“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Recently, my sisters and I conducted an accidental psych experiment on how people perceive things that are different. All it took was a quick trip to a fast food joint and a moment of courage to inadvertently compile our results. The four of us had spent the morning at Barnes and Nobles discovering new book titles and authors, quietly giggling over some of the more ridiculous plots involving vampires protecting the world from savage fluffy ducklings (a bit of an exaggeration, but we’ve all seen books like this!), and containing our shrieks of delight as we rejoiced over the discovery of a favorite book in the clearance section, of which we all proceeded to purchase a copy. We were on an excitement high as we marched from the bookstore, our faces toward the sky, a thick, identical hardback tucked safely under the arm of each girl.
To keep the good times rolling, we stopped at Burger King for lunch. Perhaps we did it unconsciously to relive our youth of so very long ago, or maybe it was the scent of chicken strips, grease, and ketchup packets that pulled us to our munching destination. Whatever the reason, sitting in the drive through put me in one of my silly moods, and when I saw those paper birthday crowns sitting just behind that glass window, I knew we had to have them. My oldest sister DeAnna, being very well acquainted with my ever-changing eccentricities in the heat of the moment, hesitated only a second before asking the woman in the window if we could have four of the kiddy crowns. Smiling, the woman handed us our crowns, which we wore on the drive home.
It didn’t take long to catch the disapproving stares and glances of amusement from the others drivers and passerby. It was obvious to us that people were taking note of the paper crowns on our heads and viewed us differently because of them; we appeared unusual and didn’t fit in perfectly, and people immediately took note of this fact. It didn’t really bother any of us; actually, we were all grinning like idiots because we were so happy and uncaring what the world thought of us. My sister Elizabeth was actually the one to point out the similarity between this event and being a Christian. I know it seems like an odd connection, but being a child of the King of kings means that each of us is a prince or princess—hence the crowns. We weren’t ashamed to wear them, either, completely unfazed by the questioning gazes we received. It took courage for DeAnna to ask for those crowns, even though it was such a simple thing to do: ask and it shall be given unto you. We wore those silly paper crowns with our heads held high, and it made me think that we should be as comfortable proclaiming our heavenly crowns as we are ridiculous paper headdresses that are made for children. That’s not to say we should boast about our crowns with a sense of pride, because we are entirely underserving of them. But rather we should wear that symbol with awe and wonder and declare it with love when we remember that God actually thought we were worth sacrificing his Son. It had nothing to do with anything we had ever done to deserve such a gift, and yet we were each given a crown with a smile. All we had to do was gather the courage to ask.
“Every man’s life is a fairytale written by God’s hand.” –Hans Christian Andersen
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
I’ve always had a bit of a hero complex. That is to say, I’ve always loved heroes—both in real life and in the world of fantasy. It started at a young age when I became obsessed with Disney’s Robin Hood. I would watch that movie until someone extricated my little body from the tiny rocking chair my dad made for me, which I unfailingly scooted closer and closer to the television. Part of my fixation on that film and the heroes that followed was because of my thirst for adventure. Even when I was five I dreamt of faraway lands where I would slay the dragon and free the kingdom from a malevolent ruler. Watching the Disney heroes and princes of old defeat evil caused my imagination to make kingdoms out of my backyard and wild beasts of our dog. Everything was an adventure to me, and those heroes gave me confidence that little kids—and foxes alike—could prevail over even the most imposing forces.
As we’ve previously established, I have a fairly wild imagination; if I have an idea in my head, I can usually entertain myself for hours imaging and building on that singular thought. That’s one of the reasons why I love writing so much: I can take all these ideas and fantasies and weave them together for someone else to enjoy and live, if only in their imagination. I must reluctantly admit that I am a hopeless romantic at heart, and I don’t know a girl out there who hasn’t dreamt of being rescued by a prince . . . or an enigmatic hooded hero (but that might be just me).
I don’t really know where the somewhat unrealistic desire to be saved from a band rogue invaders in a dark forest emerged from—probably from absorbing copious amounts of fantasy and expanding on it with my imagination, but we won’t go there for now. I love journeys where valiant gentlemen and wounded men search for the light in a black sea. Circumstances inevitably reveal their inner hero as they draw courage to face the darkness surrounding them. But damsels in distress aren’t the only ones who need to be rescued: everyone needs saving, even the most valiant of heroes with all their courage and strength. Sometimes all their valor and human strength isn’t enough to save the maiden or themselves, and they have to rely on others and God to help them prevail.
I love writing about courageous heroes who have to swallow their pride and call on the aid of others, which you will discover when my book comes out. But Rising Shadows didn’t originally start out that way, though: it was a short story final for my creative writing class with only Sarah, Lilly, and Karen as the main characters. I will go into more detail another time about the full back story of Rising Shadows (previously The Shadow, and in its earliest stages Bethany Lane), but suffice it to say that an afternoon of watching BBC’s Robin Hood definitely inspired me to add a certain pivotal character and his journey to the story years later. The Ultimate Hero saved me years ago on the cross, but it doesn’t hurt to write a little fantasy inspired by the biggest sacrifice and most courageous Hero the world will ever know. I do my best to create endearing characters and strong men of valor, but if you look at the two side by side, my heroes and their sacrifices pale in comparison.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” –Edmund Burke