By Lisa Karon Richardson
One of the things that I've been exploring lately is the concept of being conformed. The Bible talks about believers being transformed. But the transformation isn't into some sort of random "differentness." When we are transformed it is into a particular image. We are given a new man so that we can become Christ like. We can take on more of His characteristics and strengths.
But so often we get it all backwards. We try to conform Him to us. We attribute to him our motivations. We try to force our agenda on him.
In our secret underground headquarters here in Inktropolis we've been having a rousing conversation about characters.
What makes us care for them?
What makes us believe that they are meant for each other?
One of the points that came up was that, like Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, or Rochester and Jane in Jane Eyre, a really great couple make one another better. We authors create our heroes with the heroine in mind, and vice versa. They’re literally made for each other. But then we spend most of the book trying to keep them apart.
Why? Because at the start they aren’t even aware of their need. They may be unhappy but they don’t know what can fill the void. It’s not until they get a glimpse of what might be through the other person that they can grow and change.
By the same token, we all, (heroines of our own story,) have been created with a single hero in mind. But it’s not until we get a glimpse of what we might become if we let Him in our lives that we begin the journey toward true love. Relationship with Him molds us into a better version of ourselves. He is crafting His perfect bride.
It’s because a Christian novel can include both threads, spiritual love and physical love that I find them so attractive. Do you find a character complete if they are missing a spiritual dimension? Do you ever find that real people who ignore their spiritual selves seem to have a rather flat affect as well? I want to be better than I could ever be on my own. To find my completeness in Christ.
Have you ever found a romance novel to be a mirror of our relationship with Christ?
Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her first novella, Impressed by Love, part of the Colonial Courtships collection, is coming in May, 2012.
What a great parallel that we also were created to be completed by God--Just as our characters are made for each other. I loved this, Lisa, and it wasn't just Jane and Edward's photo...ReplyDelete
I think I might just print this out. It's got too much good stuff in here that I don't want to forget.
Oh, and thank you Inkies for sharing all your thoughts on characters and what makes them compelling.
Lisa, I think you've given perfect voice to what a Christian romance novel should be!!! Bravo.ReplyDelete
What it shouldn't be and sometimes is--physical circumstances keeping hero and heroine apart but there steamy chemistry forces them to throw caution to the wind.
While those lovely sparks can be worked into a godly theme, without the spiritual transformation and submission to God's will, it is not a godly message.
I just finished reading Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist, and while I questioned the behavior of her hunky, hot, hero in a few scenes, the heroine did undergo a true transformation in her thinking, and the hero was a big part of that. She had to learn to hear God for herself and not just serve her mother's image of him. Now that's a good message. And of course that led her right back to hunky, hot, hero. Sigh.
Thanks, Deb. I almost put up just a picture of dashing Rochester, aka Michael Fassbender, but I thought that given the topic, they should both be included.ReplyDelete
"What it shouldn't be and sometimes is--physical circumstances keeping hero and heroine apart but there steamy chemistry forces them to throw caution to the wind."
I agree wholeheartedly. Those sorts of stories can feel very contrived. And they are in CBA and ABA alike, I think in CBA though we have more room to explore deeper, spiritual messages. I don't want to waste that opportunity!
I agree with Deb - too much good stuff here to forget.ReplyDelete
I am so guilty of trying to conform Him to me. Sometimes it's been a struggle for me.
Great post, Lisa!
Great post, Lisa. I love the parallel. (And the photo!)ReplyDelete
I think we're all guilty of trying to conform God to our own image of Him in some way or another. It's certainly rampant in our society. "God is so good, I don't believe He'd do this," or "I need to do this, and God's standing in my way."
I am learning to pray to recognize what God wants and what He is already doing so I can join Him, rather than dictate my own ministries.
Thanks, Suzie. I think we all do it. Partially because we can't always grasp just how infinite he is.ReplyDelete
Oh, Susie. I love the thought of joining Him in what he's already doing. That is so true. He's already moving I just to come alongside. Love it!ReplyDelete
Yeah, making Him conform to us is just exactly the "idols made in man's image" thing. We think something CAN'T be really what God wants because WE don't "feel" that it's right.ReplyDelete
And who are we?
Excellent post. :D
Good point DeAnna. I find that people also have no concept of God's love because they just can't fathom it. I don't know that I can either, but I'm willing to trust it!ReplyDelete
Great post, and that is so true! God makes us so much better than we could ever hope to be on our own! Thanks for the inspirational post :)ReplyDelete
Great post, Lisa. It reminds me of all those women who say they'll change their husbands after the wedding. Like they can't accept who they are now, but it's okay because after a bit of brainwashing, they'll be just who (what?) they wanted.ReplyDelete
Why are they surprised when the marriage runs into trouble?
When I write, I don't think ABA or CBA - I just write the story. I believe that's because my stories are more entertainment than conversion. I don't want to preach to people, I just want to show them how Christians live and that we have full, fun and wholesome lives. And bring an awareness of a loving, forgiving God between the first and last sentence.
I can't always tell when someone doesn't have Christ in their life, but I usually can when they do! :)
Hey, Faye! Thanks for stopping by!ReplyDelete
Anita, I love what you said: "I can't always tell when someone doesn't have Christ in their life, but I usually can when they do!"ReplyDelete
Lisa, what a great post - you gave us a dual lesson! I have given this much consideration before, though not the same example. Bless you for your insights.ReplyDelete