A Novelist's Thoughts on God
On February 24th, the wife of my oldest friend unexpectedly passed away after a short illness. I read this at her memorial service. Since many people came up to me after and said it comforted them, I decided to post it on my blog in the hopes it would offer some comfort to anyone else who has lost someone unexpectedly. Please keep my friend John in your thoughts and prayers.
A Novelist's Thoughts on God.
Writers get accused of a lot of crimes. We're liars, we're lazy, we're unemployed freeloaders. This is all true. We also get accused of having a God complex because we hold lives, fictional lives, in our hands. Also true. But this truth gives the novelist a unique perspective on the world. When I turned in my idea for the second book in my series, my agent read it and said, "I like it but I want you to cut out this character." I told her I couldn't do that. I needed him in book two because of events that happen in book three and book four. Unlike my agent, I could see the entire scope of the series in my head. I understood things she didn't because she could only see a part of the timeline, and I could see the entirety all at once stretched out before me.
So yes, we writers do get to play God with our people make of paper. And I'm grateful for that. Sometimes I have to hurt a character, even kill off a character, because the story demands it of me. But that doesn't mean I don't care. And that doesn't mean the character is gone. I have wept huge, gulping, humiliating tears of sadness when a woman had to tell her lover goodbye even knowing they would reunite at the end. I have sobbed in shared agony over a mother trying with seeming futility to save her daughter from taking a dangerous path even knowing she takes a safer route in the next book. These are all fictional characters. But to me they are as real as any one in this room or on the street. They are as real as my hand or my foot. Why? Because they are a part of me, and I am real.
It has to be the same with God. He knows how the story will end. He is the architect and the author of the universe. He sees our entire lives before him unrolled like a scroll, beginning, middle, and end all in front of his eyes. But still he weeps at when we cry on page 37 and he rejoices when we triumph on page 421. God loves a good story. Just read the Bible and you'll see that. And God loves a good hero. And heroes must be tried and tested. They can't prove themselves brave until they meet a dragon. They can't be show themselves true until they're meet the temptor. They can't forgive until they're betrayed. Our lives are stories and we are God's characters. And just because God knows how the story ends doesn't mean he doesn't hurt when his creation hurts. I am an author. Trust me. The pain my characters suffer hurts me as much as them. Why? Because they in me. They are me. Just as we are in Him.
So all we can do is trust that the author of the universe knows how to write a happy ending.
And we keep turning the page.