Do you ever see yourself in a book character? Identify with him or her in a personality trait or a personal struggle or a major worldview?
Over on Instagram (@authorerinlewis), I’m posting glimpses into the characters of Firetender on Tuesdays. I love these characters – but not because I made them up. They truly took shape without conscious effort on my part, other than contemplating them. I love them because of their humanity.
We love fictional stories not because they are real, but because we can empathize with characters and situations. Even in a book with personified animals or inhabitants of another world, we look for that human touch and the human problems woven throughout the story’s plot.
You may be a 40-something married-with-children female like me, but can you relate to 19-year-old Dallas Malone, who thinks he can keep his life together if he just maintains control? Or how about 17-year-old Channing, who is tired of being afraid and weak and searches for something more, something that infuses meaning into his life? Or perhaps mid-70s Father Benedict, who sees what sinful mistakes do to people and must decide the best balance between chastisement and sympathizing? Or are you John, who never thinks much about his life but accepts God’s existence as a simple and everyday fact? Or maybe Murphy, who lives a quiet faith as he tries to create a more positive environment to balance his co-worker’s harsh correction of others? Maybe you’re Adam Smith, ready with a smart-aleck response for everything but good at heart deep down.
You may never find yourself with no home, and you may not make a snap decision to drive off into nowheresville when faced with your problems. You may not get into fistfights to protect others. You may never face a night in a homeless shelter, your car, or a prison. But everyone’s life contains crosses that must be borne. Are we willing to face those challenges and ask the hard questions of ourselves, acknowledging God’s power and goodness over all humanity? God is in every story, whether it’s intentionally Christian or completely secular.
At the end of the day, God is what each person seeks. So pick up and book, lose yourself in a story, and find Him as you identify with the characters.