I’ve been thinking a lot about character lately. The kinds I write, yes…but also our characters. And how, really, the two are pretty much the same, hence the shared name. 😉
I remember back in the day when I was a 12/13-yr-old, writing the first draft of the book that eventually became The Lost Heiress. As I wrote Brook, it didn’t take me long to realize she was a bit too, er, perfect to be a likable heroine. I’d paid attention to the lessons in my literature class–I knew that a good character was supposed to have–gasp–faults.
But Brook was, at that point, Idealized Me. She was what I wished I was. So I remember sitting down with a notebook and a pencil and scratching across the top of the page “Brook’s Faults.” I added things like “bad temper” and “impulsive.” Things I really couldn’t claim, but they seemed like more fun for a heroine than my faults.
The more stories I’ve written, the more characters I’ve poured onto the page, the less likely I am to ever enumerate their faults on a piece of paper. Do they have them? Sure. Faults…maybe weaknesses…sometimes it’s more an emotional injury…occasionally it’s what modern society would even deem an illness–mental or physical.
But as I’ve been pondering these things over the last week, thinking especially about the weaknesses that we might try to fix with medication, the kinds we have to manage, something has struck me.
The very things that we try to get rid of, to manage, to moderate, to medicate; the things we try to ignore, make excuses for, or are ashamed of…those are the things through which God uses us. The way by which He reaches us. They are the things that make us aware of our need for Him, and sometimes they’re the things through which His voice even comes.
That really made me stop and think. I’ve always imagined that God uses our strengths–which of course He does. But our hurts? Our insecurities? Our illnesses? The things the world tells us we ought to obliterate at any cost? How are those anything but bad?
In some cases, they do definitely need to be addressed–I’d never say they shouldn’t be! But through the addressing, God usually teaches us something. Through the managing, He reveals Himself. Through the hardship, He whispers grace and strength into our spirits.
When we’re lonely, we reach out for Him. When we’re sick, we lean on His arms. When our mind isn’t working as it should, there may be more room in it to hear Him. When our tempers rise, we often speak a truth that needs healing.
We all have our faults, whether we’re Christians or not. But what I’ve come to appreciate about those faults as I write them into my characters is that it’s in our very weaknesses that His strength best shows. A lot of society isn’t going to understand that–they’ll call us crazy, accuse us of listening to voices in our head, think we’re irrational.
They have a point. 😉 Faith isn’t rational. It goes well beyond that. But it’s when it’s irrational, radical even, that it changes us. Changes our families. Changes the world.
Because when we let Him work not only through our strengths, but through our weaknesses, then we’re making everyone around us think, “Why? How? Who?”
The answer to all those questions is the same: Jesus.
How has He worked through a weakness in your life?