Random Thoughts: GPS and the Holy Spirit

In a recent broadcast, a well-known TV preacher likened the Holy Spirit to the GPS lady so many of us have on our phones and in our cars. He reminded his listeners that every time we take a turn different from what the GPS lady provides, she pauses a moment and then says, “Recalculating.” He paused for the laughter and then said something similar happens when we disregard a direction from the Holy Spirit. He imagined the Holy Spirit also pausing a moment before saying, “Recalculating.”

The preacher said more, and I listened, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how many times during my travels down my personal life-road the Holy Spirit has had to pause a moment before whispering, “Recalculating.” He must have whispered because I seem to have trouble hearing both his original nudges and the subsequent recalculations!

I’m sure I’ve taken more wrong turns than I remember, but some were too memorable to forget—and not in good ways. We all get to the end of our road somehow, and side trips are not always bad, but I often wonder how different my life might have been had I not made a few of those turns—or if the Holy Spirit hadn’t had to spend so much precious time recalculating for me!

Making mistakes along the way seems to be how many of us learn, and learning from mistakes is a good thing, but I wish I’d learned earlier in life to ask for advice and upon occasion to actually listen to the advice! In the off chance that someone might be facing a similar fork in the road, I thought I would share one of my wrong turns.

Some years ago, I made a relocation decision based on the actions and words of another individual. The relocation was necessary. The city I chose was not. It was not even my first choice. I made my decision out of anger and hurt. I chose the more distant city, and I spent fifteen years wandering in a desert of my own making.

I’ve no doubt that choice had a tremendous effect on me, my life, and my writing. I suspect some of it was for the better and some of it was for the worse, but I can never know that for certain. I do know that move meant I would not be available at a time when my mother would need me. I did eventually manage to take early retirement and move back home to take a more active role in my parents’ care, but I could not undo what had already been done. I will always regret not being there for my mother sooner.

Sometimes choices are made for us. Sometimes we have no choice. Those times don’t figure into this. This was my choice made in anger and hurt.

When I chose that distant city over one nearby, packed my car, and hit the road, I can only imagine the feverish “recalculating” of the Holy Spirit. I suspect He sounded like a broken record all the way to my destination. “Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating.” I’m pretty sure He has had to do that more than once in my life.

I can’t help but wonder, for each of those points along the way, where I would be if I had made my traveling choices with a little more common sense, good judgment, and discretion—and a lot less emotion.

Have you made a directional change in your life based on something other than good judgment? What advice would you give someone in a similar situation?


Random Thoughts: Public or Self?

Some days—make that most days—I have these random thoughts floating around in my head. One day, I locked on to this one: Why not share my random thoughts? Someone else might be thinking the same thing—or the opposite—and want to commiserate. I’ve decided to follow through with that thought—at least once, maybe more often.

I must give fair warning, though. My thoughts run the gamut from positive to negative, pithy to convoluted, serious to satirical, ad infinitum. So, you would be well advised to read at your own risk. Nod in agreement, shake your head in dismay, or laugh at my idiocy. Dismiss my thoughts or take away a thought for the day. Now for today’s random thought.

As I edited the final draft of my recent release, most of my thoughts, random or otherwise, were about writing. I was not surprised when I remembered a quote I had run across some time back attributed to Cyril Connolly: “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

Hmm. On the most basic level, I agree. However, I take issue with both sides of his wisdom.

My stories are in my head. I know the stories. If I’m to be the only one who reads them, why write them down?

I write to share my thoughts, words, and stories. To me, my stories are one side of a conversation. They are an expression of my own self that I want to share with others. I don’t contrive my conversations. Why should I contrive my stories to fit a prescribed mold? On the other hand, if no one reads them, I haven’t shared them. If I cannot share them, I cannot have that conversation.

I do strive to write my stories to the best of my ability. I do try to adhere to the rules of storytelling. I try to correct all of the spelling and grammatical errors. Must I do more? Must I change a story to avoid offending sensibilities? Must I make a story fit someone’s arbitrary template? Must I force someone else’s agenda onto my story?

If I must lose myself, lose my story, to write for the public, I’m faced with a self-imposed conundrum: Do I write for the public or for myself? On a more superficial level, do I write to earn a living or share my thoughts? Can I do both?

To recapitulate, Mr. Connolly, if I have no public, why write a story I already know? If I dare hope to have a public, should I write the story that comes to me, or should I tailor my story to fit a display window mannequin?

Readers, would you prefer a story from the heart or a story that fits a template?

Writers, for whom do you write? Do you sacrifice the story from your heart for form or other dictates? Do you think it’s always possible to write from the heart and follow all of the dictates?