‘I did all I could do to undo me, but You loved me enough to pursue me.” – TobyMac
As some of you know, I am currently writing my first novel. To say that the process has been a difficult journey would be an understatement. In the story, a woman named Jodi fumbles through life making mistake after mistake. Broken and damaged because of circumstances beyond her own control, Jodi wanders through her formative years with a misinformed opinion of herself and others. She is isolated, anxious, heartbroken, and lonely. Like all humans, she seeks happiness, love and fulfillment, but finds merely illusions of this in temporary, vastly shifting, places like islands floating on deep, tumultuous seas.
I didn’t know when I began the book that there would be a point in my character’s life when she had dug herself so deeply into a pit that she couldn’t get out. Every move that she made in a futile effort to escape heaped more dirt and rock onto her head, blocking the light from entering her lonely cavern. There is a moment for Jodi when Love, pure in form and unwavering in its promise, comes down into that hole with her, stands beside her, and begins pulling the rocks off her broken body. In the book, even after our flawed heroine is saved, she remains at the bottom of the pit for some time. She is not alone, and for the rest of her journey out of her despair, Love remains with her.
Writing this novel has been intensely emotional for me, reminding me daily, as I sit down to write, of the pain and loneliness of life before Love breaks through. Many days passed by with my husband leaving home early in the morning so that I could write in complete silence. Hours later, he would come home to check on me, concerned for the darkness that hovered over me like a cloud. To find better tools to deal with the darkness, I went to counseling; it was there that the counselor, in quizzing me about the writing process and the book, asked, “If your character has been saved from her own pit of despair, why keep writing? Isn’t the story over?”
“If your character has been saved from her own pit of despair, why keep writing? Isn’t the story over?”
My answer resounded inside of me like a bell had been struck in my heart. I spoke my truth to her and then went home and wrote it, at twice the pace that I had written the first half of the book. In my story, Jodi must find her way out of her darkness. That takes time for her, and the journey still has many twists and turns. If I had left her at the bottom of the pit, finally in possession of the True Love that she had longed for, my book would be like many fairy tales that have already been written. Jodi’s story will be different because as she fights her way out of her self-imposed prison with the help of Love, she learns the truth and nature of that Love. It is as if, when she depends on that Love for her survival, she learns the depths of its commitment, humility, passion, and sacrifice.
The true story of Grace isn’t always a fairy tale with a sweet, syrupy ending in which all the loose ends are quickly resolved into a pink, satin bow. Royal weddings happen, and our happy ending looms in the distance. However, the best part of the story is when our broken warrior woman and Love slay dragons, overcome villains, and dig out of the mud together.
This morning, as I watched the TobyMac video, I was reminded of Jodi’s moment of redemption. When the old man in the video has fallen to his knees because of being broken by the foolish acts of others, he cries out for Love to save him. I reversed the video and watched it again, looking at the expression on his face. That expression is Jodi’s when she is stranded at the bottom of her grave-like pit with a look of complete desperation and DEPENDENCE. “Help me!” like a baby she cries, he cries…at some point, we all cry. And then, Love breaks through, and we begin the journey out, never to be alone again.
I look forward to sharing Jodi’s story with you. I feel like she is a separate human being that I have created, waiting patiently to be born. Like a mother, I sit down daily to write her, in desperate anticipation of the day that she will finally emerge from the womb. I tally my words, tracking my averages, attempting to determine what day her body will finally be complete and ready to enter the world, to be shared with others. Like every other person who is born into this life, she has a purpose, and I hope that it is to help other people find the Love that can dig them out of their graves.