I’ve spent the past two and a half years working on three manuscripts. What was first one historical novel with three parts has grown into three separate books, thanks to some wise guidance from my agent. Even if no one else ever sets eyes on these manuscripts, I’ve loved every second of all the hours I’ve poured into them. Writing this series breathes life into me. (I’m excited to still have most of the third left to write.) It’s amazing the lessons God teaches you when you are doing your best to partner with him to create something new. Exciting and humbling.
The other day I was browsing the internet for pictures of my characters. My story is set in the forties during WW2, and I’ve had years of developing my main characters in my mind and on the page, but had never had a true visual.
Then I found The Picture. A young couple from decades ago sitting across from each other in a soda shop, staring into each other’s eyes while sipping from the same soda with smiles on their faces.
I can’t tell you how excited I was. I felt like I had just found hidden treasure. Since discovering and saving the photo, I’ve pulled it up over a dozen times just to stare at it for a few seconds and smile. I feel like it’s them—the very people (well, characters) I’ve grown to know and love. Because as any fiction writer will tell you; their characters are so real.
You’re probably asking, what does this have to do with God? Good question. Stick with me.
The evening after I found this treasured photo, I was pulling laundry out of the dryer and thinking. I was thinking of the hard things my characters face as several different scenes flashed through my mind. In the photo, the couple appears blissfully happy and carefree. Aren’t we all, before?
Before the first big life tragedy strikes, most of us are pretty optimistic about life.
Maybe I’d just had a long day, but I found myself tearing up as I thought of my characters—who now had faces—going through such hard things.
Then, my thoughts turned to all the good that was going to come from the struggles. Because, of course, I get to make up the story, so I know nothing is for naught. No struggle within my pages is without purpose. All the loose ends are tied up in the end for a larger purpose. A purpose that never could have arrived without the struggles.
I had a sudden urge to speak to my blissfully happy characters from the beginning of the story. I wanted to tell them to hold on; that I had a big plan for them, but it was going to be a bumpy ride. I wanted to tell them bigger things were at stake; things they couldn’t see just yet. I wanted to tell them they could trust me to bring goodness from the struggle and redeem their situations.
And then I shut myself in the bathroom and let a few tears fall as the correlation struck me so vividly. Wow. I’d never shared such camaraderie with God before. If it wasn’t personal before, now it was.
How many times must God have thought similar things in regards to you and me? God is the author of each of our stories. He sees us in our struggles when we’re doubting, questioning, hurt, and angry. And he knows the only way to the goodness on the other side is straight through the pain. He hurts when we hurt, but he knows how the story ends. He’s weaving our lives through the hardships straight into his ultimate goodness for his purposes that we can’t understand from our place in the middle of the story.
And so we take another deep breath, remember God is good all the time, and determine once again to trust him as we move forward with our unpredictable lives.
Don’t judge your life story just yet. Remember you’re only in the middle, and whatever hard things you’re facing, just let God keep a firm grasp of the pen and let him tell the story to the end. I have a feeling the ending is going to make it all worth it.
When was the last time God surprised you with a deeper understanding of him? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! 🙂
I really want to share the photo of my characters, but I also want to hold it close to the chest for a little bit longer. One day I’ll share it. In the meantime, as always, the publishing game is a marathon not a sprint, so say a prayer for my patience on the journey to find my stories the right publishing home. Have a great week and thanks so much for reading all the way to the end!
6 thoughts on “The Huge Truth My Characters Taught Me About Trusting God”
I took a course in creative writing some years back, one thing that stuck with me was the professor claimed that all writers are writing at some point about themselves. It is the subject they know best and the character they are most comfortable with even when there is conflict.
Thankfully God knows the beginning through to the end and He has a plan for each of us.
Thanks for sharing, Patrice! Interesting that your professor said writers are basically writing about themselves much of the time. I’ve heard other writers claim they don’t do that at all, and maybe it’s true, but I personally can’t imagine making a character sound believable if I didn’t write myself into them at least a tiny bit. 🙂
And yes—so very thankful God is the one who has the story plotted out and it’s not all on my shoulders!
I love this, Jessie. Having a look at the story from a larger perspective is eye-(and heart-)opening, even when it’s fiction. I had an unexpected look at the private communication of my older boys for a while. I didn’t try to get it, but a location tracking app somehow captured lots of their texts even though I configured it to not do that. And I read about things I wish never were. I never directly confronted them on the things I wasn’t supposed to read, but I did steer conversations sometimes to address some revealed issues. I remember thinking how God must look at us fully knowing the sin in our hearts, yet He is patient and wants to teach us, holding back the punishment we deserve. That was a profound time in my life.
What a challenging position to find yourself in, Stephen! Observing others whom we love dearly certainly does help us understand the mind of God for his people (on a small scale, of course). It sounds like God was able to guide you into certain areas of their lives in order to pull their eyes back up to Him.
“I wanted to tell them they could trust me to bring goodness from the struggle and redeem their situations.” What a beautiful thought, imagining that to be God as he watches over our personal lives! Thank you Jessie for such wonderful encouragement, and what a meaningful revelation to your heart as well! God is SO good. Thanks for this post!
Thank you, SJ! Yes, he is so, so good. 😊
Comments are closed.