I know. I know. I know.
Sometimes I weary of the storms.
I know the Lord uses all things and Ive blogged through many of my trials, like cancer, but there are some things that I can’t begin to touch. The pain is too deep, the situation is unresolved, or it isn’t my story to tell.
A few weeks ago, I directed a weekend writing conference for Northwest Christian Writers Association and we brought in Mick Silva to teach. I was ready to learn all the tricks about plotting and characterization that were missing from my boring manuscript. I thought it would be an intense weekend dealing with only craft.
I didn’t get what I expected.
I got what I needed.
I want to put the past ten years aside and just be a writer. I wanted to forget about cancer, the Innocent Man in jail, the heartaches of parenting, spiritual abuse, and my miscarriage. That was then, this is now. I served the Lord through all that and I’m ready for a new chapter.
At the same time, I know my writing would have no passion or credibility without those life experiences. I also know the best encouragement comes from someone who has suffered the same trial.
One of the themes for the weekend was “Turn your STORM into your STORY.” Embrace those things that have been your deepest hours of suffering and pain and make them a part of your story.
I couldn’t figure out how to translate my 20th century issues into the life of a 20 year old woman in first century Rome.
One morning over coffee Mick and I visited about today’s church. What help can fiction writers offer to the hurting church? Even more so, how can we overcome the hurts from the church to write in a way that helps?
I related a few instances of deep hurt from Church Ladies that have taken me over 10 years to identify and heal. I asked, “How do I turn that into first century Rome? I don’t get it!”
“Mindy, take those feeling and put your character in them. Where would she be criticized by women of Rome? Put her there and write from your heart.”
I put my character in a Roman bath where the women gather each morning. Whispers. Sneers. Gossip. Watched. Scorned. Mocked.
We watched this video during our Sunday morning time of worship as we passed around a box of tissue.
Fiction writers aren’t the only ones that need to turn their STORM into their STORY. This is a call for all Christians. The trials the Lord brings you to, are the ones He wants you to help others through.
Hunker down in your STORM. Surround yourself with people that love you and feed your soul. When it’s over, appreciate the freshness of a washed life. Then be ready for opportunity. You will have a STORY to tell.