In the Middle

Today I’m going to go out on a limb and say something that often gets left unsaid.

Life sucks sometimes.

And I’m not saying that to be pessimistic or garner your pity. No, I’m saying that because I’m in a hard season of life right now, and I’m done pretending to be ok because I know that some of you reading this are also in a hard season of life, and you probably need someone to gently remind you that it’s ok to not be ok.

Have you ever noticed that people are reluctant to share a story unless they know how it ends? They say “I dealt with depression for four months, but I went to counseling and I’m better now,” or “we knew that God was calling us to move to a different state, and we didn’t yet have a house or know a soul, but now that we’re settled in, we can totally see God’s provision in this move.”

Don’t get me wrong, stories like these are incredible testaments of God’s faithfulness and absolutely should be shared! But what about the stories that don’t yet have neat or tidy endings? And what about the ones that may never have a resolution on this side of heaven?

The danger in only telling our glossy, polished stories is that when our story isn’t pretty, we feel like we’re the only ones not living in a fairytale.

When I only hear the completed stories, my sense of aloneness even extends to what I read in the Bible. I begin to see David, and Paul, and Noah’s stories as flawless, forgetting that they lived messy, imperfect lives. I forget that Abraham, a man known for his faith, doubted God’s promise of children, and even slept with his wife’s servant to produce an heir and regain control of his story.

Here’s what I like to imagine. Abraham has been given a promise from God that he will have descendants too numerous to count, but as the days of waiting for the fulfillment of this promise turn into weeks, months, years, Abraham has mornings when he wakes up and says, “No, God, I can’t. What’s the point in believing in your promises when my daily reality doesn’t match what you’ve told me? Can I just be a bear today and hibernate until this is all over?”

Ok, maybe the bear part is more how I think than how Abraham would’ve thought, but I’m sure Abraham had days of doubt, confusion, frustration, even despair.

And that’s ok.

God does not call us to pursue perfection. He knows we can never be perfect, because if we were, we’d be God. But while God does not call us to be perfect, He calls us to be brave.

So here’s my challenge to you today – step out in courage and share your unfinished story with a trusted friend.

It takes bravery to look at your life and admit that “what now?” lies much closer to the surface than “happily ever after.” But who knows – maybe your brave act of vulnerability will grant someone else the permission they need to be raw and honest about the unresolved stories in their life.

And maybe, just maybe, by sharing from the middle of the story instead of only from the end, you’ll find some freedom to live your life as it is, instead of how you think it should be.

 

Mary

She was an ordinary young woman, following the life she was supposed to live to a T. Grow up learning how to be a wife and mother – check! Get engaged to a righteous man – check! The only thing left was to marry this man and secure her future. But then something happened that broke her life from its prescribed mold.

annunciation                             The Annunciation by Henry Tanner

God stepped in to Mary’s world and changed the nature of life, not just for her, but for every person who would ever walk the earth. In her youthfulness and normalcy, God chose her to give birth to His son.

So often the focus is placed on what the angel revealed to Mary, and that is not to be minimized. To bear the Son of God, Mary would have to endure the shame and ridicule of unmarried pregnancy. To bring him into the world, she would have to travel to a distant city and give birth to him in a stable.

Even this though, was just the beginning.

On that silent night in Bethlehem, as Mary tenderly held her firstborn son, she could have never known what lay ahead.

Raising the Son of God would often be frustrating (Luke 2:41-50) and sometimes downright dangerous (Matthew 2:13-16). Mary and Joseph were commonplace people, but Jesus was anything but your average boy. Parenting him would have been unlike any other parenting experience. And the worst part of Mary’s reality was that, unbeknownst to her, she was preparing a sheep for the slaughter. At the end of her son’s earthly life, she would have to watch him suffer and die for the sins of the world.

Throughout her life, Mary’s trust, compassion, love, and courage would be tested and tried, pushed to the breaking point.

And yet, when asked to bear God’s son, Mary said yes. Through the fear and apprehension she said, “I am the Lord’s servant,” and with those words, an ordinary woman became the mother of God.

What does God want to do with your ordinary life?

Will you say yes when He calls you to do the impossible?

You never know what significance your obedience could have to future generations.

You’re My King and I’m Your Lionheart

This song has been a favorite of mine ever since I stumbled across it last fall. I love the way Of Monsters and Men sound, but their lyrics are often quite nonsensical. Take, for example, their song “Dirty Paws.”

“Jumping up and down the floor,
My head is an animal.
And once there was an animal,
It had a son that mowed the lawn.
The son was an ok guy,
They had a pet dragonfly.
The dragonfly it ran away,
But it came back with a story to say.”

Really? If anyone can make sense of these lyrics, let me know. However, the lyrics to “King and Lionheart” ring clear and true to me.

Until tonight, I had always viewed this song from the perspective of a woman singing to her lover. She’s saying, you’re a king, so you’re strong and powerful, and I’m a lionheart, so I’m bold and courageous. It’s an anthem of the idea that together, we can do anything!

Tonight, however, I heard this song differently than I ever had before. I was lying on my bedroom floor, worrying. At the moment, life is just a tad bit scary. Yesterday, I moved home from college for the summer. This means readjusting to life at home, saying goodbye to dear friends, and testing if I’ve truly internalized the myriad of lessons I learned this year. Not to mention that I’m trying to work out a summer job, and I’m a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding in six days. Oh, and did I mention that I leave for Romania and Moldova in ten days? So as I was saying, life’s just a wee bit terrifying.

As I was lying on the floor listening to this song, however, it struck me that while this song could be a girl singing to a boy, it could just as easily be me singing to God. He’s the King, and He calls me to be His lionhearted disciple.

When I see the song in that light, I find it even more encouraging.

“Howling ghosts – they reappear                                                                                           In mountains that are stacked with fear”                                                                           (King and Lionheart)                                                                                                              “In this world you will have trouble”                                                                                  (John 16:33)                                                                                                                        “But you’re a king and I’m a lionheart.”                                                                            (King and Lionheart)                                                                                                           “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”                                                                  (John 16:33)

This world is scary, but God is bigger than my fears. That’s the “He’s the King” part of the song. It’s a message I can never hear enough, and fortunately, I do hear this message often. A message I don’t hear often enough though is the lionheart part of the song. I am bigger than my fears! So I can move forward in courage, knowing not only whose I am, but who I am. I am a lionheart!

551e8f2319e4ae4827b275df9afda887