I’ll never forget the first time this happened to me. I was writing my first novel, and had decided to use three main characters in order to properly and effectively show three very different perspectives. The third character was actually an afterthought, to fill in events and points of view that would otherwise be lost, but I only planned to use him to introduce these ideas, and then he would “go away.”
But Paul Gregorovich Tekanin would not be put out. He insisted on staying. I couldn’t write him out or kill him off without seriously harming the plot. He stuck around for the entire three-book series, becoming one of the characters that changed the most and proved a true friend. I still grieve that I had to leave him in Russia when the others emigrated.
Sometimes there are people in our lives that we don’t know well. They show up but we don’t plan to get involved with them. But for reasons outside ourselves—read: God sees the big picture and knows what and who we need—they don’t leave. In fact, they become our closest friends. They love us and support us when others we thought we could trust disappear.
I’m thankful for the friends who become “closer than a brother,” who stick by us through life’s ups and downs, who prove themselves to be worthy of the title, friend. Sometimes they are real “characters,” but that’s what makes life bearable.