Purpose in Pain

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by Jennifer Sienes

I lack imagination. A bold confession for a writer, wouldn’t you say? It’s true. That’s why I don’t do fantasy-don’t write it, read it, or watch it.

“What do you mean you’ve never seen Lord of the Rings?” my husband of seven years asked me. “But you’ve read the trilogy, right?”

Sorry to disappoint. But, no.

I’ve just lost half my readership. As a Christian writer, anything J.R. Tolkien’s written is a must read. But if I can’t imagine living it, I can’t bother to read it. This is one reason I find writers of fantasy fascinating. The way their minds must work to create vivid worlds that don’t exist is beyond me.

When I heard the words write what you know, I took them seriously-which is one reason I’ve struggled for years with the dream God’s put on my heart. And I do believe it’s a gift from God. Or as Monk would say, “It’s a gift. And a curse.” Because I can’t not write. It’s infiltrated every part of my life since the age of twelve.

Aside from a lack of imagination, I’m very practical. Another black mark against me as a writer. Being practical, I pursued teaching as a career choice. At least teaching would bring in an income and I could dabble with the writing on the side. During school breaks, I tried my hand at romance novels, but whatever I wrote seemed trite, bland and uninspiring.

Then ten years ago, everything changed.

I went through what I refer to as “my season.” We’ve all had them, and most likely we’ll have them again. It’s that period of time where God allows every conceivable fear to become a reality. I believe this happened in my life for various reasons, the first of which was to get me on my knees before Him and surrender my life (did I mention I was a control freak?) Then, of course, there’s the subsequent character development that comes from being stripped of everything I held dear.

Write what you know.

And after years of struggling with my writing purpose, I’d finally lived. It wasn’t pretty and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but God has a way of taking the ugliness of our lives and making something beautiful from it. And that’s when I knew. I wasn’t meant to write romance novels.

I was to take the brokenness and pain of nearly losing my daughter in a car accident, my first husband’s abandonment after 23 years of marriage, my mother’s death from leukemia, my brother’s suicide…you get the picture. I stepped up to the podium at my brother’s funeral and heard God say, “This is your story.”

I had my purpose. 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 “…so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Write what you know.

So I do.

2012 Platinum List Wedding Photographer Grace OrmondeJennifer Sienes has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in education. She left a teaching career to write full time and is a member of ACFW, Christian Writer’s Guild and Inspire Christian Writers. She was a 2013 ACFW Genesis Semi-Finalist (Contemporary Category) and has three short stories published in the Inspire Faith anthology from Inspire Press. She’s represented by Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Literary Agency. Connect with her at www.jennifersienes.com.

Comments 0

  1. Jennifer, count me as an ally in the fantasy bit. My sons can’t believe their writer mother has never read Tolkien either, and I don’t read fantasy although I did love the Fairy Tales growing up.

    My life has had complications very similar to yours. I took all the situations…divorce, suicide attempts,alcoholism, prodigal brother, mis-carriages, and others and used them in my writing historical and contemporary romance. My heroes and heroines face the problems I have faced and come through them with God’s help. That’s what I know.

    I look forward to reading your stories.

    BTW: You have one fantastic agent. I’m with the same agency.

  2. Jennifer, I felt as if I was reading my story. I also always say, I lack imagination. I just can’t make things up. But life gave me enough to write for years. Loved hearing this from you. Makes me feel I’m not alone. Bless you.

  3. Jennifer, How wonderful to see that you’re still writing what you know all these years after we bumbled along together in our writing infancy. 🙂 Praying God’s blessings on you and your journey.

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