What's Your Story?
Morning! Gina here. For the last week I've been mulling over what to write. Kept coming back to one topic: Superheroes. I love them. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Not as much as my oldest daughter, Jerah, who is obsessed with them. (If I were obsessed, I'd post a picture of Ryan Reynolds in his Green Lantern uniform.) Primarily Jerah loves Batman. In fact, she has a list of her Top Six Batman Villains. Not sure why she chose six instead of the traditional five. Of all the Super Bowl commercials yesterday, which ones made me stop and watch? Yep, you guessed it: THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA. I love love love superhero movies so I'm uber excited for the ones coming out this summer and next summer. And that leads me to . . .
So what happens when Gina does a mash-up of Superheroes and Church? This . . .
My Shirt, My Life, My Spider(bite)
Maybe the red stiletto boots hooked me. Maybe the twinkling stars and commanding strips did. Or maybe, just maybe, the gold wrist cuffs were what won my heart.
Yes, I have to admit I have a Wonder Woman tee-shirt. One of my dearest writer friends thought I was loony to wear it to the opening night of an RWA STAR conference. Oh, but that feline lover was so wrong. I’m not a bit loony. I proudly wore the red shirt with Wonder Woman emblazoned across my chest. In fact, I even wore it to church upon more than one occasion. I'm even thinking ACFW this September.
Although I love Wonder Woman, she’s really not my favorite superhero. Neither are Superman, Supergirl, Aquaman, or the Wonder Twins. Probably my fav is Spiderman. Why? Because he wasn’t born Spiderman. His powers weren’t innate. One day he was happily walking along in geekdom when a spider bit him. In that nanosecond, his life changed.
William Wallace. Ghandi. Genghis Khan. Joan of Arc. Anne Boleyn.
Martin Luther. Thomas Jefferson.
But some stories aren’t as exciting and no one will find them in any book. Of course, most of us will never James Frey our lives for recognition, but that doesn’t mean our stories aren’t as valuable or significant. What is your spider-biting moment? What is that moment in time when your life hit a huge turning point?
For me, it was June 8, 1992.
I’d just graduated with a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Radio/Television and was working at a news radio station. My fiancé was a DJ at a local top-forty radio station. Life was good. Yet, I was miserable. My life had had a small turning point during my senior year of high school. My church youth pastor did something stupid (nothing immoral or anything, just stupid), which ticked me off so I slowly got less and less involved in church.
So by 1992, I had pretty much walked away from practicing my faith, from believing in the significance of being a part of a body of belivers. The guy I was marrying claimed to be a Christian so I justified that as him being a good guy to marry, yet I couldn’t understand why I was so miserable . . until I realized that a relationship with a guy wasn’t going to fill the ache in my heart. No man, woman, or child could offer me lasting significance. I need God on a daily basis. I needed to be following His will, His word.
I'd never stopped believing in God.
I'd merely sat down in the middle of the race. Ever done that?
After my realization, I ended the engagement and returned to the One True God who could heal my hurts and give me value. The joy that I had been missing consumed me. My life hasn’t been the same since because no matter what struggles, frustrations, or hell that arises, I have a peace and hope in my soul that defies human understanding.
That’s what I call a life-defining moment.
I remember when I was thirteen
I saw a picture on my T.V. screen
The Reverend Billy Graham and the people singing Just As I Am
And it felt like You were talking to me
And the whole world seemed to fade away
Until I heard my mother say "Son, are you okay? Do you wanna pray?"
And that became the hour I first believed
Next thing you know I'm high and flyin'
Next thing you know My heart is in your hands
Next thing you know There's no denyin'
Next thing you know I'm a brand new man
Got a picture in my head today of how heaven might look someday
I see the people there, so I pull up a chair
And their stories, they blow me away
'Cause I can see it on every face The evidence of grace
And as I listen it occurs to me
Everybody's got their own thirteen
So, what's your story about His glory?
You gotta find your place in the history of grace
~Matthew West, What's Your StoryEvery person who has lived as had a life-defining moment, although not all of those moments are personal encounters with God. When a couple marries, their lives take a new course. Even if they divorce, their lives are forever changed. Having children is a turning point. Losing a parent or loved one and realizing that life is about more than chasing wealth and 15 minutes of fame is a defining moment.
Examine your lives for spider-bites. What happened that changed you from a self-absorbed person to a giving person? What changed you from loving the man you vowed to love-until-death-do-you-part into wondering what a relationship with that other guy would be like? What changed you from working in a 6-digit job to becoming a stay-at-home mommy? What made you leave Podunkville, USA for a life in the big city? What changed you from being a joyful person to a cynic or a cynic into a joyful person?
What I love about fiction is reading a character's spider-bite moment. It's when s/he says, "Enough! It's time I change." And then s/he does. Another word for that is REBIRTH.
If you’ve ever read The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, you saw a comedic and earnest rebirth of a character. If you haven’t read it, then read it.
Writers: Take a really really good look at your manuscript. Is there a rebirth? If there isn’t, then maybe you need to take your manuscript on a tour of a laboratory that specializes in genetically enhanced spiders. Make your characters stop being victims of life and start being students of their experiences. And while they’re at it, why don’t we join them?
Serious Question of the Day: What's your story? What spider-bite moment changed your life? How are you different now than you were before?
Non-Serious Question of the Day: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and WHY? It took me months of pondering (my kids were always asking) until I finally decided I wanted the power to put thoughts into people's minds.