I thought I had wasted time going into the 99 Cent Only store when they didn’t have what I needed there, but making my way back through the aisles, it was all worth it when I caught a glimpse of God.
When I counsel other writers, the main thing that I believe they must know is that an artist must express who they are through their craft. I can’t abide any hopeful writer who asks for story ideas. I stress the point that the idea must come from the writer and that inspiration is everywhere.
One afternoon I saw a couple of kids walk down the street and go into a convenience store. One writer might look at that and create a story about a holdup. Another might imagine what the shopkeeper thinks of little kids and why. Personally, when I saw this, I wondered why the kids were friends and how far one might go to help another one out. My point is that who we are is expressed through what we create.
All my writing has thematic elements having to do with friendship, trust, and redemption. Read just about any fiction of mine and you will see it. This is because of who I am and what I believe is significant and true. I love creating characters that are flawed, because I am too. Everything I create, I want it to have the stamp of my soul on.
I went into the 99 Cents Only Store last Thursday to look for filler paper. I don’t usually like going in there because there is usually a long wait in line. I thought that if I got the filler paper, I would get myself a Big Hunk® Bar too to make it worth going in. But they didn’t have filler paper and I wasn’t going to stand in line just for a candy bar. So I turned and headed back up the aisle. Then I saw them.
A mom and daughter were stopped. I didn’t notice what the mom was looking at. But the little girl, who was probably 7 years old or so, was holding a large package of colored marking pens. These are the kinds of pens that come in a pack of about 50 with varying shades. The girl was holding them and looking at them with a face that held a wonderment of emotion. She was excited, joyous and determined. As I walked by, she glanced up at me and in her face, I saw the look of a person who is anticipating creation. With that creation, she was already feeling the adventure and love that the creator feels. She was ready to take those markers home. And regardless whether or not it was a self-portrait, the picture would show her. It would be an expression of who she is.
I walked out of the store and wrote a quick few lines in the notebook I try to carry everywhere just for things like that. Sure, it was nice to see a little girl being happy, but outside the store, I could not escape a compelling thought. The joy that the creator feels for their creation, that is how God feels for us. If I’m going to believe in God and believe that he created me, then it’s the same way I create things. I put myself into them. When God created man in his image, who He is was put into us. That doesn’t mean we are gods. It means that we are God’s, made in his likeness. And I saw proof of that walking up the store aisle, when a young child of The Most High God looked at me with the same feeling God had when he made her.
I wish I lived in a world where it would have been appropriate to stop and ask the girl’s name and buy the pens for her, and a candy bar too. But the world is fallen, flawed. And yet we are still His, made in His image. I saw this myself in the aisle of a discount store.