Moments of Grace

Everything in life relates when you’re a writer. Every single incident, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may be at the time. Sometimes incidents combine and we just don’t notice them. We’re too busy with the mundane details in life. Sometimes we ignore them, because to notice them requires we step outside our comfort zones and actually do something we don’t want to do.

But then there are other times. Ones when we are graced (or body-slammed) with these magnificent insights.

At times those insights flow over us like heated silk and, like the butterfly, we emerge from them transformed. At other times, we rebuff the wisdom and then too often we’re later sorry for having done so.

But we shouldn’t be sorry, and I guess that’s the message in this–at least, for me. We get what we need when we get it and when we need it.

Sometimes we have to wait for events and insights to line up like the proverbial ducks, so that we have the foundation we need to be able to grasp and interpret accurately the insight and wisdom coming to us.

Perhaps, if we grasped the wisdom too soon, we would misinterpret it. Then, in following and giving that wisdom, as we inaccurately perceived it, its proper place in our lives, we would do more harm than good.

These are the meanderings in my mind on why things happen as they do. I worried about these types of things early-on. When you have a brother who’s left a vegetable at five months old and he lives for eighteen years, you think about these kinds of things a great deal.

As I type this, I remember once asking a pastor about hell. I couldn’t understand why, if God loves us as much as they say and He is perfect, then why would He condemn us, his beloved children, to hell forever. My parents were not perfect, but I knew that they would never do that to me. So did that mean my parents loved their children more than God loved His? The pastor was furious, and kicked me out of church. I was six years old.

How would I ever tell my parents I’d been kicked out of church? They’d be so angry with me. But you know, I was angry, too. Until that time, I thought that pastor spoke for God. Kind of translated so the rest of us could understand what God wanted and what He had to say.

I realized that morning that this particular pastor did not, because even my little six-year-old mind knew God wouldn’t throw out or throw away one of His kids.

I went home, terrified I’d be busted until I died of old age. I, of course, went to Mom, because she was the soft touch. Dad was heavy-duty. Much to my surprise, my mom thought it had been a reasonable question. And she explained that God doesn’t condemn His children. He kind of puts them on restriction so they learn not to hurt themselves that same way again.

Her response made sense then, and makes sense now. That was a moment of grace for me, and a moment when I believe God spoke through my mother to my child’s heart.

Characters emulate real people. And real people have all kinds of experiences that help shape them into the individuals that they become. It isn’t one incident that makes a person. It shouldn’t be one incident that destroys them. The best characters are more complex. More real. They’ve known sadness and joy, they’ve feasted and hungered, they’ve lived. They’ve been kicked out for crossing proverbial lines. And they’ve been blessed with unexpected moments of grace.

I’m still working through these things with Maggie Holt, the heroine in DOUBLE DARE. She’s so smart in so many ways. In some, she’s amazing. But in last night’s writing, Maggie had a wonderful opportunity to embrace a moment of grace. Yet she didn’t. She wanted to, she was inspired to, she actually yearned to embrace that moment and claim it as her own. But fear battled her for that moment, and she chose to let it win.

I was sorely disappointed. So I kept writing, hoping she’d not blown it for good. Because it’s true, you know. Some opportunities only come once.

I’m reminded of a woman who in her old age was asked why she never married. She responded that because the last time she’d been asked, she hadn’t known it was going to be the last time she was asked. I thought of that, and I hoped this wasn’t Maggie’s last shot. That there would be one more so that she could be content with her life.

I was nearly at the end of the book. Almost there, just pages away. And I had absolute knots in my stomach because there was no sign of that second chance. I prayed, pleaded, begged, but it just wasn’t happening. And honestly, the writer in me had no idea what to do. The woman in the writer was in a full-out rebellion, and mutiny was a pencil point away. I can’t condemn her to less than she could have. I can’t.

I felt a lot like an imperfect parent, wanting the best for her child. I felt a little of how God must feel, wanting the best for His children. And right then, I experienced the answer through emotions connected to the question I asked at six. And I knew God never gives up. Never. And I might be hanging onto hope by a thin thread, but I couldn’t give up on Maggie, either.

And then, scant pages later, there it was. That moment of grace.

And she took it.

Vicki Hinze http://www.vickihinze.com

Note: I edit books and professional correspondence. But I do NOT edit email or this blog. This is chat time for me, so if the grammar is goofed or a word’s spelled wrong, please just breeze on past it. I’d appreciate it–and salute you with my coffee cup. 🙂

“Trust is earned, one book at a time.”
–Vicki Hinze http://vickihinze.com

You are permitted to use the blog post above in its entirety, free of charge, provided you include the following text:
—————————————————————————–
Copyright 2005. VickiHinze
(http://www.vickihinze.com), is a multi-published author, who has a free library of her articles on writing–the craft, business and life.

The Challenge of Blogs

Blogging is an interesting concept, isn’t it?

It’s very interesting to read the inner-workings of a person’s mind, to see what they think and how they think it. In a way, it’s a lot like developing characters. There are layers to people, their personalities, hopes, fears and dreams. And their experiences can be intriguing, interesting, fascinating. It’s amazing to me how we read blogs and we see bits and pieces of ourselves in them.

I read them and seem to automatically home in on those bits and pieces–and others I’ve talked to about it, do the same thing. I think the parts I enjoy most are the intimacy of someone talking so frankly about the hard stuff we all hate to talk about, and those little moments of grace that seem to find their way into the message on the page.

You know the moments I mean. The ones where someone would have been totally justified in shutting down, telling someone off, being a bona fide bitch, but instead shows compassion, understanding, empathy and respect. For the other person, but also for the endurance involved in the situation.

That’s of particular interest to me now. Partly because I’m writing DOUBLE DARE and the heroine in it doesn’t trust men. A cheating husband can do that to a person. But so can other people in relationships. Those you love most can betray your trust. So can your extended family members, like those married to your children, or related to your spouse, or dear friends. We all understand betrayal. We all understand the sense of astonishment, and then the frustration and the pain that inevitably sets in.

What we don’t all understand is how to deal with it constructively. To accept that sometimes we can’t do a damn thing about it without alienating others we love. We can’t change the unchangeable. For those of us who are “if it’s broken fix it” people, that helplessness to do something can be very hard to stomach.

That leaves us with two options: to endure, to sacrifice. Neither one sounds appealing, does it? Doesn’t to me, either. Oh, forgiveness can be factored in of course. But what if it isn’t asked for? What then? And what do you do with all the emotion of choosing to forgive someone who continues to hurt you? We were all warned from the cradle not to tolerate that for good reason.

Perhaps forgiveness is the right thing to do–asked for or not. But truthfully, does it take away the feelings that invade your heart and occupy your mind? Does it ease the hurt?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot while writing this book. The heroine, Maggie Holt, finds her way through betrayal by coming to redefine her philosophy about spouses being unfaithful. Her attitude that there is no reason for a man to cheat on his spouse changes. She still feels cheating is wrong, but accepts that sometimes there are human reasons it happens.

Maybe there are human reasons for betrayal in general, too. Maybe a person is one who is so busy looking to their wants and needs, they don’t even think about the impact of their actions on others. Maybe they’re one of those kind of people that just bulldozes through life unconscious. You know the type person I mean. Maybe a person is feeling threatened, or as if their place in a loved one’s life is insecure, or perhaps unsecured. Not all people are altruistic, some are just down-damn right manipulative. Maybe there are times when what’s been done is not right, but just maybe it too is human.

Doesn’t make betrayal easier to stomach, and that’s a fact. But knowing it can be a human flaw and not a manipulative attempt to destroy something decent and good, can be a source of solace and peace–if one chooses to let it.

The challenge of blogs is revealing too much. How much is enough? Where’s the line? I can’t say. I just don’t know.

What I do know is that reading blogs, feeling that intimate connection with the author, with that kindred spirit on challenges isn’t always comfortable or easy. Sometimes, to be totally honest, it sucks. But that’s because it makes one think. It makes you pull those emotions out of the closet and look at them in the bald light of day when you’re not at all sure you wouldn’t rather keep them in the dark and forget they’re there.

The thing is, the puppies always sneak out on their own anyway. And often it’s at the worst possible time–and not when you’re reading along with someone who’s been there and done that. And not when you’re writing a story about a character who makes peace with the challenge.

The challenge with blogs is also the blessing of them. Facing the darkest parts of ourselves is always easier when someone else with firsthand experience is along to say ouch with gusto and genuine empathy when we stub our toes. And we find hope that we’ll drag ourselves out of the darkness and into the light because, from their experience, we know there IS light.

Vicki Hinze http://www.vickihinze.com

Note: I edit books and professional correspondence. But I do NOT edit email or this blog. This is chat time for me, so if the grammar is goofed or a word’s spelled wrong, please just breeze on past it. I’d appreciate it–and salute you with my coffee cup. 🙂

“Trust is earned, one book at a time.”
–Vicki Hinze http://vickihinze.com

You are permitted to use the blog post above in its entirety, free of charge, provided you include the following text:
—————————————————————————–
Copyright 2005. VickiHinze
(http://www.vickihinze.com), is a multi-published author, who has a free library of her articles on writing–the craft, business and life.