Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Not to seek imaginary gremlins and monsters
These voices are around us every day, disguised as common sense, reason and even love. They masquerade as having our own best interests at heart. I'm sure the sources of these neurotic voices are often convinced that they are on our side. The problem is that even if there is not an ounce of truth in these voices, when they present their ideas, we have that germ or seed planted and can't easily dismiss them.
I was doing a bit of Bible reading and came across this event in 2 Samuel 10: 1-4.
For those who don't have it handy, here's a quick summary. King David sent condolences to Hanun, the new king of the Ammonites, when his father died. "I'd like to show some kindness to Hanun, the son of Nahash-treat him as well and as kindly as his father treated me." But when David's messengers arrived, Hanun's advisors regarded them with suspicion and warned their leader, "Do you suppose for a minute David is really honoring your father? He just wants to snoop around our city and size it up." So Hanun seized David's men, shaved off half their beards, cut off their robes halfway up their buttocks and sent them packing. The aftermath of this misunderstanding was humiliation enough to begin a war. All because of a couple of duffers who thought searching for ulterior motives was wiser than taking something on face value.
One of my daughter's favourite movies is "Julie and Julia" as Emma is a keen cook herself. During the movie, Julie was jumping with excitement to see that somebody had actually posted a comment on her new blog. It turned out to be from mother, saying, "I seem to be the only one who is reading this. Why don't you get over this time-wasting delusion of grandeur and be sensible?" or words to that effect. I reckon it would have been easy to sigh and throw in the towel. But Julie plugged on and now her story has been made into a movie!
Here are some of the voices I've grappled with over the years.
1) Just put your manuscript in a drawer and get on with something else. Nobody is interested in Christian fiction by Australians.
2) You haven't got the right connections or personality to get far in life.
3) These miscarriages of yours seem to be an entrenched pattern. You'd be wiser to stop putting yourself through the pain and get used to having no kids. Or you could try adoption.
4) Homeschooling won't work. They need the structure of school to make them into decent citizens.
Another thing I noticed is that when I achieved each of the things these voices warned me I never could, the human sources behind them seemed to conveniently forget their former words. It was not a case of egg on their faces. Their gloomy predictions just seemed to have never been made.
I'm not advocating a heedlessly naive approach to life. We do have to put some thought into it, of course. But heedless naivety might be preferable to excessive reasoning with its brakes on. I do believe that following the passions and guidance that you know are deep in your heart certainly beats seeing imaginary gremlins and monsters everywhere. There are people who dare to try following their dreams and risk making mistakes along the way. Then there are people who never make mistakes because they're too neurotic to step out and do anything except warn other people not to make mistakes. This lack of mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.