The Truth That's Stranger Than Fiction


I bought a fiction book last week. 

I know that might not sound like a particularly earth-shattering event to you, but it was kind of a landmark moment for me. Because I haven't read a fiction book for a couple of decades.

I loved to read fiction. For years it was my favorite genre. I'd leave the library with my arms full, juggling a stack of beautiful stories that ignited my imagination. 

But I stopped reading fiction. 

Too many years ago to even remember, I listened to a boyfriend tell me he thought I lived in a fantasy world because all I read was fiction. I suppose he had a point, because without ever packing my suitcase or leaving home, fiction took me on all sorts of adventures. 



As a young girl, I felt as if I spent long summers at Green Gables and Avonlea where Anne lived. I solved mysteries with Nancy Drew. I met Marmee and her four little women. And I rode along in a covered wagon out on the prairie with Laura Ingalls and her fiddle-playing Pa. 

But what I loved most about the Little House books was that Laura was a real person. So I thought maybe switching to non-fiction wasn’t such a bad idea and I started to read biographies. 

But a little piece of my heart missed the way a brilliant fiction writer could spin a magnificent tale.



Then I recently read a writer who said she doesn’t understand writers who don’t read fiction because fiction can help us tell our own stories. 

While I was still pondering this, I watched an interview with author Courtney Walsh as she shared her life’s twists and turns as part of Jeanne Oliver’s Becoming series. Her words made me catch my breath as she shared how God brought beauty from her broken dreams. 

When she said her new novel Paper Hearts held pieces of her own story, I knew it was time to lift my fiction embargo. 

And then I realized that I’d just demolished yet another outdated perception of myself that I’d been holding onto all these years. 

It felt as if another little piece of my heart gained freedom.



Sometimes I wonder if I’m really trusting God to write the story of my life.

I dream up the setting and the plot-line and the characters. I plan my life and depict it on story boards, hoping it plays out like a bestselling novel. 

But I’ve found that I can’t make my life read like compelling fiction, no matter how hard I try. 

So I search out the stories of others to help me understand my own story. 

I want to hear stories of faith to inspire me. 

I want to read about those who discovered God's presence in their lives as they waited on him to fulfill their deepest desires, in ways only he can do.



But instead of finding a formula I can follow to have my story arrive at happily-ever-after, I’m realizing that our lives intentionally intersect with the stories of others, and our stories are authored by God. 

Sometimes we read along, watching a life story unfold from the periphery and sometimes we are among the cast of characters.

Sometimes there are those who need to hear our stories but aren’t yet in the place to receive it. 

So we wait, even though we might not be sure why we're waiting. 

We wait for God to move them. And us. 

But this waiting feels too much like an ending.

I wonder if you feel the same way?



Maybe you’re waiting for a chapter of your story to unfold. 

Maybe you’re not even sure what the plot of your life story is because your narrative is dotted with so many minor and unimportant events that don’t move your story forward.

As I pray and wait and knock and seek along with you, I know that truth -- God's truth -- are the only words that will give me the life I so desire.

Those words that become written on my heart and on the pages of my life lift my eyes to see the inexplicable and mysterious ways of God that are so life-changing. 



This truth is stranger than any fiction because God's ways aren't like our ways.

This truth says that my heart will overflow with hope if I’m trusting him to direct my life's course instead of my flimsy attempts to control it. 

This truth says he will keep me in perfect peace when my thoughts are filled with his words instead of the chaos I find myself in when I encounter difficulties. 

This truth says his unfailing love surrounds me and he will bring good purposes to my life from any disheartening circumstance.

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. -Ps. 25:5



When I placed my order for Paper Hearts, Amazon so helpfully suggested another fiction book for my consideration. 

{I think it may have been shocked that I was wandering out of my usual purchasing pattern and it wanted to show me there was a brave new world for me out there.}

It felt scandalous, but I thought why not? I added it to my cart.

So I bought two fiction books in one day when I haven’t read fiction in years. 

And it occurred to me that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.



I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart and Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista. Come join us there!





Comments

  1. YES YES YES! All your beautiful words stirred a lot of the same feelings up in me. I don't really like to wait... maybe it's an only child thing?? ♥ I'm so glad you bought those fiction books! Go girl!! Now you've made me want to examine myself to see if there are lies I've been telling myself that I heard from someone else and not my SAVIOR! I'm so glad I found you and your blog dear Valerie!

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    1. Heather,
      I just cherish our friendship and your always encouraging words! I've been slowly sorting through so many things I've always believed about myself to be true and I'm surprised to find that some of them aren't. Just because someone speaks something over me, I have to determine if I believe it to be true or not -- and the only one who can help me do that is God himself -- who created some of these characteristics in me.

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  2. Valerie, I loved this post much. First of all, I've been in the same place with you about fiction. Sometimes it feels like living in fantasy and somehow reading books that help me with my spiritual growth just seem like something I should be reading all the time. The truth is, thought, that fiction books have a way of opening my eyes to a certain characteristic of God that just comes through the pages. Which is when I am reminded, time and time again, that there is no use in limiting God like I do.

    I am in a season of waiting right now, and coming to that place where I don't quite understand why circumstances and people cannot change. Where it feels like there should be something more, where I am waiting for something more but nothing seems to be changing and I can't quite even see anymore how things could change. So thank you for speaking these beautiful words of encouragement right into my heart today, Valerie.

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    1. Ronja,
      These days of walking through foggy pathways and not really knowing if there's anything more for us are so difficult but we just have to believe the one who planted our dreams and hopes in our hearts has something beautiful up ahead for us. Your words always speak to me and I'm so glad we could connect as kindreds about this! Yes, there is no use in limiting God like we do -- I am going to be pondering this thought from you all day. So grateful for you!

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  3. What a lovely weaving here today, Valerie. And I smiled deep as I saw the stack of Nancy Drew's and others sitting there all tattered and well-used.

    I love a good fiction book. I love a good book club discussion. I love the feel of binding and worn pages and the smell of library.

    I love being here, as always ...

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    1. Linda,
      Yes! I love the sound and fragrance of books and when it surrounds me I feel at home! Thanks so much for stopping by with your sweet words of encouragement!

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  4. I am interested to hear how they are!

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    1. Brittany,
      I am excited to reconnect with something that's given me joy in the past and looking at it with new eyes!

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  5. Hi Valerie- I loved reading all those books too, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables etc.! :) I have not read fiction for myself in years, and wouldn't even know where to start- sounds so nice-Maybe I will try one too- So refreshing to visit after a long day and get caught up in the beauty here in words, thoughts and photos. I love this- "know that truth -- God's truth -- are the only words that will give me the life I so desire." so good - thank you for this today- and for refeshing me :) Thankful for you!

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    1. Susie,
      Your words of grace are refreshing to my soul and mean more than you know! I love it that you're considering trying fiction on again, too, and I somehow believe we can find a little joy we were missing when we are brave enough to be redirected on our journeys! So grateful for you!

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  6. Valerie,
    I really enjoyed reading your connection between fiction stories that you love and their importance in learning how to craft your own stories. Our minds are expanded by good stories. They grab our attentions, imaginations, and hearts. :)
    I am currently in the midst of Anne of Green Gables with my girls. It always surprises me that my little seven year old and five year old get the humor of Ann and her "scope of imagination". I ate up the Nancy Drew books and shared them with my sister while I was in elementary school and I have re read them to my own girls. There's nothing like getting lost in a good book or reading one outloud to some little faces and watching the adventure play out in their eyes.
    Valerie, i had someone one piously tell me once that they didn't read fiction and snubbed me for wasting my time on it. I remember feeling like a light weight because I enjoyed it. I remember shrinking back from fiction. How ridiculous!
    I'm glad you are embracing it again. How sad that we acquiesce to the notions of other people because we think they are right when its just there personal opinion and makes us give up something we love?
    I like your idea of good fiction enhancing your own story telling. I hope you fully enjoy soaking in these good books!
    Love ya Valerie!

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    1. Summer,
      I can't imagine my childhood without the joy of the books I read and I love how you are sharing the stories of Nancy and Anne with your girls -- what a gift you are giving, helping them unlock the joy to these adventures! I truly think it's the secret to avoiding boredom and finding joy for the rest of their lives.

      I am finding a new soul-freedom in tearing down these opinions of others that I've adopted as truth and realizing that it just wasn't so! I always find joy in your words, Summer -- you have a gift of encouragement, dear friend! :)

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  7. Valerie, I am meeting you for the first time today, and it has been a pleasure. I do not share your issue with reading fiction because like you I grew with the children's classics and continued to grow in my love for various genres of fiction. I can however, relate to what you wrote about waiting. I have found that God most often reveals Himself in these periods and most of the time it is in areas of need of which I was not even aware. He is gracious that way. I look forward to reading Courtney Walsh's book and visiting with you again.

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    1. Elizabeth,
      So happy you stopped by today and appreciate your thoughts on waiting and God's graciousness through it!

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  8. I go back and forth-fiction to Christian. It works for me :)
    I love how God works all the details out in my life-I wait and try to plan, but He blows me away every time!

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    1. Sarah,
      I like it! A mix of both worlds -- I hope that will be my future recipe for reading! :)

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  9. Valerie,
    I too have not read fiction since I was a girl. I was moved to tears by what you wrote and I am so glad to hear that God has reawakened your heart to all these wonderful stories!
    Lately I have felt a real stirring in my heart for truth-infused stories. I think I'm going to have to start reading fiction again!
    Thank you for your beautiful, honest words.

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    1. Selina,
      Thank your for the encouraging words and I'm delighted you stopped by! So grateful for your visit!

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  10. I almost forgot. Sarah Clarkson has a great book about this very subject. It's called Caught Up In A Story. She also has a great website Storyformed.com that lists recommended books to read which I'm pretty sure are mostly if not all fiction.

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  11. Valerie, don't tempt me girl lol. I wish I could go meet up with you. I am such a huge reader and I can't believe I've never heard of this book. So you know what that means, I will be checking this book out ;).

    Kay of Pure & Complex
    www.purecomplex.com

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    1. Kay,
      Oh yes! I'd love it if we could read it together -- would be a great meet-up, friend! :)

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