Being a novelist has deepened my understanding of some of the truths of Scripture. It has helped me relate more personally to some doctrines I knew and believed but found difficult to understand. These are very personal observation. Please take them with a grain of salt and not as perfectly sound, doctrinal expositions. Meaning, they are like all experiences, examples, and analogies for the truth of Scripture – they fall short at some point.
“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
― George MacDonald
I read this quote the other day and it gripped me in the corner of my mind where my stories wait for the chance to come out and play. I have sets of characters that I have written stories about for years. Again and again, I send them off on dark adventures. Some of them make it out on paper…or computer, and some of them don’t. New stories with new characters get mixed in there, too. It’s like having a new friend – so exciting. Some of you with children will probably tell me that you get what I’m saying but you learned it by having children. I learned it through the process of creating worlds, lives, and the events in those lives. Someday, I hope to join you, but for now, you can join me.
The process of creation is something unique to human beings. Sure, you can stick a paintbrush in the trunk of an elephant and watch them splash paint on a canvas, but to birth art you have to be human. Why? We are created in the image of God with souls. Part of that expression is being little mini creators ourselves. I can relate to the power and beauty of realizing God, the incomprehensible, has comprehended me because I create. The process of creating little fictional lives makes this quote mean more to me. Why?
I destroy their lives and rebuild them. I walked with them through the darkest of moments. I design and create them. I weep as I injure them knowing they had to be injured or they’ll never be who they need to be. I suffer and rejoice along with them. I am irrevocably tied to the lives of my characters.
This may sound strange, and it may be something only other novelist can relate too, but these fictional characters are very ‘real’ to me. I don’t mean that in some mystical way I think they exist, but they are something I’ve created, and they are an extension of my soul.
This is just a hint, an inkling, a tiny example of what it means to be formed by the hand of God, to have Him write my own story. I’m real. I’m a human writing about humans. He is God creating. To move beyond my experience as a writer and think about God – mighty, holy, loving, perfect, complete in Himself – thinking, designing, and creating me, is a humbling thought. Mind blown. My brain just can’t comprehend it. So I return to my little example to keep my brain in my head.
I spend so much of my time thinking about my characters, and God says my worth is far above sparrows, which He tends to every day. I plan each little step they take, each word they speak, each mistake they make. God says He formed me in my mother’s womb. I focus on how I’m going to heal them. God says he will make me more like Christ and finish the work He began. I’ve literally sit and weep on my keyboard as my characters suffer, experience loss, are tortured, and even die. God says He’ll never leave us or forsake us. I’ve gotten a better sense of walking through the valley of the shadow of death and fearing no evil for He is with me. Why? Cause I’ve put some people through hell and agonized over them more then than I did when they were happy. I don’t worry about them when they’re at the good part of the story. I worry about them when they’re at the darkest part of the story.
I have a better sense of not rejoicing in the death of the wicked because even my evilest characters have a small drop of pity from me. I don’t have any qualms about their death. My antagonists are evil. But, I still pity them. I pity them because they don’t want salvation. They love their evil and have no desire to leave the darkness and come to the light.
I have a better sense of the salvation of monsters because I’ve saved some. My favorite characters are the ones so unworthy of salvation. I look forward to the day when I am before the Throne of God and I get to see all the vile sinners He has saved. I anticipate that there will be some very horrible people there. Why? Well, for one, I’ll be there and I know my sinful heart. I also know because on a very small, human level, I have copied my creator – like a fumbling child after a parent – and saved my own monsters. Saved monsters are so much deeper and more wonderful than saved unicorns.
I write stories, even my fairy tales, about things that go bump in the night and the men and women who battle them. I’ve have characters who give up on anything resembling a normal life to protect that normal life for others. This has given me a deep appreciation for the sacrifices required by the men on the front lines in the physical battles and the women who stand by their sides. That understanding has blossomed into a deep respect for the men who wage spiritual battles against darkness. It has helped me appreciate and pray for the men responsible for my soul. Do you ever think about what your pastor has given up to be your pastor? A well paying career, worldly respect, friendships, hobbies, a hidden life free from judgment and peering eyes to name just a few things. Pastors have many sleepless nights filled with concern for their flock. Everything they do is under the microscope. And yet, they willingly put themselves and their families through this for the sake of the glory of God, the gospel, and you and me. My appreciation for their sacrifice has been enriched by my writing.
If I, a weak and distracted writer, can spend that much time working on her characters, how much more does God work on us, His beloved children?
All this the Lord has helped me see over the years I’ve been writing. In another words, I look at life through my Christian-colored glasses translating my experiences through the Bible, not the Bible through my experiences. When you do it in the right order, there is a treasure trove of truth to learn. I’m so thankful for my writing gift from God. I hope to encourage and lift others up with it. I’ll never write a story void of darkness, but I will always have light, hope, and a happy ending.