A Bathroom, a Penny, and a Magazine - Part Two
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A Dark Place
How much doubt can one person have?
If you don't know the answer, let me save you some trouble: it's a lot. When I made the decision to go in full pursuit of a writing career, every doubt imaginable assaulted me. Doubts about my writing ability and my ability to balance work and school were the easy ones. At the time, I was going through a major shaking of my faith, and those doubts were crippling.
Up to a certain point (about six months or so before that fateful bathroom decision) I had been spending years in preparation for one thing: to pastor a church, and it looked like that door might be starting to open one day, when I was asked to do something special by a person I looked up to and admired. When the day came, it was heaven sent. It was sweet. It was a terrible day, a day my dream came to an untimely death.
I'll keep the details to myself. The point is, it was a moment I'd waited for. (To prevent anyone's mind from wandering, there was nothing immoral or inappropriate, just a really bad day). After that day, which still kind of haunts me, I went to a dark place in my mind. I lost faith in just about everything and everyone. I remember being so depressed, at one point, that I could barely push the buttons on the machines I used at work. I doubted the Bible, everything I had ever heard preached or preached myself, and I surely doubted God.
"...it was heaven sent. It was sweet. It was a terrible day, a day my dream came to an untimely death."
It was during this time that the events of the previous post took place, and so I had even more doubts and fears to deal with.
- Years ago, when I started down the ill-advised path of extreme fundamentalism, I tossed out all of my books and formed the belief that all fiction was evil.
- That's problematic when you decide to dedicate your life to writing fiction. Now I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not it was wicked for me to write the things I wanted to write.
- Not only did I want to write fiction; I wanted to write fantasy fiction.
I had been dealing with this depressive quest for truth for months, feeling more and more trapped, when I started scouring the internet for the various beliefs about whether or not Christians should read and write fantasy stories. Why was I scouring the internet? Well, as typical of a person trapped in a legalistic form of religion, I couldn't find anything in the Bible against it, but I kept hearing how "all those books are wicked and of the devil." Aware that there was a conflict here, I was trying to find answers.
All I found was a fight that just keeps tearing people apart. It's the never-ending system of rules that keeps everyone from (God forbid) enjoying their salvation. Not God's rules. Man's. We fear man, but we ought to fear God. I digress. Anyway, the internet was just full of vitriolic hatred being spewed back and forth. About to give up, I typed in my last search, hoping to find someone like myself to see if they had gained the wisdom I was looking for.
And that's when I found it: a Facebook group dedicated to Christian fantasy authors. NO WAY! There it was, plain as day. I read every post with fervor, and I was looking forward to connecting with these people (in secret, obviously). And then the last nail in the coffin was driven home. The page was dead. Every one of those posts was at least two years old, there were only a few posts, and no one was active in the group anymore. About to give up and resign to the truth that I had made a mistake in changing my major, that I was chasing a pipe dream and needed to move on, I saw a link.
"He was lighting a beacon of hope on the shores of an ocean of depression that had kept me out to sea for far too long."
The link was to a man named Bryan Davis, and he is a Christian Fantasy Author. I followed the link, read his story, and found what I'd been looking for. Here was a man that had gone through something similar and asked the same questions. Thinking this was another cruel joke Fate was playing on me, I emailed him and asked him some of my questions. He replied that day! He encouraged me, told me that there was nothing wicked about what I wanted to do, and then provided me with some resources to help me get started.
I'm almost ashamed to admit to the amount of crying that took place during that year of my life, but it happened, and there's no point acting like it didn't. I cried when I read that email because I wasn't alone. I also cried because I knew that God really was moving the chess pieces in my life. Mr. Davis thought he was answering an email. No, he was talking me off the ledge, the ledge that led to a life of oppressed dreams and mediocrity. He was lighting a beacon of hope on the shores of an ocean of depression that had kept me out to sea for far too long.
And, all of a sudden, I was free. I didn't have to chisel away at my doubts anymore because God was melting them away. My wife admonishing me in the bathroom, and now this two paragraph email filled with an epic tale of hope, pulled me out of the darkness. That should have been enough, too, but the Lord was far from done. He was showing me his true power and my true purpose. Which is where the "penny" portion of this post's title comes into the picture.
That, however, is a story that deserves its own post, so I'll leave you with this cliffhanger. Don't fret for the beleaguered hero of this story, though, for he is coming to a great land filled with great promise.
If you would like to learn more about Bryan Davis and his inspiring books, please look him up: