As a big fan of Joel Osteen, the non-denominational Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church in Texas, with his positive messages about maintaining faith- even when “the chips are down”, I compare his mission to the writer’s task; “to share faith through her stories”. While Osteen’s messages are directed toward the spiritual audiences open to them, the message of the writer is directed toward readers who are open to new possibilities, exciting new adventures, or to a life lesson.
I have emphasized many times in my past blogs how our mistakes, or our struggles, are often our greatest teachers, just as Joel Osteen tell us difficult times are placed before us to make us stronger, and to prepare us for something bigger and better. If you keep doing good even while something bad is happening to you, a new door will eventually open through which you are sure to find happiness and peace.
I recognize that Osteen has his critics who say he is merely a self-help guru or motivational speaker, who does not preach true theological issues, and for some- that description fits. As for me, I like the idea of self-help, life- coaching, motivational speaking, or anyone else who has a message of positive thinking. Regardless of “how” preachers preach, or the extent to which they convey bible stories or messages of faith and positive thinking, I believe whole- heartedly that God’s main goal for us is to love one another, forgive one another and help one another, through whatever positive means we have available. Perhaps, through love, positive thinking and faith…..
Whether we have a talent to teach young children, or to coach young athletes, or to preach soul- searching sermons, or to convey positive messages as writers- in order to make the world a better place, – so be it. There is a place for us to congregate to hear the Word of the Lord, within the confinements of our churches- for whatever religion we follow, and there is a place for us to open our minds and our hearts to the same, simple messages Joel Osteen preaches in his sermons…. through story.
When I say simple I mean; easy to understand, basic suggestions of ways to become better brothers and sisters to one another, -yet far from simple in the meaning. The idea to have faith, even when the going gets tough, is a large, and important message which we all need to receive, whether we listen to Joel or not, whether we are teachers or students, employers or employees, parents or children, church- goers or not, writers or readers, or anyone else. Our mistakes and our days of difficulty ARE our greatest teachers, but as students of life, it is up to each of one us to recognize our mistakes and our challenges, and grow stronger from them, rather than to succumb to their weight, and wither and die.
Joel Osteen uses Good Friday and the Resurrection as an example. When Jesus was crucified on that dark Friday, the disciples, and Mary, and his other followers, would not have considered that Friday to be “good”. On the contrary, it was the darkest day they experienced in their lifetimes so far. Not only was their leader and friend and son taken from them, but their faith was in jeopardy as well. Could they have been wrong? Were they following the wrong man? It was not until Sunday’s arrival of the resurrection, that their doubts were eased, their sadness changed to happiness, and their fear turned to courage. Like a rainbow after the storm, a new door to brighter days will open- only once our courage allows for us to unlatch the door that has locked us in for so long.
If we, as writers, can keep doing good while we challenge ourselves to balance our family time with working and writing time, judge ourselves less harshly when we are rejected or fail, push through our periods of self-doubt, reconnecting with our absent muse, we can overcome those times when something bad is happening. We can turn our dark Friday into a good Friday as we are resurrected.
As I go through my own personal, family challenges at this time, I continue to believe that everything does happen for a reason. God places obstacles in our path so that we can become stronger individuals, ….so that we become better equipped later to do something great, perhaps make a difference in someone else’s life without even knowing it. If somehow, our struggles ultimately help us in some way to become better people, who commit less sins upon others, or help even one other person as a result of our own resurrection, then those bad times are a blessing in disguise. The trick is not to quit, or give up faith, or to break under pressure, but to keep doing good- even when all we want to do is lay down and cry.
Writing is not easy. It is a painful sort of joy, but it is a part of a writer that is as real as an arm or a leg. The writer can no more not write than she can stop breathing. The key is to keep faith. Keep hope. Keep doing good even when something bad is happening. In the end, when the new door opens and what we were waiting for and hoping for appears before us, because we never gave up our faith, or our writing, we will realize those bad things that happened, those mistakes we made, those times when someone else let us down, those times we failed, will have been “ all good” in the end, toward the bigger picture.
In the end, it’s all good. The bad times make us better people.