Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Purposeful Struggle

I am struggling with the idea of purpose this week.

Not the inevitable "does my life have a purpose?" idea.

But instead I am debating "does my contemporary, Christian romance novel serve a purpose?"

As long as I can remember I have worn the teacher hat: playing school with my sisters, Red Cross swimming lessons, VBS and Sunday School classes, theater classes, aerobic and fitness classes, and now college communication classes.

I love teaching because I know and feel it makes a difference. With God as my guide in this teaching journey, we have hopefully changed lives for the better. I thrive on the knowledge that the teaching gifts I have been given have inspired others to better their lives or careers. A truly rewarding experience I would do for free and often have.

Without a doubt, this same God is leading me in a new direction now, and is urging me to wear a different hat: writer. But I struggle with the importance or value to others when we write Christian romance novels. Will I be making a difference with my writing? In this genre, do our plot lines and characters benefit readers and actually change their lives? Or is the life that will be undergoing change. . . . only mine? Perhaps I am over thinking it all.

When discussing this struggle of purpose with my husband, he smiled and drolly said, "Well, even Christians need some enjoyment in their lives." I think he has the right idea. Perhaps I need to relax the teacher in me. When I read contemporary Christian fiction it is for enjoyment. I like seeing characters dealing with some of the same issues our family has, but tend to read for the story that is presented.

I would love to have your input on this "struggle" of making an impact versus enjoyment. Have any of you been inspired or changed by reading novels in this genre?

From the writing perspective, have you writers of Christian fiction felt like you have made a difference to your readers or received feedback as such?


  1. Ava, what I great post. I can so relate. I think no matter what genre you write in you get to a point where you ask yourself that question, 'Does this matter.' My thought on that are, 'Yes. Absolutely Yes."
    And the reasons I believe that so strongly is because I don't think God puts things (like stories) inside our heart if they didn't matter. And I don't think He gives us gifts (like writing) if they serve no purpose. I don't think we can ever really know how God will use our words to touch other people's lives, but I know He can and does. The power of stories is ageless. Jesus Himself taught in stories and stories have linked generations throughout time. Romance stories matter too. Oh, how they matter. :) What could matter more than exploration of the human heart and emotions and this thing we experience called love and connection. Keep writing Ava :)

  2. Wow, Ava, you spoke to my heart! I have wrestled with this as well. What purpose is there in the story I've woven? Did God have a hand in it? Was it my own idea or was I following God's leading? What use could this story have? I think there is purpose in entertainment. I can't believe Jesus didn't enjoy life and I'm sure he played with the other kids in the neighborhood for the pure fun of it! God can and does use the little things to do His work. :)

  3. I think this is something as Christians we do struggle with. I truly want to bring glory to God through my writing. So I hope in some way I can weave a spiritual truth or point my readers to God in some way as the answer to life's problems. However, the message can't be "preachy" and so I struggle to share those truths in a natural outflow of who my characters are. Great thoughts!!

  4. Honestly I feel that writing serves a purpose period. You know how much I write on my own as all of my school notebooks are scattered with my one else sees them but me, but they serve a purpose in being satisfying to me! Writing can a serve a purpose simply to the person writing. Plus if you are writing something you truly feel God has called you to, then there will never NOT be a purpose!

  5. Hi, Ava:

    Thanks for following me! I really look forward to getting to know you through your blog.

    You pose here what's often on my heart, too, as I write Contemporary Christian Romances as well. I'm not published yet, but should that day come, I really hope that my stories not only entertain my readers but also help them grow as Christians as well. I think what we romance writers need to do is really dig deep for a worthy moral premise in our stories. Through all the entertainment value of our stories, there should be a moral premise glowing in the background the whole way through. Not sure if I'm achieving that yet, but it is my challenge and goal.

    For instance, in my current wip, judgement, or rather, the discipline of not judging, is the basis of the story, even though it's definitely a romance. What I hope is that it will enlighten my readers, as it has me, with how often we judge without even realizing we're doing so, and how those instances hinder us and keep us from discovering God's amazing grace!

  6. Ava- welcome back! I am so glad your computer has been healed!

    I feel very confident in my decision to write Comtemporary Christian fiction. I believe lives will be changed because I want to deal with real life in regard to the people of God. I am tired of seeing us cowering in a corner afraid to say we are struggling. That is where the enemy wants to keep us.

    Your writing will be a blessing in whatever genre you are lead to write in, because God's word never goes out void. Continue to let Him lead you.

    Like Ann Lamott said, silence all the other voices.

    Blessings to you...

  7. Hi Ladies,
    You have written such wonderful words of encouragement. I loved your comments and feel more serene about the purpose of what we do.

    Tabitha: I loved the passion that shown through your response and felt so inspired!

    Sherrinda:So relieved to know others are sailing in the same boat and asking the same questions.

    Jody: I so agree with avoiding the "preachy" aspect and weaving spirituality gently in the plot.

    Lori: So well said. Even if we don't understand the purpose behind it, God does. YOu are so smart, little daughter.

    Eileen: I so enjoy reading your posts and find they are so full of wisdom and honest reflection. Great methods mentioned in your example.

    Tamika: Your words look at what we do in a totally different manner. This is a genre that can fulfill that purpose very well. Thanks again.

  8. That is great to know about your future novel; I will be sure to pick up a copy in the future.
    Yes your novel will serve a purpose. Yes you will be making a difference with your writing because the story from your perspective is an angle that some readers can and will be able to relate to. This urge that you speak of is a way for you to inspire others through your writing…and through your writing you will be teaching with your stories. Even though God is guiding you to wear a different hat then he will also guide you in the process. Your struggle with writing now will benefit others in the future. And I know that by making such a difference in the lives of others will be truly rewarding for you; enjoy.

  9. Tim: Loved reading your perspective on the issue. Your words are heartfelt and I value them.

  10. Theres that old lie that if it is enjoyable, it can't be doing any good.

    He want's us to live in our 'want to's' not our 'have to's'. Anything else is without love .... cor13

    If you have read a book and it has made you want to be a better person, I'm sure that would be the gift of encouragement ... no?


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