Special Guest Post by J. Grace Pennington
Once upon a time, there was a girl who was often beset by strong, extreme emotions. Happiness was bliss. Sadness was despair. And despair was more prevalent than bliss. Her emotions carried her wildly along from one feeling to the next, until she found it nearly impossible to rise above circumstances and feelings to a state of peace.
An emotional girl.
One of many ways she sought to process these emotions was writing. Writing stories about things she cared about. Writing poetry that captured what was in her heart. She wrote about things that excited her, things that affected her, things that weighed on her. She wrote when she felt like it, and she wrote when she didn’t. She wrote in her journal, and she wrote in notebooks, and she wrote on the computer.
Another way she found to cope with the emotions was reading. Reading stories that pulled her away to another world so that she could come back with a new perspective. Reading information about how to improve her life, to do better, to make more of herself. She read books, she read blogs, she read the Bible, she read letters, she read the news, she read the back of cereal boxes.
Yet another way she coped was prayer. She prayed when she was happy, when she walked along the street and gloried in the trees and the clouds and the blue, blue sky. She prayed when she was in despair and wondered what the point of life was, anyway. She prayed when she was so anxious she felt nauseated and cold, which was often. She prayed when she was grateful for the many blessings God had given her. She prayed in joy, in depression, in confusion, in peace.
Finally, she learned to cope through action. She worked, worked on cleaning her room or at her job or at other projects she took on—too many projects. She went shopping and bought clothes and books and food. She took trips and relished the long drives; time to think and to sing and to listen to podcasts. She took walks. She watched movies, which made her laugh and cry and think. She reached out to others to comfort them, and reached out to them for comfort herself. She made to-do lists and never got everything done, but she kept making goals and felt the constant need for productivity. Even when she watched television, she knitted or crocheted.
A busy, diligent person.
In those times, though, on drives or walks or when she was too tired to write, or to knit, or even to read, she pondered. She thought. She wondered, as many do, who she really was. Emotional? Writer? Reader? Christian? Busy? Compassionate? Depressed? Caring? Selfish? So many traits, some of which changed over time. Sometimes something she’d clung to as part of herself would float away. Who then was she?
We all have personalities, traits, quirks, preferences, flaws, beliefs, dreams. But the more I’ve gone about my life, being depressed, and joyful, and busy, and literary, the more I’ve come to wonder—what if we had none of that? What if I weren’t emotional or a writer—would I still be me? What if everything I love and feel and every inclination were suddenly opposite? Then who would I be?
These ponderings led, eventually, to Reversal Zone. It began on the basis of the idea that it’s not our personalities that define us, but our character. We have all experienced small versions of this—one day we may feel generous, and the next day giving is the last thing we desire. But the test of who we are is that we give anyway. We may feel in love one minute and not so much the next—but the test of our love is that we put the other person first anyway.
It ended with the understanding that it goes even deeper than character to belief. Our beliefs, our values, lead to character. If we don’t believe generosity is something that is right, something that God desires for us, then why would we give when we don’t feel like it? If we don’t believe that love is important and a serious commitment, why would we choose to love when it’s the last thing on our minds?
This is what kept me going when I was sad, discouraged, depressed, feeling life wasn’t worth it, overwhelmed, lonely, and all-around not feeling happy with life. When I was afraid or tempted to despair, it’s what pushed me to keep moving forward and get up when I failed. Not my personality—not being emotional or a writer or a reader. Not even my character—my diligence and commitment and stubbornness.
Those are beautiful, important parts of our creation. But at the end of the day, it’s our beliefs that fuel our daily trek through this roller coaster known as “life.” For me, that’s my belief in a God who loves me, wants the best for me, and is sovereign over all of His creation. It carries me through joy and sorrow, through weariness and through hope. In the end, I know who I am. My personality and quirks may fluctuate, and my character may be flawed and inconsistent. But my God has made me new and is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
That’s who I am.
J. Grace Pennington has published four science fiction novels. They each
have a unique bent to them, but this one is very different. Each book
is a standalone, but as with any series, you get more of the story if
you read them all in order. In Reversal Zone, the main character, Andi Lloyd, becomes the only one who can save the ship and crew. Can she do it in time?
About the Book
to rescue a freighter that mysteriously vanished in uncharted space. Excitement quickly turns to unease when the
ship encounters an unknown phenomenon—a cloud that appears not to exist. But with the freighter’s crew in danger, the Surveyor
has no choice but to venture into unknown territory.
ship. They’re flying blind. Every piece of equipment is
malfunctioning. And every member of the
crew is unable to think straight or act like themselves—except Andi.
command experience and no one to turn to for support. And with each passing hour, it becomes clear
that if they don’t escape the cloud soon—they won’t escape it at all.
About the Author
talk, and writing them down since age five.
Now she lives in the great state of Texas, where she writes as much as
adult life permits. When she’s not
writing, she enjoys reading good books, playing movie soundtracks on the piano,
and looking up at the stars.
each of her three previous novels in the series. They are each standalone
stories, but they are also connected. If you would like to read more about
them, you can read about them here: Radialloy, In His Image, Machiavellian.
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