Stories on the edge of familiarity

Heart (The Illuminated Heart Book Launch)

Last time, after finding some breathtakingly beautiful photos of Iceland and benefitted from the research skills of a friend, I was able to take the story idea even further from the original “fairy tale with zombies” to “A Christian Icelandic girl goes away with a polar bear to save her family from poverty, screws up and gets the bear into huge trouble, then goes and saves him from a draugur queen.”

But, even still, the idea had something huge missing.

Its soul.

Heart, the breaking of

Just after I turned ten, my family packed up and moved from our home in Alberta, Canada, to Alabama, U.S.A., where we lived for three years while my dad went to Bible school. During that time, I had depression, a temporary kind that generally happens to kids, especially after a move. I didn’t know that at the time, though. All I knew was that I was sad almost all the time for no apparent reason, I occasionally contemplated killing myself (and I knew exactly how I would do it), and there were many nights where I would yell at God and cry before going to sleep.

I was upset at him and all I wanted was for him to say something to me, or for him to hold me such that I could feel it. But I didn’t hear anything, didn’t feel anything. I would comfort myself as best I could until I fell asleep. The next day would come, followed by the evening, and it would start over again.

Heart, the healing of

In April 2013, I was helping with a conference, during which we were learning a lot about God and heart beliefs. On the Saturday evening, I went to bed troubled. After a bit of probing, all that pain welled up and I yelled at God again, giving voice to my wounded heart. What eventually came out was this:

“You abandoned me!” I said to him, tears streaming down my face, ashamed of what I’d just admitted, but relieved that I’d finally said it. “I wanted to hear you, and I couldn’t. I wanted to feel you, but all I could do was imagine it. Why didn’t you speak?”

He didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to yet.

“But you were saying something, weren’t you? I could tell, but didn’t hear anything because you weren’t saying what I wanted you to say. So, what was really going on? I don’t want to serve a god who would abandon me, but I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

It took me a bit to let go of all my expectations, of all my ideas of the things I thought God “should” say but, when I did, I heard him clear as day. His voice was quiet, gentle, strong. Exactly as it had been a decade prior while I raged at him during my depression.

“I’m with you. Please don’t hurt yourself.”

In that moment, after a decade of believing that God had abandoned me, I let go of the past entirely so that I could step forward and embrace him.

And the next evening?

I started writing.

Dagný’s story is my story. Sure, she faces the undead and rides on the backs of the winds to save a talking polar bear but, underneath that all, hers is the story of a girl who thought she had been abandoned by God, and what happens in the end.

Here’s what the story idea became by this point:

“A girl travels to save a polar bear from the same kind of undead he delivered her family from, helped by God, who she blames for her brother’s death.”

Stay tuned for tomorrow, September 16th, aka Launch Day, as I talk a bit about the writing process, and as we launch this paperback into the world.

It’s about time.

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