By Lisa Karon Richardson
One of the best thing about Christian fiction is the freedom to include a spiritual dimension to our characters. An element of human nature that much general market fiction ignores all together. If explored, this element allows for deeper more realistic characterization.
In No Substitute, circumstances conspire to force the heroine, Amy, to return to her hometown. Once there she ends up having to face, Quentin, the man who broke her heart once upon a time.
But Amy’s not seventeen anymore. She’s grown up. Both physically and spiritually and figures she can handle whatever might come. She takes a job as a substitute English teacher and winds up with Quentin’s daughter in her class. As they spend time together, Amy realizes that Quentin is suffering and talks to him about forgiveness. A challenge she figures she’s conquered. After all she knows she has a forgiving heart—she’s trying to help the very man who has hurt her the most. It surprises her to realize there's an area of her life where she still has something to learn about forgiveness herself.
The internal tension brought on by that realization rings so true. God has an amazing way of finding ways to point out our blind spots. It’s not easy to trust him in the midst of the dismantling process… you know, that part where he is deconstructing our complacency and shining the light on areas we thought we’d cleaned out already. Sadly, it’s a lot like housework. Those areas that don’t get any attention tend to get cobwebby and grimy.
Anyone who has been a Christian for long has found themselves in Amy’s shoes. Shocked to find that we have spiritual spadework to do in an area we were confident of having conquered. Don’t lose faith. It doesn’t mean you didn’t, just means that we are complex beings and that there are more aspects to emotional and spiritual issues than we credit at times.
Have you ever been surprised to find that God was calling you to readdress an area of your life? How did you handle it? Was it an easier lesson to learn the second time?
If you've read No Substitute, what spiritual theme did you discover?