Christian writer/blogger Rebecca LuElla Miller has posed an interesting question over on her blog. She has asked this: How much darkness is too much (in Christian fiction)? Her question got my wheels turning, and sent me on a somewhat different tangent. I posted a comment in response, and at the risk of being really cheesy, I’m going to quote myself:
“I think most artists/writers/musicians do not set boundaries…They allow themselves full exploration into the world of sin in the name of self-expression and “art”. They explore too much, deconstruct too much, go too ‘deep’. And all without God’s armor…I’ve been guilty of going too ‘deep’, thinking there was something valuable to find there. What I found was nothing. Satan sold me a lie.”
I watched too much Oprah in my late teens and bought into her new age religion. I believed truth came from inside me, that I had an internal moral compass because at the heart of me was…God. To discern truth, I had to search within myself, uncover those meaningful nuggets of wisdom God had placed in the depths of my soul. I searched for those nuggets by writing poetry. Lots of poetry.
I poured myself onto the page. All my emotions, my thoughts, my fears, my anger. (Hello, God are you here? Nope. Okay, then.) Purge purge purge. Clear away the muck, clean the house, polish the silverware. (God? Is that you? Hello?) Keep writing, keep purging, keep searching, psychoanalyze, help the self, dig deeper. (Yo! God?!)
In all that searching, I did find something. Me. Yep. That’s it. Just me. I don’t know about you, but I can be pretty boring. Can you imagine spending eternity with yourself? Just you? Sounds kind of like hell to me.
What went wrong? I broke the first commandment. You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3 (NIV)
I substituted myself for God, I substituted my writing for God, I leaned so hard on my own understanding that eventually . . . it broke, and I fell over. While laying flat on my back at the bottom of that big hole I’d just dug, I realized, I need God. I need God. I need Him! Without Him, I have only me. Without Him, I am alone. Without Him, I have nothing. Without Him, I am nothing.