Monday, September 19, 2005

JK: Knowing, Not Just Believing

There are some moments in a life when, to paraphrase psychiatrist Carl Jung, we “don’t just believe, we know.” Maybe it’s the day we simply knew we’d be hired for a job. A day in 1994 stands out for me, a day I came upon an old Oregon Trail diary and the quote that forms the basis for the Kinship and Courage Historical Series. “Today we men wagons turned east the Oregon Trail, all driven by women their men having died and been buried on the trail.” I turned to my husband and said, “Now there’s a story!” I knew someday I’d write about it, just not when.

Surprisingly, when I’d tell women about that quote, they’d gasp and say, “What do you think happened? At what point did those women know that life as they knew it had ended and that they couldn’t go home to the home they’d left?” When I’d tell men they’d usually grunt and say, “Sounds kind of depressing, all the men died. Who’d want to read about that?” Since women buy 85% of the books but men make 85% of the publishing decisions, I knew I needed to find another way to talk about that story.

It came to me one day that this wasn’t a story about men dying, it was a story of triumph. When we get bad news – when someone says I don’t love you anymore or you’re being laid off, or we get that dreaded call in the night telling us someone we love has died – we want to turn back from that wilderness place. But we don’t get to and it’s a mark of our character how we allow others to help us in our vulnerable places, help us find new direction, to turn around, again, to overcome in this wilderness place.

A screenwriter might call that place of knowing, the “turning point.” Some call it “the defining moment.” That moment of knowing does something for us, something that takes us beyond merely speculating or considering and wallowing in the place of head thoughts where we are allowed to hesitate and stay the same. Knowing permits us to move, to act and to resist the negative voices saying, “Who would want to read that kind of story?”

C.S Lewis once wrote that we find God only in the present. I believe – no, I know – that God wants us not to simply sit and vegetate, not to rest forever on the warm white sands of a vacationing mind, but to know, truly know that He is with us, that we are not alone in this writing journey. And in our knowing we can act, and our stories will be the light in a sometimes dark and dreary world.

“Stand at the crossroads and choose,” writes the prophet Jeremiah in Chapter 6:16. “Ask for the ancient ways. Ask for the good way and walk in it. And you shall find rest for your souls.” There it is, really, all captured for us as it must have been for those eleven wagons of women along the Oregon Trail. Choose. Look to our pasts, to all that has been given and accomplished, to the evidence of God’s presence in our lives.

This day, I hope you’ll not just believe in what you’re writing but will know of its importance. I hope today to not just to believe, but to know this was the story I was supposed to tell and get on with the telling.

Jane Kirkpatrick, author of A Land of Sheltered Promise and Homestead (out October, 2005).


At 2:04 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for that post. One of the most satisfying places to be is writing the story I know God has given me to write. When I finally took my eyes off the world's opinion, and even some other Christian's opinions, and listened only to God, a weight was lifted from my pen.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

I love this line: "This day, I hope you’ll not just believe in what you’re writing but will know of its importance."


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