Tag: Dr. Seuss

The Power of Repetition

I hadn’t been to church since February, and I was starting to feel disconnected from God. During my first week back in a sanctuary, God spoke to me through a literary device — repetition. 

My church stopped hosting in-person services at the beginning of March because of COVID-19, and I’d missed a few weeks before then because of a bronchitis diagnosis.

Last week, I was visiting my parents in Upstate, South Carolina, and had the opportunity to attend church with them. The crowd was sparse, and each family unit was spaced 6 feet apart, but it was communal worship — something I hadn’t experienced in more than 12 weeks. 

I’d seen my parents cry in the church from time to time, but I’d never really had a strong emotional response during a service.

The band began playing a song by Elevation Worship called “The Blessing,” which is straight from scripture. It shares a blessing from Numbers 6:24–26:

The Lord bless you 

and keep you; 

the Lord make his face shine on you 

and be gracious to you; 

the Lord turn his face toward you 

and give you peace.

I didn’t feel blessed that weekend, despite my safe travels to South Carolina from Central Virginia. I didn’t feel blessed because I was (and still am) working from home with no idea of when I’d be back in the office. I didn’t feel blessed because my husband, a police officer, was working the night shift during a weekend filled with violent protests.

But when the song climaxed, one of the worship leaders began repeating the words “He is for you” over and over again — and something happened. 

Repetition is a powerful literary device that can be used in poetry and prose.

As a writer, I know that repetition is a powerful way to make a point. As a person who has attended counseling for anxiety, I know that repeatedly speaking truth to yourself is a powerful way to change your thought process. 

It felt like God was speaking to me through that song, trying to get a point across, to reshape my thinking. He was telling me that He is for me, that His blessings aren’t always extravagant. More often than not, they will be quiet reminders of His presence. How fitting it is that God, the author of all things, spoke to me, a writer, through a literary device.

The song continued:

May His presence go before you

And behind you, and beside you

All around you, and within you

He is with you, He is with you

In the morning, in the evening

In your coming, and your going

In your weeping, and rejoicing

He is for you, He is for you

The repetition continued, with the singer repeating the word “you” throughout the bridge, reminding me that I am a recipient of God’s blessings. My impression of blessings has always been that they are an extravagant act from God. Yet in scripture, we learn that blessings are small acts of love from God — from the gift of a child to the provision of food and safety. 

This song challenged me to look at God’s blessings in a new way. God blessed me that weekend by giving me the opportunity to worship with other Christians, and he blessed me by protecting me from harm during my travels from Central Virginia to South Carolina.

God’s blessings aren’t always extravagant. They are often displayed through friendships, safety, and provision.

He protected my husband who served on the frontline of a riot on May 31 and brought him home safe to me the next morning. And he blessed me with the companionship of my sweet sister-in-law the night I had to send my husband back to work, despite continuing protests in our city. 

God spoke to me through a literary device, which is a powerful writing tool. While this instance of repetition was used in poetry (a song), repetition can be a particularly useful tool for writing children’s literature. 

Take this passage from Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish  for example:

One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish,

Black fish, Blue fish, Old fish, New fish.

This one has a little car.

This one has a little star. 

Say! What a lot of fish there are.

 

Yes, some are red, and some are blue.

Some are old and some are new.

Some are sad, and some are glad,

And are very, very bad.

 

Dr. Seuss is well known for his whimsical, rhythmic writing. He uses a combination of rhyming and repetition in his work to create memorable writing that delights children of all ages. 

Repetition is also used in literature, such as Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two of Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” Dickens adds stress and emphasis to the positives and negatives, bringing attention to the polarity present in his time. 

God used the repetition in “The Blessing” to touch my heart and draw me back to him. I believe he can use your writing to touch others, and repetition is just one way you can emphasize your message of hope through Jesus Christ.

Emily is a member of the Write2Ignite planning team and works full time as a promotional writer for Liberty University Marketing. Learn more about Emily here.

Do You Live With Expectations or Expectancy?

Expectations or Expectancy

Have you recently experienced frustration? Plans didn’t go your way?

Maybe that meeting with your dream agent didn’t go well. Or the pub committee declined your project, despite enthusiastic championing by the acquisitions editor. Maybe you planned a full day of writing while the kids were in school, only to have your third-grader come down with a stomach virus.

That seems to be happening more lately. I’m irritated by circumstances that interfere with my plans and expectations. But what if the cause of the irritation is not external at all? What if I’m the cause of my own frustration?

Someone once said “the level of your frustration is directly related to the level of your expectations.”

Read that again.

Ouch.

So the real cause of my own grief is most likely…me.

Unrealistic expectations. Expectations grounded in reality as I want it to be, rather than the way it is.

Ancient Israel had a similar problem. Their expectations of the coming Messiah were based on cherry-picked prophecies. The sad result was that they didn’t recognize Him when He did come. They were so busy looking for a victorious military leader that they missed the Suffering Servant who came to redeem humanity.

So what’s the answer?

I believe the answer for a Christian is to live expectantly. And that includes Christian writers.

To live expectantly is to live in eager anticipation for how God will work in our life, without setting specific expectations or demands on what that will look like. Living expectantly allows us to recognize where the Holy Spirit might be moving in areas we would not normally look for Him. And it communicates that we are satisfied with whatever the Lord does, allows, or gives—without comparing it to our own agenda or shopping list.

Those who live expectantly have the privilege of living out a truth understood by martyred missionary Jim Elliot: “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.”

Remember Theodor Geisel? Does his name ring a bell? If you write for children, it should. But you might know him by his pen name: Dr. Seuss. If you’re not familiar with his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, you’re most certainly familiar with his other books, including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

Dr. Seuss also fell victim to expectations. During one interview, he was asked how long he expected The Cat in the Hat to take to write. His answer? “I figured I could knock it off in a week or so.” How long did it actually take to write? “A year and a half.”

So you see, we’re all vulnerable to unfulfilled expectations, even the great Dr. Seuss!

Will you join me? Together, let’s put aside our expectations and live in daily expectancy for how God will show Himself active in our life, including our writing life. And as He does, share your experiences with others to increase their own sense of expectancy.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén