The Hero of the Story

He had not minded the peculiarities of his birth, the vicissitudes of his life, the meteor-like uncertainty of all that related to him, because these appertained to the hero of his story, without whom there would have been no story at all; and it seemed to be only in the nature of things that matters would right themselves at some distant date and wind up well for him.

Far from the Madding Crowd p. 277

Troy believed himself the hero of his story, and heroes always win the day in the end—at least in his mind. All the ups and downs were just obstacles the hero would eventually overcome. And so up to this point, Troy has no need to develop character: the “vicissitudes” are just early chapters; there would be time enough to emerge as the hero before the final page is turned. 

But what if Troy (what if all of us?) recognized that his story is not a unique story of which he’s the hero? What if he knew there is a grand story of which he is just one character? Instead of assuming he’s the hero and all will work out, could he not recognize himself as holding a part that might not turn out well depending on his choices? When one is so self-focused—especially as the main character—it’s hard to see the damage inflicted on those other bit characters that make up our early chapters. They are, as it were, expendable. 

What kind of character are you in? As N.D. Wilson talks about this idea, he asks whether we would actually like our character if we read him or her in a story. We all must kill this hero complex in ourselves before it gets killed or before we do damage to the other characters in the story we’re involved in. How? We need to recognize that we are part of a greater story where the hero is not us. Who is that hero? Is it not Christ: the crucified and risen Lord of all? 

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