Uniformity Gives Me the Heebies

By October 8, 2010 faith, language No Comments

An inspiring off-kilter flower arrangement

Symmetry irks me.

When I see home decorations that are too perfectly spaced, I want to rearrange them into an abstract pattern. I don’t like books to be lined up all the same direction. Uniformity often feels overly processed and devoid of life.

Even in writing, I don’t like to have too much order and definition. I prefer to be a bit more abstract and allow readers to be inspired to deeper conclusions than I have made myself.

When fear grips me, however, I have a tendency to write all neat-and-tidy because I don’t like to be misunderstood. Creative work is prone to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and the like; it’s part of the territory. Most days I’m at peace with it. Other days, I want to define my opinions outright and tell you your opinions while I’m at it.

Last week I heard about five minutes of a radio show discussing the parenting of teenagers. This one statement has stuck with me all week:

When you grab for control, you sacrifice influence.

Genius, eh? And although it was spoken for parents, it applies to all of life (as solid truth always does!), and the Lord has been embedding it in my heart as a truth for my writing in particular. [Sadly, I have no clue what show I was listening to, so I cannot link to it or even give credit. If you happen to know the source, please send it along!]

If I allow the fear of being misunderstood to control my writing, my desire for control will suffocate any influence I would hope to have. Any attempt to control or manipulate the opinions of others is counterproductive, for God is not looking for mindless automatons but passionate worshipers. Passion is a function of the heart, and the heart does not grow under the clamps of control.

Although my bent is for the abstract and slightly off-kilter, I am now aware that a desire to over-define myself is rooted in fear and played out in the realm of control. I want to camp out in the realm of influence, which is rooted in love and passion.

The risk of being misunderstood is worth the influence I might gain.

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