By Kathleen Denly
In 2017, my husband and I adopted a beautiful, miraculous little girl from China that—despite her young age—taught me a lot about perspective. According to her paperwork, she should have had spastic dyplegic cerebral palsy in addition to a large number of scars from a traumatic event she’d endured as an infant. Our understanding was that she may require a wheelchair. Our hope was that someday she’d learn to walk—possibly without a walker—though we expected her gait would not be normal even in the best case scenario. When we brought her home, medical tests revealed her only health issues were severe malnutrition and those scars. If we’d expected a healthy, average child, severe malnutrition and severe, extensive scarring might have sounded like a big deal. But because of what we’d expected, our perspective was altered. To our minds, we’d unexpectedly adopted a healthy child.
Today our daughter is a happy little girl with proper weight and nutrition who runs and jumps and climbs alongside her three older brothers. But she still has those scars.
As a historical romance author, her history got me to thinking about what life would have been like for her if she’d been born in the nineteenth century. How were people with visible differences treated during that time?
I did a little research and was horrified by what I learned. It turns out that in nineteenth century America many people were ostracized, attacked, and even locked away in asylums for physical differences they had no control over and were often born with. Society feared what it did not understand. It worked to drive it away. It wanted to hide it from view. Sadly, there are still lingering hints of this “otherness” fear visible in today’s society.
Thinking of my daughter’s future and what she might face, I was inspired to write a novel in which the heroine learns to rely on God to overcome society’s negative responses to her appearance. Though I know not everyone has such scars, many of us have something in our appearance that makes us stand out or makes us self-conscious. There are things about us that we may not believe fit within the popular opinion of what’s “beautiful.” So it is my hope this story will touch each of my readers in some way, and remind them to view their self worth and beauty from God’s perspective.
Though my heroine’s scars don’t change, her perspective of them does. In turn, this affects her feelings of self worth, her relationship with God, and even her relationship with her family. Over the course of the story, I use point of view to control the reader’s perspective of certain characters. I want my reader to experience that while two people can be part of the same conversation, their unique perspectives may lead them to each experience it in a different way. This can change what they think was communicated and altar the very nature of their relationship.
Perspective is a funny thing. It can completely change what you think you’re looking at. It can change your mood. It can even change your world view. Right now much of our world is experiencing major shifts in perspective—on viruses, life goals, and even racism. What I’m praying is that these shifts will lead to a stronger leaning on God and the ability to view others and our world from His perspective. As writers we can help achieve this by using carefully considered words to share God’s perspective.Perspective is a funny thing. It can completely change what you think you’re looking at. It can change your mood. It can even change your world view. @KathleenDenly #ACFWBlogs #writetips #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Kathleen Denly writes historical romance stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at kathleendenly.com.