Tuesday, June 27, 2006

We interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program

To talk about guilt.

Guilt is natural, even healthy. It's our brain's response to conviction by the Holy Spirit. When we've deliberately hurt someone we love, lied about something to cover our backs, taken what doesn't belonged to us, or callously ignored someone in need we should feel guilty. If we don't we've got serious problems. However, sometimes we feel guilty over things that aren't sinful, aren't wrong, and aren't harming anyone.

Which brings me to the reason for this interruption.

Why is it so many female authors feel guilty about writing?

Perhaps it's because we feel our only calling should be to our children and/or spouses. Perhaps it's because we feel that writing is taking time away from more important things - like laundry, dishes, dusting. Perhaps it's simply because the American ideal is that we should have it all perfectly balanced and wonderfully maintained. No job left undone, no child left coloring pictures while we pursue our writing careers, no husbands wondering if the pile of papers on the computer desk will ever be removed. We are to be super thin, super fit, super productive, but most importantly, we are to make sure everyone is happy all the time.

But are we really?

I don't think so. Happiness is dependent on circumstances. I want to teach my kids joy. Joy in a task well done. Joy in spending time just being together. Joy in knowing we are where God wants us, doing what He wants us to do.

Just look at the Proverbs 31 woman. You know, the one we all love to hate. She obviously loved her family and made them her priority. She worked and she worked hard, taking the talents God gave her and using them to enhance every aspect of her family's life. And that didn't just include dishes, laundry, floors, games of tic-tac-toe and hide and go seek (remember, she had servants!). She made coverings for her bed, then she made linen garments and sold them. She bought fields and used her earnings to plant vineyards. She traded and her trading was profitable. She was savvy, smart, and eager to do whatever God called her to. And I have a pretty good feeling she didn't feel guilty about it.

Personally, I think she understood a lot better than we do the truth of life. It isn't about balance, but about love. It isn't about not pursuing our dreams, but about knowing that our dreams are only worth pursuing if we're taking those we love on the journey with us. It isn't about doing it all, but about working hard at a task God gives us, knowing that nothing we do can steal away any of the passion and love we have for our family. Being who He has made us is the only thing we should ever be striving toward, and who He made us may very well be a combination of wife, mother, and writer.

So, about guilt. Feel it when you should. When you shouldn't, when you know you're on the right track, doing what God has called you to, trust that He will provide the time and the energy you need to continue His good work in you. Then let the guilt go and press onward.

1 comment:

Jennifer Tiszai said...

Great post, Shirlee. Something God has really been teaching me lately is to not apologize for my decisions. If God and my husband are behind me then I shouldn't feel the need to justify what I do to anyone else.

It's difficult, though, especially when you receive criticism from other women (and writers) about writing while you have small children at home. I guess that thick writer's skin come in handy in all sorts of circumstances. :)