Uh oh! Following Christ has made me…different.
Originally published in July/August issue: Vol.2.Issue.4
Peer pressure is a dangerous thing, even within the church and even within the writing community.
Last month I was blessed to be one of one hundred seventy-six students attending the One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop, and one of the speakers, Mark Wilson, touched on the subject of peer pressure and “coolness”.
He said that trying to be cool, to fit in, can often very easily destroy our hunger and love for learning and our thirst for the “useless”, but useful, knowledge.
It can destroy other things too, I realized. Like standing out in our walk with Christ, and with writing stories.
Writers are so often labeled as weird, we’re misunderstood, we’re given odd looks and sometimes outright laughed at, and at other times people might dance around us at arm’s length, as if afraid we’ll make them feel inferior.
As Christian writers, well, that might garner even more looks and strange reactions.
But you know what? That’s okay. We’re not supposed to fit into the mold pop culture has cast.
I saw a quote on Pinterest that said something along the lines of, “Those who believe they can change the world, do.” Sticking to the status quo isn’t the attitude of a follower of Christ or of world-changer.
Anyone has the potential to change the world, for good or for bad. And everyone does change the world in some way or another just by existing. We all have spheres of impact, by being part of our family, by being a friend, by grouching at or smiling at the cashier next time we stop by the gas station.
Yet change by existence isn’t enough, and change for the bad—which is all too common—needs a counter-action.
As a believer in Christ, you have the power of the Holy Spirit within you, and the power to greatly influence the world with God’s Truth.
As a writer, you have a gifting of words, again, power to greatly influence the world.
Daniel Schwabauer, author and founder of the One Year Adventure Novel, also spoke at the Summer Workshop. He says we need to be connected to, and be living in, the Tree of Life. We need to have the Holy Spirit flowing in, around, and through us and our imaginations. Too much focus, he says, is placed upon the knowledge of good and evil, and not enough is placed upon life—the Life that comes from Christ.
Will focus upon that Life, upon the Truth, and upon God fix our struggle with wanting to fit in and be “normal,” while at the same time reveling in our status as “the weird writer”?
Probably not. Fighting against the current will always be just that: a fight. But redirecting our focus and asking for God’s power to work through that fight will keep us on track. We can be the geeks with the notebooks and tomes about Scotland’s kings or behavioral science and love it, because we have a thirst for knowledge and for wisdom, and wisdom comes from God. We can be the weird ones who talk to people inside our heads and with Bibles that are falling apart and love it, because we are secure in who we are in Christ and that we have a distinct purpose: to write Truth in Love to share with the world.
During the Soviet period of Russia’s history, there were still men and women in Russia who maintained their faith despite the banning of religious works. How did that happen?
“Stalin made one fatal error: he neglected to [ban] Tolstoy. The efforts of Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberation [&etc.] cannot equal one short story of Tolstoy’s to [keep alive in the human heart the love and knowledge of God].” – Anatoli Kuznetsov
It’s time for us to be modern-day Tolstoys, being “wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” to bring Truth, beauty, hope, and love into a world that so desperately needs it.
Don’t let peer pressure stop you, but instead, be thankful for the unique position God has given you, and enjoy “being weird.”