Friday, August 7, 2020

Don’t Be Job’s Friends by Melinda V. Inman

The Writer Life Meme

Don’t Be Job’s Friends 

Though most of us have gone through hard times, we’ve probably never before suffered such an intense period of refining. The lessons we’re learning, shared with our readers while the hardships are still in progress, have provided countless opportunities to engender renewed confidence in Christ.

At the turn of this century, our family went through challenging times. We were hit hard by numerous difficulties, coupled with six relocations. One of these landed us across the street from Columbine High School five days before the massacre.

The isolation we felt as we moved multiple times, coupled with losing all of our supportive relationships repeatedly, left us feeling traumatized like Job, with no one in our corner but God. At one point, I felt betrayed by even Him. These events birthed my autoimmune diseases.

Eventually, these experiences birthed copious writing. The Lord had provided a wealth of experiential knowledge that I had never wanted, and yet, these hardships provided commonality with so many others. From the knowledge of what it is to truly suffer, what it means to lack social support during suffering, and what is necessary to even begin to recover, I discovered that the Savior had equipped me to write with the strength gained through tribulation.

And yet, as we’ve gone through these past five months, for the first time in my life a novel isn’t cooking in my brain. Writing fiction is exhilarating, but my mind now daily digests our current devastating life events, and I am silent. I’ve got nothing.

I cannot write characters who experience the setbacks that make a good story, because we have enough trauma of our own right now. I simply cannot subject myself to the traumatizing effect of my fictional characters’ difficulties on top of our own.

Additionally, because I can’t yet perceive the interpretation of our current circumstances within the larger narrative of our family life, I’m in mourning. I’m not grounded solidly enough in these current realities to pen fiction. Who are we now? Who would these fictional people be?

You may be experiencing this, or the opposite. You may have fresh stories springing forth, now that you’ve experienced this devastating, though rich, companionship with loneliness, hardship, sickness, and perhaps death, which God in His goodness has allowed for our welfare.

In this time of pandemic and social upheaval, what work is the Savior doing in you? How is it impacting your writing? We will each have an entirely unique takeaway.

As we’ve endured this time of struggle, my family has simultaneously experienced some of the most horrific tragedies we’ve ever lived through, making our past trials small by comparison.

And yet, those troubles from our past were definitely not small, since they consisted of the Columbine massacre, a life flight, an assault, major surgeries, debridement, economic losses, and kids tangling with moving automobiles, for starters.

We’ve suffered much, and yet every trial in the past five months, though more wrenchingly difficult, has seemed more bearable than those earlier decades, because the entire world is experiencing hardship simultaneously.

We’re all on the same page. We’re all struggling. We’re all suffering in some way. No one needs to explain themselves. We can console one another right where we are, rather than being the lone suffering family with everyone else looking at us like Job’s so-called friends.


And so, dear writers, what can we learn?

We can determine never to be Job’s friends, miserable comforters all, but rather to sit with the mourners in solidarity and silence from here on out, remembering the lessons of our shared hardships.

We can aspire never to write like Job’s friends would have penned, condemnatory and smug, but instead to write from a position of sympathy and kindness, in solidarity with the suffering ones, rather than judging them.

This is how we can bless our readers and, simultaneously, how we can become more like Jesus, who regards us with the kindest sympathy and upholds us during every single trial.

Let’s write with the mercy, tenderness, and kindheartedness of Christ. 


We’re all on the same page. We’re all struggling. We’re all suffering in some way. No one needs to explain themselves. We can console one another right where we are, rather than acting like Job’s so-called friends. #seriouslywrite via @MelindaVInman

In this time of pandemic and social upheaval, what work is the Savior doing in you? How is it impacting your writing? We will each have an entirely unique takeaway. #seriouslywrite #writingcommunity via @MelindaVInman



The Shadows Come

Sequel to No Longer Alone 
 (WW1 Based on a True Story)

Germany threatens all of Europe. Millions have died. President Woodrow Wilson makes the declaration that the United States must enter the Great War to rescue our allies. Congress approves. Our story begins. In America’s heartland, everyone hunkers down to provide food for the world and resources for the war effort. A draft is necessary, and all young men must register. One by one, these are called to war. With this threat looming, Prentis and Avery raise the necessary horsepower, cultivate the needed crops, and contribute their labors to the Red Cross.

But crises at home, an insidious busybody, and one after another called up to fight in Europe bring the greatest dangers they’ve ever faced together. Then there’s the influenza pandemic. Will they survive the war abroad and the war being waged at home, threatening their love and their lives? Will their loved ones make it home again?




Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the South. Her fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives.

Connections:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MelindaVInman/

Website: https://melindainman.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelindaVInman

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/melindavinman/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00GFYI0RU 





12 comments:

  1. Thank you for your openness and honesty in sharing the struggles of life. We all deal with situations in unique ways. Sometimes, we need to put down our writing and pause to refresh. God has a plan for each of us. I am praying for you and your family.

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    1. Melissa, thank you! You have a kind heart, and the pause to refresh is a good idea at this time. I'm reading some fiction now by an author who has inspired me in the past, and I'm simply allowing myself to enjoy it, to step back, to rest. That's good advice!

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  2. Of course I've said in the past that I never want to be like Job's friends when a friend is suffering. But I never consciously extrapolated that to be just as purposeful in my writing.
    Love what you wrote:
    "We can aspire never to write like Job’s friends would have penned, condemnatory and smug, but instead to write from a position of sympathy and kindness, in solidarity with the suffering ones, rather than judging them."

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    1. The pen is mightier than the sword, we all know. Our words can thrust with Job's friends' precision, a small stab here, a flesh wound there, a touch of judgment, a dash of condescension. The question, "What did you do wrong to have this happen to you?" Our written words can sting as much as our spoken words, or more, because they can be read over and over. Thank you for adding your thoughts on this, Ava.

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  3. Such a good question you've posed, Melinda. When the pandemic first reared its ugly head, I felt the Lord saying there will be much good come from this. So for the last five months I've watched for the positive things that came about. The Lord has brought families closer, gave greater perspective about the value of life, and placed in my heart a greater love for Christian fellowship.

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    1. That's definitely one of the benefits/results we've seen during this pandemic. We're more aware of how valuable our families are, how easily we could lose them, and how fragile human life is. These are important lessons to learn. Thanks for commenting, June.

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  4. "Push back the darkness" is the Word that keeps coming to me, both to write about and to pray for. And how does one push back darkness? Not with a bulldozer! But with Light. Glow with love from the Lord, and darkness flees.

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    1. That's awesome, Linda! Thanks for sharing the message the Lord has given you to share. There has been plenty of darkness. The Light of the world is the only One who can push back that darkness. I'm with you. I believe that our awareness of the precious love we have in the Savior definitely illuminates the darkness.

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  5. Melinda, so powerfully written. Nearly every word and phrase resonated with me, dear friend. As a minister's wife, we have moved nearly too many times to count. With each move, I asked the Lord for at least one friend. Then, we'd move again. It became hard to put roots down, because I didn't want to pull them up. I fought the urge to put up walls instead and close myself off. This last move has landed us in my husband's hometown for 18-19 years. And although it has been wonderful to put down deep roots in the same place, the blessings have come with much suffering. Ministry is a rocky road, and the Christian journey on this earth is full of potholes. Our faith is what carries us over them. 2020 has been surreal with family trauma coupled with the pandemic. I want to minister and write well. And, no, not become like Job's smug and insensitive friends.

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    1. I’m saddened by all of your suffering and by the upheaval you’ve faced of yet another move. It’s so difficult and causes us to feel so lonely, even though the Lord is near, always there as our dearest friend. We all need human companionship. We’re created for fellowship and community with God and with others. These lessons are hard, but they are essential. They shape us into more compassionate people who don’t judge, but rather listen to and comfort others. God bless you, dear friend, in this newest place. May you find comfort in the Lord and may the Lord provide real, sympathetic, non-Joblike friends, the type of friend that I know you yourself to be.

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  6. "We can determine never to be Job’s friends, miserable comforters all, but rather to sit with the mourners in solidarity and silence from here on out, remembering the lessons of our shared hardships."

    Love that!

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