Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Focus on Joy by Angela Arndt

Carolina Jasmine Against a Stormy Sky
An uplifting Wednesday night Bible study collides with one brutal gunman consumed with hate. Nine lives lost. Countless forever changed. A world grieves.

I live in South Carolina, only two hours away from the Holy City  Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve passed that church so many times. I heard that pastor speak in our Senate last month. Tonight, network and cable news reveal every hateful detail of the villain’s murderous plot. Nine men and women who loved the Lord and died as martyrs.

Sometimes we have to look past the pain and grief to find our joy again. Look for that tiny bit of yellow against a vast expanse of gray. Romans 12:21 says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The good is there, we just have to change our focus.

Writers are sensitive souls. We grieve deeply when tragedy knocks, whether it is at our door or someone else's. Our souls connect with others across the country, across the world. How can we build fictional worlds when real ones have been forever destroyed? But John 1:5 reminds us, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

You may be facing writer's block today because of the Charleston tragedy, inhaling the information, taking it to heart. Pray for those afflicted by tragedy, but stop watching the news reports. Check out of social networks for a day or two if you need to.

Try pouring your grief into another kind of work. Steven Curtis Chapman was inspired to write Charleston, a beautiful song that reminds us: love overcomes evil with good.

Here's a few other ideas to help you focus on joy:
  • Allow God’s love to heal your heart. Wait until you hear your story again. 
  • Each one of the Charleston families refused to inherit the hate from that killer. Instead, they offered forgiveness to the man who killed their mother, father, sister or brother. That’s God’s power at work. If hate is filling your heart, pray that you’ll be able to forgive.
  • Focus on today, not tomorrow and what-ifs. Focus on the present, not the past or what-could-have-been.
  • Seek God’s joy with all your heart. You can find several good online devotions through YouVersion.com (where you can download a mobile app) or BibleGateway.com
  • If you can’t work through your grief, ask for help. Don’t stop until you find someone who will provide it. Don't let it fester within you.
  • Recognize you may need to spend some time alone. It’s hard to do if you have a family, I know. Go to your bedroom. Go to your bathroom! (I remember what it’s like to have a six-year-old following you around.) Ask a friend or a family member to watch your child(ren) for an hour or so. Breathe.
  • Take care of yourself. Remember that you’re more than a writer. Don't beat yourself up if you can't write, right now. Just do what you are able.
There comes a time, after the weeping, when we allow God’s power to heal our hearts. A time when we can focus on joy.
About the Author
Angela Arndt
Angela Arndt enjoys writing mysteries set in small Southern towns. Coincidentally, she, her husband, and their three very large dogs (a lab mix, Staffordshire terrier, and a 12 pound poodle) live in the middle of a big wood outside a small Southern town. She would love for you to visit her website, http://www.angelaarndt.com, or her team blog, http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.com.