• Grace A. Johnson

The Author of Love


One thing that amuses me the most, I think, about being a romance writer is how we are defined—and how I define myself. All writers are known for putting their characters through hellish nightmares that are both disturbing and painfully realistic. Romance writers are no exception, but, by accepting that title, they make one promise: the promise of a happily ever after. To achieve such, they themselves, even as authors, go through a heartrending journey as they craft their characters and a perfect romance—and, along the way, they fall in love.

To be frank, romance writers fall head over heels for a character, allow their life to be tremendously ruined (perhaps several times over), and then give them a glorious happy ending.

I should know. I am one.

What struck me a couple months ago is that not only does that description define a romance writer to a T, it also describes God.

How? you ask. Well, I’ll put it in numbered points for you, since I’m trying to contain the stream-of-consciousness. 😉

#1 Romance writers (RW for short) come to know and love their characters as much as if they were real people. We develop relationships with them (I know this sounds crazy...humor me for a second), we’re constantly learning about every nuance of their personality and facet of their lives, and sometimes we even talk to them (usually in the form of yelling at them to do what we forced, er, asked them to do). They become as much a part of our lives as if we were blood relatives, like a mother to her child.

How is that possible without being creepy? Well, we have to create a person from scratch—out of words rather than dust. We have to fashion for them a lineage, a genetic code, and a past that affects every aspect of their life and their story. We have to develop a philosophy (which is usually separate, if not the complete opposite of ours) for them to live by, a psychology that determines their reactions, and a theology that eventually morphs into faith. We have to walk where they walk, see what they see, and feel what they feel—and then we write it all down, like a child in a diary.

Once we’ve created a written character, we breathe our life into them. Maybe it’s a struggle we’ve dealt with, a question we wanted an answer to, a life we wanted to live, or a person we wanted to fall in love with. Maybe it’s our opinions, our dreams, our goals—or the total opposite, like our greatest fears and worst nightmares and crippling doubts. Like when God made Adam, gave him a spirit, and breathed him to life, we put a finishing touch on our creature and bind them forever to our souls.

Then they begin to walk...and they walk right into our hearts.

Likewise, God determined before the foundation of the world our DNA, our personality, our appearance, our past and our future. Then He breathed us to life, giving us a spirit and free will.

What’s funny to me is that oftentimes people believe authors have total control over their creation—be it their characters or their plot. We don’t. At least, the really good, devoted, character-driven ones don’t. Things don’t always go our way because, as we learn more about our characters and our world, we realize it wants to go or do something else.

Sometimes they end up wrecking our perfectly-planned story.

But, you know what? We love them anyway.

See the parallel?

#2 RW aren’t afraid to get gritty. At least, most of us aren’t. Even the sweet romance writers whose stories are happy and fairytale, Disney material don’t forget a dose of reality here and there.

People die. Characters are broken and abused. Their dreams are smashed. Their hopes are dashed. Sometimes, they’re physically harmed. Sometimes, they come to such a broken place in their soul and spirit that they almost can’t make it to turn the next page…

And we put them through these things. It’s called refining (or trial) by fire.

Our characters (ourselves) only grow stronger in adversity. The death of their sister makes them more loyal and sacrificial. The death of their father leads them to the arms of Christ. Years of living in sin draws them closer to God (and it also makes them more relatable to readers). Depression and anxiety and fear work in their (and our) favor as every chip and every knock against them is only smoothing out and perfecting the sculpture.

In the end? Well, we haven’t made it to the end yet.

The journey is rough, yes, just like real life.

Of course, God does not bring harm or calamity upon us, but, like with Job, He allows us to endure hardships, the consequences of our sin, and the effect of the fallen world we live in to make us stronger. He watches us grow in faith as we refuse to curse Him and instead give Him praise. He shows His amazing glory as we remain steadfast in our love for Him.

And...do you know what happened at the end of Job?

Happily ever after.

#3 The Author of Love promises us an eternity spent with Him, if only we believe. He promises us a happily ever after—sometimes even while we’re still living on earth. We are rewarded for our faithfulness, compensated for our sacrifice, glorified for our unwavering love.

We get a happily ever after.

You can’t say the same for the villain of the story, but if he gets his life right, the author (and the Author) might just feel pity for him and give him a reward or two. (In novels, that usually means we let him live to fight another day, or give him a chance to accept Christ before he dies. No, seriously. I did that with one character because, man, he stole my heart! And I just couldn’t live knowing he went to Hell…) In reality, if we—even the worst of us—accepts Christ’s gift of grace, we will get a happily ever after, and it’ll be so good that the readers will cry!

Authors love all their characters. We made them, after all. They don’t all turn out to be heroes or protagonists or even main characters. Sometimes they’re villains and sometimes they just fade into the background.

But we made them. We love them. We poured our heart and souls into them. And we are certainly jealous for them. Don’t say nothin’ bad ‘bout my babies, ya hear?

We let them go through some awful junk—why? Because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

And in the end? The Prince will come, riding on His white steed and brandishing a sword of lightning, rescuing us from the dominion of darkness and establishing us in His Kingdom of light!

Just remember that this Valentine’s Day, someone’s asked you to be His. You may be like me—only fifteen and a hermit—and have no one to send you flowers or chocolates. You may be missing your valentine, a loved one who has passed on. You may be struggling with your relationship and uncertain if you even want a valentine.

But, you know what? There is Someone, every single Valentine’s Day and every single day of your life. He won’t stop sending you letters. He won’t stop calling your name. He won’t stop gazing at you with eyes overflowing with love. The very Author of Love—Love Himself—wants you to know that He loves you. He wants to you accept His love more than anything else.

Just like a romance writer, all He asks is that you read His book as He writes the greatest love story of all time—in your own life.

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