because no story is a straight line.

“no story is a straight line. the geometry of a human life is too imperfect and complex, too distorted by the laughter of time and the bewildering intricacies of fate to admit the straight line into its system of laws.”

-pat conroy, beach music

when you’re little, you think you’re going to grow up, and you’ll be whatever it is that you wanted to be, when you grew up, and that would be, well, that.

but the fact of the matter is that most grown-ups, they don’t really know what they want to be when they grow up…even though i guess, technically, they’re “grown up.”

and the fact of the matter is that people go to school for long periods of time, to get advanced degrees, and then they have no idea how they’re going to use them.  i’m not commenting on positive or negatives of this system, but just merely making an observation.

at some point, i have to remind myself that life really isn’t a check-list. because, if it is, i’m missing a lot of things. i don’t have a home that i own, or a mortgage, or a husband, or even a boyfriend, or any children, or a pet, or even a forever full-time job.  and i don’t know what i want to be, when i grow up.

but if i can take a step back, and look at the bigger picture – seeing God’s faithfulness in the many years of the advanced degree, and his providence in placing me exactly where he has placed me, as single and unattached and well, jobless, as i am – then things begin to make a little more sense.  because the Bible isn’t a checklist.  it’s a story.  a story of God’s faithfulness and goodness to his people.  and my small story gets to be a bigger part of a much grander narrative, that is so much larger than myself and my own little conceited and self-centered world.

and i’m reminded that the good part about life as a story is that it means we never know what is going to happen next.  sometimes that can mean heartache.  i’ve felt that this year.  i’ve become acquainted with what it means to grieve over things lost, to fear for family members, to mourn the death of loved ones.  life can change in an instant.

but also, life can change in an instant.  in a moment, things can turn around, to remind you – the one who was worrying and tarrying about the checklist – that it really is a story, in the end, and that you aren’t writing the story. and sometimes i need that hope, at the end of the day.   to know that every day brings something new, and the potential for something beautiful, and that regardless, God is faithful in it all.  to look back and see the beauty of what has unfolded, even in the midst of the pain, and the precision of the Author’s hand – to plot something perfect, even when it isn’t always straightforward.

and i need the story picture because i need to remember that most of life isn’t the big moments – engagements and marriages and children and jobs and buying houses and signing contracts and continuing education.  most of life is in the mundane, in the ordinary, in the everyday.  admiring the hydrangeas in the front yard. spending an afternoon writing, just because.  snuggling with your favorite three-year old and hearing him tell you that you’re his “very best friend.”  a sweet little girl’s shoulder on my head, hearing her snore and knowing that she’s just fallen asleep and feels completely safe in my arms.  having friends who really can finish your sentences and thoughts for you.  and dealing with stress, and money, and bills, and heartache, and laughing and crying and despairing and rejoicing with friends over dreams lost and hope gained.

i’m not advocating a world where we just sit around and wait for God to show up, because he calls us to faithfulness, to diligence, to obedience.  but we’re called to this each day.  in each moment, as the story unfolds.

and he never promises that the plot will straight, or the path smooth, or even trodden before. it’s not a straight line. i like reading stories i’ve already read, because i know what’s coming.

that’s not the case in my life, though – i’m not supposed to know what’s next.  i’m supposed to trust, today. to see God as faithful, today. to take steps and risks and dream, and to do it all knowing that there’s a greater story, even though it’s not always straightforward and is never a straight line.

 

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