Being a parent and being a writer have combined to teach me about what I call The Care, The Fair and The Fire – three ideas that God hit me over the head with recently. These ideas have encouraged me to realign how I think of the roles I have.
1. The Care
On those temper tantrum, exhausting days — and on every other day — our children have absolutely no idea how much care goes into their upbringing: the work, the expense, the energy, anxiety and stress, the scheduled and unscheduled time, the orchestrating of events, the patience (at least some of the time) — and the love.
Similarly, the characters in our books, plays and films have no idea of the care we, their authors, lavish on them, for days, weeks, months and years.
Then I realized:
We, God’s children, the characters in God’s Great Story, have no idea all that God does on our behalf: all He orchestrates, protects us from, directs us toward, all He prepares for us, provides for us, plans for us. On both our bad and good days, God works behind the scenes for our best interest far more than we realize.
2. The ‘Fair’
Our kids stomp their feet and announce that something is not fair, or that their world is coming to an end because XYZ is not happening to them or because they don’t get to see that concert that Jessie is going to, or buy that gadget that Peter has. So they scream, fold their arms and storm off saying, “Not Fair!”
Just as we grown ups shake our fist at God and yell, “Really? REALLY, God? Are you kidding me? What were you thinking?”
Then I realized:
For us to question God is as ridiculous as our kids questioning us about something they know so little about but think they know better (“We won’t get sick from eating candy for breakfast!”), when we in fact know and have the bigger picture in mind.
Although we do listen to what our kids (and characters) say and ask, and want to encourage their questions and their boldness, they are not in charge. So them challenging our authority is as ridiculous as our main character sitting up and saying, “Hey, I don’t want that tragedy to happen to me. Take me to the zoo instead.”
3. The Fire
We discipline our children, the little ones we helped make, because we love them. We allow them to go through situations that are hard, so that they will grow, learn and form a strong character and faith, no matter what circumstances they face. We come alongside them in their worst times and in their best.
Similarly, we put our characters through tragedy and victory and everything in between, because we care deeply about them. We made them and want them to have as real and full a life as possible, because their suffering will make them better when they come out on the other end, and readers/viewers will be encouraged by seeing their own hard lives reflected in our characters.
Then I realized:
This is what God does with us. He created us and loves us. So He puts us through the refining fire so that we will be stronger, purer, more real, more true, more of whom we were meant to be, when we emerge from it all. We yell at Him; we cry and complain; we’re usually convinced that we know better about what is best for us. But we don’t. Just as our kids and characters don’t. The book of Hebrews calls God “the author and perfector of our faith,” and I love that idea that God is authoring the story of our life, refining and making us more complete as we go through life. Just like we want to do for our children, and for our characters.
The word inspire, which we know means to inhale or to fill someone with a desire to do something — actually comes from the original Latin implying God breathing into us (life and purpose), filling us with truth and meaning.
I want to live as an inspired parent, an inspired writer, an inspired person. I want all that comes out of me – words and actions – to be God-empowered and full of truth and purpose. What better way to live, to raise a family, or to write.
The Care, The Fair and The Fire inspire me to live differently and write differently, with more big-picture awareness of who is in control, and the preciousness of the roles I’ve been given as a parent, writer, and child of God.
This blog post originally appeared on August 4, 2014.