"She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying." Mark 14:8
Okay, so this verse is on my mind today because I listened to a sermon by Esther Ibanga called "anointed for my burial." I
And it connected to me because it really made me think of taking up my cross, dying to self, crucifying the world to my heart, the fear of man. Much It has to do with my WIP, The Constant Tower. I find that I'm engaging in a kind of self-repression. It's as if I'm afraid to go through the same walk I went through with Wind Follower...so anything that's religious in CT is being squelched. (Yeah, I know...Wind Follower got published by a traditional and respected publisher and got some great critical reviews and nominations...and ...even Publishers Weekly liked it. But there were those two nasty reviewers I have yet to forgive. And the journey of submitting a flaky novel is scarily faithy.) Honestly, whenever my characters say something vaguely religious I cringe. I'm like... PLEASE DO NOT SAY THAT! WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS BOOK ABOUT RELIGION?
And so I'm kinda not allowing the story to come out the way it should. Heck, I'm even looking back at My Life as an Onion and saying, "Oh, gee! Why did I include the religious thing in that book?"
I so wish -- really, i do-- that I were more typical and less weird. The sad, sad, sad truth is that I am quite odd. Oh, okay, normal folks always say how odd they are...and that they have idiosyncracies. But honestly, they're not that odd. Or maybe their oddness is on a scale of acceptability that mine can never really make. So I'm always terribly afraid to let all that concerns me be in my novel. And yet, there's this weird part of me that puts it into my novels anyway.
So, Onion is a black christian YA book but it's not a typical black christian YA book. The character is plainly Christian but frank sexual discussions abound. The character is black and race is a big part of the story but not really. And the characters are super-educated. And now I wait to hear what Delacorte will say. I'm hoping they see how good it is. But wow! what if they don't want it? Would I be willing to remove the quirkiness and the frank sexual discussions and tone it down for a Christian publishing company? What would I do with it? Although weirdly, I'm not too afraid Onion won't find a home. What with all those godwinks, I think God has told me He's aware of it and will get it published. But how can I write CT without any of those godwinks? Can I truly walk in faith when I don't have a godwink guiding me along?
Anyway, in Esther Ibanga's sermon, she basically talks about the woman with the alabastar jar anointing Jesus and after that all hell broke loose in the form of Judas' betrayal, the disciples fleeing, the religious people turning on him, to solitary suffering in the garden. She says, "Lots of ministers want the anointing to pray powerfully, to do all sorts of great things, but do they want the anointing for their burial?
So now I'm thinking...am I willing to be "anointed for our burial?" Could I be anointed to go into the wilderness? To go through a fire? I sooo hate any kind of judgment or snideness from my peers. I HATE rejection. There are kinds of Christianity that are somewhat safe. For instance, the world isn't gonna get into a fight with an Episcopalian -- we American Episcopalians can be pretty trendy and easy-going about stuff like homosexuality, etc. Then there is a Biblical Christianity that is safe for other Biblical Christians: if one goes around being cookie-cutter, conservative, "normal," "happy," and "thorns in the flesh," cake-bakes, prosperity and doesn't talk about stuff like too much about extreme stuff like deliverance, the evils of the conservatives as well as the progressives, the evils of American imperialism, healing the sick, raising the dead, not loving the world or the things in it, etc...
Also thinking -- cause I have a morbid streak-- if God were to tell me I was to die...would he anoint me in a way that enables me to accept it and go through the valley of the shadow of death normally.
As a Christian writer, I guess there is a kind of anointing that can come. But if one is a Christian writer --or even a regular person-- who wants to speak of certain unsafe things.... that anointing is definitely necessary.
"Father God, let me do what I need to do so I can be who you want me to be so I can write the stories you want me to write. Remove from me the fear of man and let me be anointed for dying to self and to this world. I ask all this in Jesus' name. Amen."