In December, if someone mentions the word “peace,” most people immediately jump to the phrase “Peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
But how does the subject of peace relate to my upcoming Harmony Ink release The Wounded Heart?
The first book in my Grim Life series, The Grim Life, tells the tale of Kody, a suicidal college student, struggling with his sexuality and his faith in God. Max is the grim reaper sent to take Kody to heaven when Kody tries to kill himself.
Instead Max feels a deep, unexpected connection with Kody.
Max saves his life.
Well, for a short time, anyway.
Without giving too many spoilers, The Wounded Heart is the next chapter of Kody and Max's saga. The tagline “dating is tough—especially when you're dead” should tell you enough of what to expect.
So when asked to write something about peace and how it relates to this story, my first and immediate reaction was inner peace.
Or Kody's complete thereof.
The Grim Life series has a strong spiritual message, with a Christian theme that God loves each of us exactly for who we are and who we were born to be. But Kody is having a hard time believing that in his heart. His plight, while a bit more fantastic—after all, he becomes a grim reaper working for God—highlights the struggles so many young people feel today. Feelings of not being good enough, not worthy enough, or simply just not fitting in with everyone around them. Perhaps you or someone you know might relate to Kody’s lack of inner peace:
All the struggles I’d battled with while alive—anxiety, guilt, you name it—still crept around in my mind, rearing their ugly heads just when I started to feel good about my new life. I thought becoming a reaper would change me, but dying didn’t really fix anything.
It just presented new problems.
As Kody struggles on his journey to find inner peace, to believe in his own self-worth, he is not alone. Kody is blessed to be working for an angel named Slade. Slade is a bit unique as far as typical angels go, but he helps Kody learn to love himself. While Kody finds a mentor in Slade, Max and Kody have a strong romantic bond. The latter two might keep secrets from each other, which exacerbate their relationship, but ultimately by working together as a team, Kody is able to take the first steps in loving and accepting who he is.
Here’s how Slade often helps Kody with his no-nonsense yet loving advice.
“I know we haven’t had a chance to rap for a while, but I thought we decided that you were gonna focus on the good stuff. No more wallowing in your head,” Slade said, smiling. “But seems like that’s all you’ve been doing.”
I scoffed. “That’s easier said than done.”
“Well, you were always so worried about being a disappointment to God, but now you’re in great standing with Him. Hell, if He didn’t have a soft spot for you, would you be taking His children to heaven?”
“No, I guess not,” I said, trying not to smile.
Slade always made me feel better about myself, like I was valued, important. My mother’s unbending Christian rules had caused me to loathe my very existence, but on this side of life, I had learned to see things differently. I’d been given a holy assignment, the honor to do the Lord’s work, which meant God did love me for how I’d been born—a morose gay kid who loved magic tricks, superheroes, and baking.
So why was I always getting lost in my head and forgetting that?
When struggling with a lack of inner peace, depression, or anxiety, not closing oneself off from others but seeking out kind, like-minded souls can often help provide some perspective. Whether we personally or someone we love are suffering from depression and anxiety, sometimes what we seek can be found in the wisdom of a trusted friend.
Do you have time this season to offer a hearing ear to a friend who is down? Perhaps we all can remember that sometimes, by just having someone to talk to, or perhaps by being the one doing the listening, we might be able to find a bright spot of peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
Happy holidays and good health to all!
**NOTE** if you or someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts/actions, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is always open 24 hours a day 1-800-273-8255