There’s a kind of joy that hurts yet contains no sorrow. It's the best kind of joy because of its sharp edge.
I'm not talking about bittersweet happiness.
I'm talking about a smile that hurts because it's larger than you ever thought you could smile because your mind lights up with an emotion you never knew existed so strongly. It stretches muscles you haven't used in a while.
There is no sorrow attached to this joy, but it hurts because it is pure and without strings attached, and because it’s sometimes hard to believe it could ever exist when so much sorrow preceded it. And maybe "hurt" is not quite the right word, though it's a joy that pricks you and makes an impression. Overwhelm. Yes. That's a better word for it. An overwhelming joy.
There's a phrase of music that seems as important as something someone has spoken to you and you feel you must remember it but you don't understand why. When you remember it, nostalgia hangs in the air even while reason tells you you're being silly and shouldn't have a reason to linger on this melody.
There's a story that makes your heart lurch, though reason says it's just a story. It's not just the characters but their normality and humanness that grips you with its simplicity. It's not just the world but how it breathes. Why does it make you feel such longing?
There's a man named Mr. S who had a secret to tell: Stories matter.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
And the Word became flesh.
Our God is an author.
Recently I noticed how words are important in an elegant, gorgeous way, because words created life. The story Inkheart holds a shard of truth within its obsession over the beauty of books and words and fiction coming to life because of the spoken word.
There's a shiver I get whenever I listen to Beautiful Things by Gungor. That drumbeat during the chorus. The shiver on the back of revelation that GOD LOVES US. And in fact, the last night of a family reunion with young writers with visions to change the world, there was a narrow parade of writers listening to this song as we marched on back to our dorms under the stars. I watched them go, leaving the gym empty with the lights on. And I ran back through that echoing gym, shouting "YOU MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS YOU MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS OUT OF THE DUST." I ran for the thrill, I half sang half shouted for my awe. This fire has woken in me. This fire.
God is here. We're not alone, even in the haunting silence.
C S Lewis said the beauty and nostalgia we longed for wasn't in the songs or stories but shone through them, and what shone through them was the longing for heaven, the world we were meant for in the first place.
There's an overwhelming sense of love when you really /see/ God with the eyes of your heart, when you open yourself up to the mystery, when light floods your life and you realize that things are going to be okay and you never needed to be afraid.
And as writers we've been told that to write is to be alone, but I find that writing calls us to fellowship with others who write, and in this circle you find you are not alone. There's a joy that comes from seeing other worlds in the eyes of brothers and sisters in Christ, and a security in knowing God has you and cares about the story you want to write enough to lead you to the people who can help you make it better.
Now in this family of writers filled with fire, writing feels more valuable than it did when I did it alone.
We're not the sun. We're the moon and stars. We reflect God's light for the world when it is dark and light is precious. We search for jewels filled with light, echoes of eternity that harmonize with our hearts' desire for heaven. And we weave stories for the telling.