today, i read ABC board book and peek-a-who eight times aloud…each. the twins are in this new phase where they like to read the same books over, and over, and over. so i’ll finish one, lay it on the ground, and wait…and slowly ben will grab it and throw it into my lap again, saying, “bah!” as he shoves it into my hands. and i turn the familiar pages again. in fact, the pages on the john deere tractor book have been turned so many times that they are beginning to fall off.
there’s no surprises as i turn the pages, no excitement for me–i know that gossie’s boots have been stolen by gertie, and that they will share the bright red boots as they go for walks. i know eventually the gang will invite the hippopotamus to come and join them. in fact, i also know the entire snuggle puppy song by heart.
it could be easy to get irritated with the twins, but i have to think about my own life. from my early ages, there were stories i loved and treasured. in fact, i tried to convince my granny i had learned to read by memorizing the words of the cat in the hat. as a fourth-grader, i fell in love with louisa may alcott, and the little women, and i wished each of them were my sisters. i still teared up when beth died, i still swooned when laurie confessed his love for jo, there in the woods, and my heart warmed underneath the umbrella when the professor returned. no matter how many times i read that book, and even if i knew what was coming next–it was beautiful.
it was the same for countless other books and movies–the harry potter series, beach music, and even the show “gilmore girls.” even today i will choose to watch a movie or show i’ve seen before, over something new. i take comfort in reading books that are familiar, with plots i know. why is it?
i have a fascination with words. i love them. drummers might listen to the beat of a song, but i listen to the lyrics, the flow of the words. words are my instrument. sometimes when i write, i feel as if i am doing it without thinking. it feels almost as natural as breathing often.
i get caught up in the beauty of a tale–whether it’s in a song, or on a movie, or in a book, or even a television show. and i love it so much…because it’s familiar. because i know what will happen. i can watch alex reject gigi in he’s just not that into you because i know in thirty minutes he’ll be pining for her, and show up at her apartment to sweep her off of her feet. i can read little women with joy and know that father will come home, the war will end, and though everything will change–laurie will indeed become one of the marches. i love a story.
maybe part of the problem in my life right now is that i want, more than anything, to write my own story. more than that, i want to race ahead, flip through the pages, speed read–do anything–to figure out the ending. how’s this all going to turn out? what am i going to be? where am i going to be? who will i be with? what’s going to change? how’s this going to end up, and will i be okay with it? these are questions i ask myself about every protagonist in every movie and book unseen and unread…and these are also the questions i want to know. i want the answers. i’d be much more comfortable reading the story of my life if i had that same certainty in the face of adversity that i carry in little women, that same determination that, because i have the read the story and i know the ending, everything is going to be all right, even if the actions and thoughts of the characters don’t point to that conclusion. i’m the reader and i’ve read this story, and i know something they don’t know.
i’m not the reader of my story. i’m a character. i haven’t gotten to the end yet. it’s a page turner. some chapters i wish away before i’m halfway through them. there are other chapters that i don’t want to end. it’s easy to get boggled down in the details and the intricacies of my my own life. i forget that there is a bigger Story. that it’s not all about me. that even though i might not know specifically what happens in the coming chapters of my story, there’s another Story that has already been written, and it’s written by the same person who wrote my story. this Story redeems all stories, and my story is only a small speck, only a small part, only a glimmer of this larger Story. what happens in my story matters very little when i think about the end of this Story, which is the forever and end of my story–gathered around a throne, worshipping the One who wrote all things and created all beings and who has a marvelous plan, and whose plan included redeeming my story. i still wonder. i still hope. sometimes, i’m still afraid. but there’s great comfort in knowing that the Author is precise, and perfect, and meticulous, and that His ways are much higher than the ways of His character (me).