The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does often times leave for a season His own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends. So that whatsoever befalls any of His elect is by His appointment, for His glory, and their good. – 2LBCF
I wanted to explore the symbolism behind Adele’s character a little bit. I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but if you haven’t read my first book there will be some spoilers. For some of you, this isn’t a big deal. You haven’t read it and aren’t planning on reading it, or you’re waiting for it to be published, or you just never thought about it. No worries. I’m well aware of the fact that what I write isn’t for everyone. For those of you who have read it and loved it, I will do my level best not to give away much in book 2.
Jonah and Adele are two friends in my book The Cost of Two Hands. They’ve both been salvaged from their past life into a new one at Greenhome. Symbolically, more deeply, they are a reflection of converted children. I was saved as a very young child. I don’t know the date, or the time I was saved. All I remember was crying out to the Lord for mercy one night as I faced my own sinfulness. Nothing exciting.
Nothing like Jonah.
Jonah symbolizes the people I envied. They had moving conversion stories. They were horrible people before they were saved, then ‘bing!’ they were converted, and suddenly became saints. For years, I wished to be able to see such a strong demarcation between unsaved and saved. I went from struggling to obey my parents to . . . struggling to obey my parents.
What I didn’t grasp, in my youth and inexperience, was my own sinfulness.
I looked at the life of another saint, filled with sin, until the grace of God came, and envied it. I didn’t know yet the depth of my own sinfulness as a saint. I look back at that little girl and I want to cup her face in my hands and tell her that she will face the horror of how sinful she really is. She will come to find out she is every bit the sinner those others were and are, and she needs God’s mercy and grace every moment of every day. I want to tell her that there will be times when she will weep for forgiveness, and be sick at her own sinful heart. I want to tell her there will be times her sin will rage against her assurance. Salvation as a child doesn’t promise a life without deep dark sin.
In The Cost of Two Hands, Adele represents me, and all those like me. She represents children who grow up in a good home, and are converted early in life. They have never cussed, stolen anything, deeply rebelled, taken drugs, slept around, cheated, gone behind their parents back, or anything. They are good kids. I was a good kid.
At some point, I believe all ‘good kids’ run right smack dab into the wall of their own sinfulness. They have to learn the depth of their salvation.
Adele is tempted to do something that at first revolts her. She is tempted to put a soul in a machine. At first she resists. She see the wrongness of doing this. One night, Adele and Jonah are trapped out in the snow. A pack of feral hounds attack. Jonah fights them off, but is injured. They get lost trying to get home and almost die out in the freezing-cold night. It is then that Adele decides she will build Jonah an indestructible body. She justifies what she knows is wrong, betrays her friends, betrays them again, and doesn’t see what she is doing until two of them are dead.
Being a fantasy story, the path of destruction is exaggerated. We aren’t often faced with betraying friends and killing them in the middle of a pitch battle between warring gangs and bands of kidnappers. We do often justify what we know is wrong, and end up destroying the relationships around us. Sin destroys. Adele comes face to face with her own sinfulness. She sees that just like Jonah, she needed to be salvaged. She needed someone to show her grace and cover her.
What I find interesting about Adele, as a character, is how much readers dislike her. Obviously, on a surface level, she’s not a real likeable character. She betrays her friends for selfish reasons, and even murders two of them in an experiment. Adele isn’t like Jonah at this point of the story. She isn’t good and kind and strong and brave. There is nothing there for us to like.
And yet, she has been salvaged.
She is a child of Greenhome.
I hope and want readers to not like her. I want readers to wonder why I saved her. I want readers to think of her as a monster who deserves to die. I want readers to weep over the death of several characters and wonder why I didn’t kill Adele.
Because this is my own character arc. I am Adele. I thought I was pretty good. I wasn’t like Jonah. Many times I have seen people God has shown grace to and wondered why he saved the monsters. Why did my own sweet great-grandmother not ever show a bit of trust in the Lord, but there is evidence that Jeffrey Dahmer might have been saved. That’s not fair! He was a real monster. Why show him grace?
Heaven will be full of monsters, because God saves sinners. He saves the ones who come with need and hope, begging for grace. He didn’t come to save the good, but the evil. He came to retrieve the dangerous. It took many years, and much sin for me to realize that I was one of the dangerous. That while my outward actions might not be dramatically as monstrous as someone like Dahmer, I am no less vile. I would destroy everything and everyone around me but for the grace of God.
This is Adele.
She is a child who never did anything really really bad, was salvaged and adopted into Greenhome, and only there did she face her own depravity. I think this is the experience of many believers saved at a young age. I think it will be interesting to see if my readers accept the covering of Adele’s murders. I think it will be interesting to see which readers love her, pity her, or hate her.
One of my older nieces recently read The Cost of Two Hands. I think she’s the first person in my actually target age to read the book. She read it in about 8 hours, which was really gratifying. I’m not sure she’s ever read anything this dark. She loves Lord of the Rings, so she had no problem with the writing style. She really disliked Adele. It made me smile. She is also a young adult converted at a young age. I wonder if as she gets older, if she will see what Adele symbolizes. I don’t want her to deal with sin as I have, but the reality is, she probably will. I wonder if she’ll see herself in Adele at that point. She may realize that sometimes you feel your salvage, the depth of your salvage, more strongly as you face the depth and darkness of your own heart.
So, this is Adele. She’s a good kid who follows the path of her own selfishness only to find the great darkness she is capable of. Will she find her salvage to be deeper than her darkness?