As an author, one of the most difficult things is writing believable characters. Every person has oddities and unique foibles that make up who they are and yet there are enough similarities to have them begin blending together. For example, one of the popular personality tests places everyone into 16 little boxes which gives indication that each personality type is the same. The idea of certain love languages makes one think that we each want certain things to the exclusion of others and the idea of certain learning types makes us cater to each person in that specific way.
The problem with all of this is that each person has flavors and nuances that make them stand out from everyone else. We are dealing with similarities but not sameness and we are not allowing for the growth of the person. I think most of us just want every person put in a nice, neat box that we can plug in our formula and make them happy. However, most of us, if we are honest, know this is not reality. Sometimes even those closest to us can surprise us with unexpected behavior, and there are times when we are on the receiving end of the surprised looks when we do something seemingly out of character.
The fact is the Bible deals with individuals and not generalities. The only generalities it deals in are the common sins we struggle with. While it points to pride, greed, selfishness, and the like as the root cause for our problems, it leaves it to us to wrestle with how each of us struggle with them and what it looks like for each of us. We know everyone is sinful and everyone needs a Savior, but when you talk to people individually, you quickly find each story of salvation is unique according to what God knew they needed. It makes each person’s story a marvel, no matter how much they think it’s hum-drum.
Stepping off of my soapbox, I’ll return to the concept of story characters. It’s hard as an author to quantify each of our individual characters. What really makes them tick and how really would they act? One of the things my husband and I like to speculate on is what each character would have done if they had been placed in a certain situation. For example: What would Kintrye have done if he had been the one to marry Aya? How would that relationship have worked? What would Lu have done if Khomar had not rescued Aya when he did?
Delving into the what-if’s can help us formulate who each character really is and what motivates them. They are not merely a personality type but a living breathing person who may break out at any moment and surprise you. But just like when those real people around us do it, they must do it with motivations that are believable even when they never come into the story.
So as we go into the New Year, maybe we should all resolve not to box in our friends and loved ones but instead allow room for Christ to work in their lives, even as we allow Him to work in ours. Don’t allow the world to define what you should look like but focus on the One who not only created you in the womb but sustains you throughout your life. Perhaps He is calling you to break out of your own box and step into a role foreign to you. Perhaps He is doing so to someone you love. If God is calling you into something beyond you, remember the words of God spoke to Joshua: