Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 NIV
Recently I realized that depth of character as a Christian and a writer can’t be realized without the one thing I strove to avoid.
Before I knew Jesus—joyfulness, patience, and faithfulness were sorely lacking in my life. I flitted from friend to friend and from job to job. This reminds me of a butterfly in a garden. It’s rare for a butterfly to sit still enough for me to capture a clear shot of it with my camera.
Like the butterflies, I was afraid of something. The thing I feared wasn’t the monster I believed it was; fear was the boogie man I needed to boot out of my mind. My submission to fear stunted my emotional growth.
Once I became a follower of Jesus, I began to submit to the hope I have in Him. I realized fear wasn't supposed to lead me. However, it wasn’t an easy habit to break. Thankfully the Christian life isn’t a walk through the valley of condemnation; it’s a journey of transformation.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
Love leads. It doesn’t wallop us over the head and tell us to smarten up. Love leads with gentleness and respect.
Slowly I stopped avoiding what I feared most: Affliction.
Webster’s definition of affliction: a cause of persistent pain or distress.
Just as there are honeymoon phases in marriage, life, and institutions, there are also seasons of affliction. Love is long-suffering. Love doesn’t leave when poor weather arrives. Love remembers the best about others and stays to see the sun return.
As a writer, this also applies to slogging through the messy middle of an article, blog post, or book manuscript. Sometimes we begin a project with loads of hope only to have it unload by the halfway mark.
This is when and where the author’s character matters more than the protagonist’s does. Will we stay on target to complete the good race or will we be sidelined by fear of failure? Even if our story doesn’t make it to print, the process of completing it, editing it, and submitting it for critiques are huge growth hormones for our character development as a person.
Let’s face it, the writer’s life—the Christian life—isn’t easy. Pain and distress are part of the package. They are the sandpaper, the chisel, and the hammer that build a better version of us.
I recently began walking through a season of affliction. There are things that happened that stung, stunned, and stripped me. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed and experienced. But the wonderful thing about this weird journey is
I allowed the hardness of life to press me in to the softness of His hands.
Bad stuff is transformed in the hands of a good God.
I’m a better person. A better writer. A stronger person. A stronger writer. My faith, hope, and joy grew. My love for the Lord grew deeper and wider too as suffering shaped my character.
I’m also a humbler person for the suffering because sometimes I didn’t handle the stress well and ended up saying or doing things that compounded the problem. Sometimes, I forgot to breathe deep and count to ten.
As a fiction writer, this helps me understand the story behind why a character may suddenly act out of character. Sometimes good gals do bad things. A flawed character, or a flawed writer, is more relatable. Nothing opens my ears to hear better than finding out the story teller has walked in similar shoes.
I’m nosy-to-know if your character (and your fiction characters) grow deeper during a season of suffering?
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac