A Beautiful Reflection: Part 1

A Beautiful Reflection: Part 1

Posted on February 23, 2019

BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER

Introduction

I felt God’s call to start writing fiction in the middle of 2018. It came as a bit of a surprise to me since I’ve immersed myself in reading non-fiction for the better part of the last two decades, and most of my experience with writing has been focused in business, spirituality and food blogging. I have enjoyed consuming many fictional stories in my 38 years, but only recently did I realize its impact on my life’s journey.

Fictional stories afford us an opportunity to invoke and envision realities that we have not yet experienced. Depending on the writer(s), fictional stories may simply be created for entertainment, but sometimes are also used as a means to deliver messages that are personally significant to the creator. A fictional story may portray a world that is much different from the world God intended for us—but they can also be used to show us what God’s Kingdom might look like when fully realized.

Recently, I’ve found myself drawn to looking for clues of God’s message in the stories I consume. I find it very intriguing that familiar biblical messages are being delivered in books and theatrical works that aren’t at all marketed as spiritual works. I wrote a Grace Church blog article for the 2017 Christmas series linking the biblical message of loving enemies to Disney’s movie Moana. This is only one example of where I’ve seen an important spiritual lesson spelled out in fiction—but it was one of the first times that I distinctly felt myself growing spiritually as a result of a fictional story. Since then, I’ve felt compelled to multiply that experience for others.

In contemplating it a little more deeply, I made the connection that Jesus was a storyteller. Some of the most profound lessons he taught were delivered through the mechanism of story. And if he weren’t using the vehicle of fiction for His parables, I believe he would have given us names and other historical information to verify his references. But maybe he delivered his lessons in the form of fiction to make it relatable to everyone—by leaving out the historical references in His parables, he invited us to imprint His stories on our own lives and fill in the information gaps using our own experiences. I believe Jesus was brilliant like that. Amen!

Now that I’ve taken the first bold step to write a piece of fiction, I want to add that I not only felt God’s call to write fiction, but I felt specifically called to write for a teenage audience. I vividly remember holding pointedly intuitional spiritual beliefs at an elementary age, but never spoke about them with anyone for fear of reprimand. I can’t pinpoint where exactly my hesitations at the time came from, but now that I’m immersed in the teachings at Grace Church, I believe it may have been simply the deception of evil. I believe I’ve been called to affirm for our youth that they indeed can possess the Holy Spirit, and they hold the authority to share their impact with all of us.

I also recognize that one surface motivation to write fictional stories might partially be driven by a desire to share a piece of my spiritual journey with my own children—but I also see it more deeply as an act of love to help and inspire as many young souls as possible to discover and spread new understandings of the Holy Spirit and God’s love for humanity. I feel that God has blessed me with a spiritual gift to make connections between ancient biblical messages and current-day life, and I hope to empower young souls who may have a similar gift. I want to empower them to use their gifts to build God’s Kingdom through everyday interactions, and I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to use story as my means to do just that.

Fictional stories may not be the typical content for a church blog, but with a little inspiration from the Holy Spirit, they might just become part of our “new normal.” Without further ado, here is part 1:

Part 1 of A Beautiful Reflection

Layla pursed her lips in the high school locker room to even out her fresh, sparkling coat of lip gloss. She shot herself a satisfied smile in the mirror, looked upwards and gave a little wink just as her friend, Casey, came into view in the mirror’s reflection.
“Girl, you don’t even need that makeup. You’re so pretty!” chimed Casey.

“Oh, honey, it’s not the makeup that I love—it’s the expression of creativity!” Layla responded musically, flipping her tumbling, caramel-colored locks over her shoulder. “I can’t keep this artistry all bottled up inside.”

“What color is that anyway?” Casey snatched the tube from Layla’s bobbing hand. “Cinnamon Swirl. Sounds more like dessert than lip gloss.”

“And it tastes like a sticky bun, so maybe it is!” Layla giggled, grabbing her tasty gloss and zipping it up in her sequined cosmetic pouch.

“You’re silly. And speaking of silly, why do you always wink at the ceiling when you finish your paintings?” Casey joked.

Layla laughed and pretended to punch Casey in the arm, protesting the wisecrack. “I’m not winking at the ceiling, chica. I just gotta turn my face toward my maker and thank Him for the inspiration,” she said, deliberately catching Casey’s eyes to be sure her friend sensed her sincerity.

Casey scrunched her face in confusion. “Odd thing to give thanks to God for, but I guess that’s cool.”

“How do you figure?” Layla popped back with a rhetorical question, her disposition becoming more earnest. “God’s the ultimate creative being, and he made us in His image. Our inherent desire to express creativity is always a gift from Him. I think that’s deserving of praise anytime.” She lovingly patted Casey on the shoulder, “Anyhow, maybe you should try it sometime.” Then she gave another playfully conspicuous wink toward the ceiling.

“Totally want to, but my mom would kill me if I came home with cinnamon-smeared sticky bun lips,” Casey grumbled, letting her lungs completely deflate. “She thinks it’s an insult to God to cover over His ‘immaculate creation.’” She accentuated her salty tone with a set of sarcastic air quotes.

“Wait, what? First, we’re freshmen in high school now. Why all the drama about something that should be your own choice? And doesn’t she have like the biggest Christmas tree on the block?” Layla countered.

“Uh, what does Christmas have to do with makeup?”

“Hello! That’s a lot of God’s green branches that she covers in baubles of silver and gold. If you ask me, she doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on in her immaculate creation argument. In any case, I think it’s more of a compliment to the big guy to feel compelled to decorate and celebrate His creation. You know He does—I mean, just look at nature. God is the divine artist,” Layla reasoned.

“Forget it. I’ll never win that battle,” Casey groaned.

“Well, you could just roll over like that,” Layla teased, “or maybe you try and turn this into a purposeful discussion with her about allowing you a little independence. Listen, your mom is probably just doing her best to watch out for you, and maybe having a teenage daughter who wants to start doing her own thing feels like unfamiliar territory. Show her that you’ve actually got a grip on your own spiritual maturity, and maybe she’ll ease up.”

“She’ll just say that makeup is a distraction and I shouldn’t rely on it as a source of confidence,” Casey replied.

“Agree on the confidence,” Layla nodded, “but it’s hardly a distraction if it prompts you to praise God for the inspiration. For me, it’s like a time of communion and a daily reminder that God takes joy in seeing his children emulate His creativity. Don’t you think that’s something she’d want for you?”

“Good point,” Casey affirmed.

“Maybe stay away from the bright blue eyeshadow when you show up for that first conversation.” They both laughed as the class bell sounded through the hallways.

Casey threw a quick wink toward the ceiling and gave her friend a tight hug. “Thanks for the tips. Even if my mom doesn’t come around to it, you’ve given me a whole new perspective on being closer with God. People like to assume that makeup is more of a vanity thing, but I think it’s cool that you’ve found God there.”

“God’s everywhere, Casey. You just have to look for Him.” Layla smiled. “Gotta run—time for Biology. Later, chica!”

...to be continued...