Caroline Forbes is not your ordinary heroine. Her friend Matt calls her neurotic and insecure. And when you first meet her on the television show The Vampire Diaries, you just might agree with him. She first seems to be a typical high school cheerleader: empty-headed, interested in dating cute boys, and a tad bit jealous of her friend Elena. But the truth is she’s much more complicated than that and what happens to her is a powerful reminder of our human frailties and our constant need to fight our basic sinful natures.

The central focus of the series is the Salvatore boys, vampires as different as night and day. Stefan does not feed on humans, while Damon leaves a string of bodies in his wake. Stefan is devoted to compassion; Damon will do anything to make his brother’s life hell. Stefan denies all his natural evil instincts while Damon allows them to thrive. Alas, it is Damon that Caroline becomes involved with. Using compulsion to control her, Damon is at times sweet to her and at times cruel to her, feeding off her but also reminding her how worthless and stupid she is. If not for Stefan stepping in on two separate occasions, he would have killed her.

One of the most obvious faults in Caroline is her insecurities. Because she is beautiful, she is not taken very seriously. She puts on a happy face but is merely covering up her fear that she is not smart enough or special enough to merit true love. Damon attracts her because he is handsome and smiles at her from across a room. Her desire to be strong is frequently put aside by her inability to stand up for herself. This gets her into messes but changes as time goes by and she emerges as the true Caroline; the person she is meant to be but who has been held back through fear and self-loathing. Her life changes the most when she is turned into a vampire. This gives her the courage to confront Damon and also makes her brave enough to intervene for her friends in very dangerous situations.

Inexperienced and prone to heightened instincts, she is distraught after killing someone. Damon intends to put a stake in her heart but Elena stops him and Stefan becomes her protector and mentor. He explains that she will never stop wanting blood and cannot change back to a human, but she can learn to control herself so she will not hurt others. This is a struggle Stefan has lived with for a long time; it involves self-discipline and compassion for other people, something he is very good at. And, as it turns out, Caroline is good at it, too. Her struggle coincides with Tylar learning he is a werewolf. Suddenly, he has no one to talk to except Caroline. Her willingness to help him in spite of knowing his bite could kill her shows her true nature as someone who is genuinely selfless. Stefan’s kindness to her is repeated in her own kindness to Tyler, who doesn’t always want her help and at times pushes her aside. But he needs her and she keeps his secret to save his life.

Some might see this as a mindless vampire series, but it reminds me of the struggle we face between our basic desire for sin and our wish to be more like Christ. Vampires are creatures separated from God. In our fallen state, we too face separation from God. Vampires cannot save themselves; neither can we. Vampires are inclined toward cruelty; so are we. Like the characters in this series, we have a choice: to indulge our base instincts or admit that while we can never escape what we are (sinners), we can learn to control it. If you choose to look at the series from a symbolic point of view, for much of the first season, Damon represents evil. His treatment of Caroline is a lot like how sin treats us, by giving us pleasure (that is not really all that great) for a time and then abusing us with lies about how sick and worthless we are. Like us, Caroline cannot escape evil on her own—she needs intervention. Her change into a vampire causes her to realize how fallen she is, and how much she needs help, which is a lot like a new believer struggling in a world that wants them to fail. Left alone, we cannot become better. We need a stronger, more experienced Christian who has similarly struggled to reach out and take our hand. Stefan has been through her struggles and knows there is hope; he is the mentor she needs most in her darkest hour. He can encourage her, help her control her urges, hold her accountable and teach her how to be strong. And she can turn around and share that strength with Tyler when he needs her.

The most important thing we can learn from this is we are weakest when alone in our walk in faith. On her own, even with her newfound vampire skills Caroline is vulnerable. It is only when the others are with her that she is truly safe. Stefan gives her the confidence she needs in order to be part of a much bigger story and have an influence on Tyler for the better.

Like Caroline, we cannot escape our sinful nature and every day is a struggle to remain true to our faith. Sin is natural to us, but Damon proves a life given into it only causes deep unhappiness. His actions toward her are unforgivable but even he is not above redemption; his desire to win over Elena changes him also.

No one in this series is perfect and each one is on a journey, but it is Caroline who stood out to me both in her fears and insecurities and in her transformation from being insecure to willing to risk her life to save her friends. Salvation and mentorship changes all of us, and for Caroline it changed everything. ♥