There’s truth in fiction. Sometimes more than we want to admit. But it’s a safe way to learn and experience truth about ourselves, our struggles, and our faith. Nonfiction gives it to the reader straight, a great approach to subjects and themes relating to the human soul. Still, confronting a subject head-on is something we don’t like, especially if it’s unpleasant or downright horrible truths about ourselves.
Enter fiction. We step back and watch someone who’s more real than our next door neighbor and recognize bits and pieces of our own heart in action. We see ourselves from a safe distance.
Cancer, loss of job, car accidents. What good can come of the trials and troubles beating our already weary bodies back into the dirt from which we came? In the midst of crisis, a direct message or true to life story draws too real of a comparison with our own situation. The pain deepens with the continual burn of “why?”
Enter fiction. The more realistic, the better, yet it still lets us hold the pages away from our wounds while applying a salve we didn’t know it contained. We evaluate our agony from a safe distance.
What of faith—or lack of? Who is God? What’s His place or power in your life? How can He restore a heart as broken and reeking of garbage as ours? Why so many questions? Do I really want to know the answers?
Enter fiction. Hiding behind the words of a make believe world, we peek out at the interactions between a Father and child. We watch and wonder. We may even pray, because our questions about God were asked and answered from a safe distance.
When we see things from a distance, it suddenly feels safe to take a closer look at ourselves, our troubles, our God. All through the safety of fiction woven in the fabric of truth. That’s the power of a novel, and why the novel matters.
Why do novels matter to you? I'd love to chat about it in the comments.