Was talking to a friend about imagination, fantasies, Christians, and limits. Got to thinking.
I daydream way too much. Or maybe I daydream in the wrong way. God gave us the imagination so it's to be used -- presumably. But how is a Christian to use it? And how is a Christian not to use it?
Oh there are the shoulda-coulda-woulda daydreams. A sad lot. Because they tend to be about regret. I shouldn't have said this. I shoulda done that. If only...
Not that it's always rejection. Sometimes it's just curiosity. The mind starts wandering/wondering. I often think of my two great-might-have-beens. Sometimes they end up in my novels or stories. And both have ended up in Onion -- with their real names, no less. So maybe that's the end of my daydreaming about them (if daydreams are a tool in a writer's creative arsenal.) Except for the fact that they were both white, they were guys who were vastly different from each other. Jeff was a red-headed Christian kid. So pure, so sweet, so shy, so holy. Terry was gay, in and out of mental institutions, Jewish or German, the leader of his arty clique, prematurely gray from all the debauched life he'd lived in the clubs. Weirdly, both never told me their love. And there was no "official" dating. Just these weird moments when the love was angrily declared (by Jeff who thought I should've seen it all along) or in Terry's case "undeclared" (as he tried to tell me for fifteen minutes but couldn't bring himself to say it so someone else told me years after the fact.) In both cases, I thought: Dang, was that what was going on all that time? Well, now they're in Onion. Except that in the story Jeff actually tells the main character he loves her and gives her a chance instead of shouting at her at the "end" of their relationship for not realizing. ::rolling eyes:: honestly, when I think about Jeff I find myself saying: with all the weirder more passionate stuff going around everyone's live in college, did he even think a gentle Christian courtship could be seen by non-observant clueless me for what it was?
But moving on:
The weird creative fact is that I have so many alternative lovers, husbands, families in my daydream that I really h ave to ponder this. God actually warned me about this habit of daydreaming when I was graduating college. Yep. In a dream, I was shown my real family and my imagined family...and how I had neglected the real for the imagined. And as I think about that dream and about my very bad habit of daydreaming, I feel God wants me to be here now. But I doubt he wants me to get rid of the habit entirely.
Okay, I know some folks are probably thinking these fantasies are sexual. Well, yes, some aren't. But most aren't. Although there are weird sexual and racial dynamics going on.
In these daydreams -- there are often common themes. Themes common to other fantasies, themes common in my stories, themes common in many fictionalized romances. There is always someone or some group I need to impress, some person of power, mystery. or wealth --either me or the other person in the daydream --, some foreign country, and the other occupants of the daydream are usually an audience. (Ah, no!!! Nor voyeurism but something definitely about approval or acceptance or rejection of the collective mind.)
In one of my pretty persistent daydreams I have a rockstar hubby and --he's way younger and I'm way older so women who think he wouldn't want me are stumped-- he and I adopt kids labeled unadoptable. I always wanted to do that with unadoptable kids. But I also always wanted to thumb my nose at all those white women who have looked at my hubby and me and said, "What does he want to do with a fat Black woman?" So yeah, hurt is in there.... And of course, it's got to be a rich guy whom everyone wants. But also I have fantasies where I daydream against white men. In one of my fame dreams, I'm on American Idol and I have two boyofriends... a native american and an Asian. Stepping outside of the "white guys are the best" mode. But also these guys are gorgeous and they both want me. Which reminds me... must make Constant Tower a bit more sexual.
The alternate husbands, boyfriends, and alternate Caroles tend to be either extremely cold or extremely passionate (not sexually but with a very large personality) --unlike hubby or me.
I understand that fame, woundedness, and my attraction to the wounded works in these daydreams. For good or ill. Often in these daydreams, I deal with wounded people...and I show the cruel audience world that I reject their judgment of the wounded folks. So, while I want to get rid of the habit of too much daydreaming, I don't want to get rid of the pure things that drive them -- such as my love for wounded folks, my desire to be somewhat special, my desire to live an unrepressed life.
And yet... I feel i must surrender it to God. Because I fantasize more about this alternate reality than I do about younger son's healing or my healing. What a horrendous waste of the imagination! Shouldn't I be imagining and daydreaming what life will be like when younger son starts talking? Especially if the imagination is probably a tool to be used in getting one's prayer answered.
I think when I get to heaven God'll say I lived half my life in an alternate reality. So yeah, it's good for you if we control the daydreams. Unless these muddled what-ifs and might-have-beens- and shoulda-couldas are really healing us in some way.
But where to draw the borders of imagination? When i consider that in some fantasies I'm young and with some passionate handsome alterna-guy..it's pretty unreal for me. Cause I can't grow young again. And when I do get somewhat real (kinda) and have daydreams about some young thing but am my own age...it would mean killing off my hubby if they were to come true? Am I right? Plus a very strange May September romance. Pedophiliac "robbing the grace" issues aside, what does that heal within me to daydream like that?
So I've been daydreaming since youth. Now it could be a response to my crappy childhood or my talent for writing. (Hey, writers daydream a heck of a lot) Or both. Although I've been daydreaming for ages, it hasn't destroyed my 25 years of marriage. But I suspect it has pulled me from praying and praising at night as much as I could. I expend a lotta energy and time on these daydreams.
And yet, it would be tearing such a part of my life away to not fantasize anymore -- if that is what God wants. I don't want to excuse what he might see as a real problem. I just feel childish and foolish because I want to hide from reality sometimes -- or to use them to get to sleep-- or because some facts in life are too painful for me to really face. And at the same time, the reality I've built up is so much larger than say the reality i've built up of Gabe's speaking
So... the decision:
Am gonna try to make my imagination be led by me..not me be led by it.
I think I have to have true comfort... and true imagination. God is my true comfort. To run to the fantasies also develops weird soul ties with non-existent people --and the rare hottie I'm lusting for (but that's very rare.)
I have to make God my true comforter...not the daydreams. I have to use my imagination to imagine good in my life. I must use my imagination to help me in creating my stories. I must not be led by it or addicted to it. It must not bee my own private sedative, especially when it's in something that can't happen. I don't mind living in a story... but when the story kinda grabs you the minute you get into bed it's a bit of a problem. Not psychosis but dang close. (Of course so many of my stories have been stories I lived in before writing them...so there is that writer daydreaming issue.)
But when the scenes in a daydream have been in our beds/heads for 20 years...in various forms...and has not become a story, and the core issues have not been resolved...then it's a kind of loop, isn't it? One is in a circle and cannot get out. When one is young and unmarried, it's not as if one is committing adultery with an imagined person. It's a way of exploring and testing limits. Can one allow one's self to sing and be famous in a daydream? Can one allow one's self to be loved passionately in a daydream? Or is the daydreamed self just as unloved and unrepressed? And if one is a writer, well ... writers write their own truth. We have to write truth in order to be healers and to show God's comfort. We just have to not become overwhelmed. And as Christians, we can't go letting some horrible sinful daydream take us over.
i mean...how in love are we with these characters? There is something pure about my characters. Let's say you're in love with Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. You can create someone like Aragorn...or you're in love with some Asian hottie. You can create a story with an Asian hottie. And yet... there is this weird code of conduct. The character isn't really yours. He belongs to the woman you've also created to love him and to be loved by him. But somehow it's healing to have created the characters...and the soul is a bit healed because of that daydream now novel.
I imagine these characters and I love them dearly. So the story might be born of a daydream but they aren't like some others I daydream about. Ah, we Christians. We have some heavy repression going on. Not because God is so repressive but because so many Christians who taught us are teachers of legalism and not of the gospel. But also -- when it comes to those things God forbids-- there is a reason for such repressions.
I think we can still fantasize and daydream...but we have to be brave in these stories. We must allow God to challenge our endings in these stories. It's about not limiting life, God, or ourselves..but it's also about reining in stuff that is just counter-life
For instance, I was considered beautiful by some and used to model. But I never felt beautiful So I needed all this fantasy. Especially with a quiet hubby who doesn't compliment me. Yes, I am greatly loved in my fantasies.
And yet I also feel that one must be careful and be ready to drop anything God wants us to drop... and it might be a matter of life and death of happiness in marriage or unhappiness in marriage...depending on how one controls one's imagination. We must guard the heart...what we put in, what we allow the world and the imagination and the demonic to put into it. It's good to study these daydreams to see what we're trying to work out. If we can do certain things in real life, we will move past them in fantasies.
I think we have to daydream about healing the sick and raising the dead to teach our minds how to be ready to do the commandments of God. Jesus says to heal the sick raise the dead etc. to not do that is to be disobedient. So i really should add this kind of thing to my mental daydream repetoire. We must be renewed in the spirit of our minds and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The conscious renewing.
We know that we are living far below our birthright. We know the enemy has been relentless
and our imaginations can fight the enemy but we also know the enemy also has a lot of knowledge about how to snare us...so we must be careful and take heed how we use our minds.
This will be a blog for Christians, for people who are part of a minority, for writers. I'm a poet, essayist, devotionalist, reviewer and writer of speculative fiction.Let God be true...and every man a liar.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Vain imaginings -- The Great Might Have Beens, The Great Will Never Be's
Posted by Carole McDonnell at 11:28 AM
Labels: Christian imagination
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