I’ve been tasked with a…well a task. I have two weeks to come up with my story, or whatever story I’m supposed to tell to my group. To be fair, this was partially my idea, so I have no one to blame but myself.
We’re reading Remember God by Annie F. Downs. And I kind of understand the part in the intro where she says she doesn’t know where the story is going and if we all make it out ok. Ya. Me too.
Every time I sit down to think about “my story” it’s the same one that comes out. But it’s not a safe story. It’s not a story where I look like a model Christian. It’s not a story where I can say God took my through it to amazingness on the other side. I can’t say that because I’m not on the other side of it. I’m still in it. When I think I get close, the road shifts and I realize it’s winding away from the end all over again. And I have failed in this story several times.
This verse, Romans 5:3-5, I love…and I hate. I mean rejoicing in sufferings is hard y’all. I get mad in sufferings; that’s easy. Anger has always been my go to emotion when I’m trying to dodge any of the other ones. The funny thing about anger, at least for me, is I cry when I get angry. And then I cry harder cuz I’m angry that I’m crying. So using anger to avoid tears is a faulty path, but I digress. Actually saying “thank you for suffering”? I don’t know if I can do that.
Suffering produces endurance. I get that, but it can go one of two ways. I can endure…or I can give up. I’m battle weary right now. I’m tired. I’d kind of rather give up lately. But yet I want to see this through to the end. I want to see if the thing really comes out okay. I want to know if God really does use me. I want to know how God wants to end my story. And so endurance produces character, the grit and will to hang on brings about all the fight and molds you.
Character produces hope? Hope for what? Hope that it will end? Hope that we come out of the story okay? I might hope for both of those things.
I struggle with the story. Looking at it I can see where I went wrong but I can see where I think He maybe could have done better by me. But I know deep down whatever the story, He does know what’s best. I just don’t always like it.
I think I’m somewhere stuck in the middle of this passage. I’m not sure if I’ve found endurance or character, but I know hope is sometimes in short supply.
So how do I tell that story? How do I let them see that this perfectionist isn’t anywhere near perfect? How do I admit that I don’t always trust God? How do I admit that the times I fully trust God I can probably count on one hand?
When I first started coming to this group, I wanted them to like me. And I was terrified. I was scared that if they saw how broken, how imperfect I was, that they wouldn’t like me. But you know what? That mask had cracked too many times now, and they’re still here. They haven’t kicked me out yet. So that’s probably a good sign.
And so I think I do tell the story, ugly parts and all, the story that God wants to tell. The story where I don’t come out looking like a model Christian. Or maybe I do? Maybe a “model Christian” isn’t a Christian who has it all together and figured it out. Maybe it’s someone who struggles and works through the thing and searches and finds and talks to God like He’s right here. Maybe it’s someone who tells God exactly what she thinks even when it’s not nice and even when it is. Maybe it’s someone who feels a little like God broke her trust but is willing to work to get it back so many years later.
Maybe it’s okay to show that person. Maybe I need to show that person. Not to be broken all the time because I’m tired of showing that person, but to admit that I struggle, to admit that I fall short, to admit that I’m working through the things.
I want to give you hope cuz I see it glimmer through every once in a while. And I know even when it’s hard to see, it’s still there somewhere. And I feel like we do make it out okay in the end. I mean I hope we do. The story goes on because I’m not finished, God’s not finished. Through the hard, through the good, through all the ways this life is not turning out how I wanted it to. Through all the heartbreak and all the longings for something I may never have. Through shattered dreams and broken goals. Through heartache and emptiness. Through all the rays of hope, He still pursues me. He still loves me. And He’s still good, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Even when everything’s changing. Even when it looks like everyone around you has it all figured out and is receiving the blessings you’d hoped for, God is still kind. He’s still good.
And maybe I’m not the only one who needs to see that someone is struggling. Maybe everyone is in some way. Maybe someone else is trying to let go of how they thought their life would turn out. Maybe they need to see they aren’t alone. Maybe the story needs to be told. Maybe they’ll love me for it, in spite of it, through it.
And we’ll figure it out somehow.