Did you know that one of the hardest parts of writing a blog is coming up with the title?
Now, maybe I’m approaching it all the wrong way. Most bloggers probably write their content and then find a title that draws from their content. But I’m not like that. I like to know exactly what I’m getting into before I write, so I can figure out how to adequately cover what I’m promising you’ll find when you suddenly find yourself roaming around my corner of the Internet.
Not so with life.
We don’t get to choose our stories. We don’t get a neat little slip of paper from the heavens above, telling us what our life’s headline is going to be. Gosh, wouldn’t it be neat if we just got our plans handed to us, and could respond to them accordingly? Think about it:
“You’ll Pass the Bar Eventually When You Stop Watching Netflix and Pick Up A Book”.
“Don’t Waste Your Time With The Cute Boy in Seventh Grade”.
But no. Things just happen. Sometimes they happen so fast that we can’t even make sense of our story, much less figure out how we will respond to it. People ask us how we’re doing and we can’t even begin to find the words. We don’t know if this chapter in our life is the exception or the norm. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to accept that. It’s hard to swallow the fact that we don’t get to live our lives knowing that there will be an end to our struggles, or if there are more on the horizon, or if any of this mess is even worth it.
Going on hiatus for two weeks brought me to the same struggle that I found myself dealing with this Wednesday morning. What do I make of the things that have happened to me over the past three months? How do I move on and live life with all of these unexpected events being thrown into my mix? Is this the end of the stormy chapters or the beginning? What do I call my story?
When I was home, I avoided most contact with humanity (surprisingly, I found out it wasn’t that hard living without Instagram or Facebook). However, I did get a chance to be with my family. Although I didn’t really delve deep into a lot of the things going on, I did get a chance to talk to my brother John for a bit.
For those of you who don’t know, my brother is my hero. In 2010 he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, suffered immense pain in the hospital for four months, and has done battle with an internal monster that threatened to destroy his ability to walk, eat, or be “normal.” But it never touched his soul. I watched my barely-teenage brother face pain that would make even the strongest of us want to curse God and die. But he never complained. He made it through and even though there were some small issues, we thought we were home free.
A few months ago, John started having problems again. I was enraged by the thought that he would once again have to endure this immense suffering. I was at the point of giving up in my own life—how could John possibly want to keep going? But he did. When we were home, he calmly caught me up to speed on everything that was happening. He said:
“Jeanette, I know you’ve been going through some stuff too. But something I learned is that there is always an end to everything. How it ends is up to us.”
Who said that you couldn’t learn something from your little brother?
We don’t get our life plans handed to us. We don’t get a map to follow or some giant neon signs telling us which path to take. We don’t even get to control how much bad or good happens to us. But we do have that final satisfaction of writing the title across the top of our lives. We can take the bad bits of our story and label our lives a tragedy. We can take what others have done to us and explain our life away as a consequence of other’s mistakes. Or we can take the good with the bad. We can accept the blessings with the curses. We can label our story as lifelong peace within a lifetime of struggles.
There will be an end to the demons that I currently face. I can either let them end me or end their control over me. I’m hoping for the latter, and taking comfort in the fact that we have a final Author who will let me ask all the questions that I never got answered in this life. But for now, I’m going to embrace this story. I’m going to stop wishing that I could tear out certain pages or have a new one altogether. I am going to thank God for this life, and thank Him that I have the opportunity to flesh out the events that happen with my own perspective, one that I’m hoping is of humility and trust.
Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good. Here’s to having the courage to write a happy ending even when life looks far from it.
(Author’s Note, aka trying to sound fancy and professional: Thank you to everyone who has been there for me over the past few months, and especially the last two weeks when I was on hiatus. Your texts, letters, Facebook messages and phone calls have meant the world to me. I know that God has heard every prayer that’s been sent up my way, because I returned to Nashville covered in love and centered in an inner peace that everything is going to be okay. I’m thankful to be back, and so thankful for you.)