“Put your characters through hell…
that’s the only way we change.”
Robert McKee put down his coffee cup and leaned onto the podium. He put his hand on his forehead and wiped back his gray hair. He said, “You have to go there. You have to take your character to the place where he just can’t take it anymore.” He looked at us with a tenderness we hadn’t seen in him before. “You’ve been there, haven’t you? You’ve been out on the ledge. The marriage is over now; the dream is over now; nothing good can come from this.”
He got louder. “Writing a story isn’t about making your peaceful fantasies come true. The whole point of the story is the character arc. You didn’t think joy could change a person, did you? Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over. But it is conflict that changes a person.”
His voice was like thunder now. “You put your characters through hell. You put them through hell. That’s the only way we change.”
Donald Miller speaks to my soul today, just as he has in the past years when I’ve read his words. This time is different though, this time it makes more sense, this time… things are harder.
A drawer full of lingerie and save-the-date cards are reminders of the things that were true a mere six weeks ago, but are no more. Unworn, and unsent, they are unfriendly tokens in my apartment of the painful season I’m walking through.
It seems strange to put such a thing on the internet, on a blog, where the world can see it, but I believe it necessary. The quiet, the silence, the lack of words screams at me and I want to update you on where I am, and where I’m going.
My time with the World Race is coming to an end, and it is not in the way that I thought it would. Plans tend to change, and I have always been aware of the truth that, apart from God, change is the only constant. For a few months now, the plan was to get married, move on to new things, and begin a new adventure. Well, the plan changed, and I find myself single, and resolved to move on regardless.
Six weeks ago, and six weeks from now – I am caught in the middle.
The eye of the storm, perhaps.
Six weeks ago, Ryan & I postponed our wedding.
Three weeks ago, we broke up.
Six weeks from now, I will quit and move away, leaving behind the people, job, and town I’ve cherished for the past year and a half.
Conflict changes us. It molds us, chisels us, shapes us, defines us. How we react, how we respond, how we reply – will and does change us.
When I was on the World Race, I thought life was hard. Walking and processing through the divorce of my parents, I thought life was hard. And now? Walking away from a relationship that I’ve invested so much in, I think life is hard.
Maybe that is just it though – life is hard. It makes sense.
[Even when it doesn’t actually make sense]
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Life is painful. Things can, and do… just suck sometimes.
Yet that is how we grow. It has always been how we grow. That is how we go from glory to glory, how we become more holy and more Christ-like.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Whatever hard thing you’re walking through, cling to the Lord.
Know that he is good.
He is faithful, he is trustworthy, he is loving.
Learn to not waste your suffering, and allow it to be redemptive.
Allow it to change you for the better.
And, like my best friend continues to remind me,
“You’re okay. And it’s okay that you’re not okay.”