One guy from our church claimed to have been bipolar until he prayed for deliverance. And while I didn’t doubt his story, it was his assertion that she just wasn’t praying hard enough for healing that made me want to sock him. A hospital chaplain flat-out blamed her, saying her walk with the Lord wasn’t strong enough. And there were people who said she just had to get over it, stop dwelling on it, or push through it, as though she was just being lazy, as though she didn’t agonize over this new reality and would have done anything to change it.
Fast forward ten years: I’m a novelist now, with the ability to do just that, and so I’ve written Composing Amelia. But, as I experienced with Reinventing Rachel, my plans for the book and God’s plans for the book were not the same. And since God always wins in the end, Composing Amelia is not the book about bipolar that I expected it to be.
At first I was frustrated: the Christian community desperately needs some help in this area, and I really wanted to be a part of bringing understanding to that community. But the more I think about it, the more fitting it is to me that Composing Amelia is about so many other things, and not just the issue of mental illness as it was in my first drafts, because people with bipolar disorder are not defined by their illness, nor is it the only thing they will struggle with in their lives.
I do tend to get a little starry-eyed at the thought of my books having an impact on people—the impact I want them to have. But as an author who writes for Christ, I need to remember that I am just the messenger. My job is to tell that message as skillfully as I can—not to decide what the message should be. I fought with Reinventing Rachel for the same reason, but apparently it takes me a while to learn my lesson. I think I’ve got it now, though.