Most of us love stories. I know when I get a chance to talk with a good friend and they start off by saying, “I have this story that I just have to tell you…” that I perk up and start really listening. Or maybe I’m the one who has a story to tell because today or yesterday or last week, something exciting happened, so I start talking faster with the joy of storytelling. Either way, a story brings with it a sense of anticipation and wonder–where we listen eagerly to hear what happens at the end of the story. Unless of course, its a three year old doing the storytelling, and the story is made up mostly of “and then” phrases, where we can never quite discern any sort of conflict or theme or resolution. We want to hear the end of the story, because there is conflict. Every good story has conflict. But what we sometimes don’t remember is that our lives are stories.
In my preparation for the school year, I have been thinking a lot about literature and stories and worldview. How do these stories, Shakespeare and Wilde and Hardy, show us different views of the world? How do we view the world? One of my favorite “worldview statements” of all time comes from J.R.R. Tolkien. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, where Frodo is doubting his ability to continue on with his mission, Samwise Gamgee says:
“I know… its all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t be here. But we are. It’s like in all the great stories—the ones that really matter, full of darkness and danger. Sometimes you don’t want them to end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was after all the bad things happened? But even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will be clear. They kept going because there is some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.”
Scripture too is full of stories that embody conflict. Try Job. Or David. Or Paul. So when you or I run and run and run and can’t find the way out of the forest, when we are lost and losing hope, and feel like we are about to drown, we need to check our worldview. Do you believe that God authors your story to be a great story, complete with the kind of gut-wrenching conflict that makes the resolution that much more glorious and inspiring? Know that you don’t stand alone in this time of loneliness or despair. You stand with great men of faith who also had their fires to walk through, but who came out as better men on the other side, scarred and bruised and broken, but with great stories. I’ve always said that scars are like tattoos with better stories. Maybe its because getting a scar typically involves more pain than a tattoo.
Sometimes, I’m not sure what to blog about because my life seems boring. When all I’m doing for two weeks is reading and planning and studying and analyzing and trying desperately to prepare for the school year, it doesn’t seem as if I have much to share with friends and family. Or, on days when nothing much is “happening,” but I’m battling thoughts of loneliness, doubt, or homesickness, it doesn’t seem like that’s worth “writing home about,” because its not fun or exciting. But at 1:45 a.m., when I finished my last set of lesson plans for the year, I realized that it’s all part of the story.