Back propped up against pillows, my son’s plastic clipboard in my lap, I play chicken with the past. It’s 11 pm, the night before I am supposed to share my story, face to face, with dear friends. I write out the moments quickly, convicted, determined to not be scared.
I know this place. I know how to search and not have answers and be surprised by Him coming and bringing light to what, on my own, I could never see. As a girl-woman who has been broken and who needs to be broken again, to be made whole, I practice studying my life. I practice not having answers. I practice being okay with surrender. I practice desperation to let God in.
I grasp pages scanned from Don Miller’s Storyline–chapter one, “A Character that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it”. Yes, I am a character in His story. I am a character loved. I am a character fighting for acceptance and security and approval when this victory, my heart in His, has already been won.
I write them out, what Don Miller calls “Life Turns”, one after another. Each turn, a moment that changed me forever. I document the turns with the spaghetti scrawl my English teacher loathed. Positive life turns are noted with a number, 1 through 10, depending on the degree of positive or negative impact on my life.
27 Life Turns.
11 of them positive.
16 of them negative. The negative might be the most beautiful. Each of the negative turns He has the power to redeem.
I sit next to my friend at lunch after I tell my story to the group, the friend who has walked with me, beside me, when His healing dragged me to my knees, less than ten years ago. She tells me the beauty of telling story–of the honor and privilege of saying aloud the places where God has been–where we’ve seen Him–and how the telling brings light and encouragement to our hearts. For each of us will never be fully healed, she says. Not all of our stories will reach full redemption, until our time on earth is completed. And we need to keep pointing each other to the beauty He brings. The beauty in the moment of living, whether the moment is of the past and the things we cannot change, or the moment is of the present and we get to experience Him, right now.
Whether we are looking at the story of our past or the story of our present or the story of our future still being written, we are being asked by our God, our Healer, our Maker, if He can be invited in.
For the story is not completed. Even the things in the past, where we are filled with so much regret and sadness we feel we can barely stand let alone breathe, He comes to rewrite them, girls. He is not done with us. He is not finished writing. Because He has come to claim His signature on the pages of our lives, He asks us if He may show us the edits He’s made, the true marks of beauty of story, the pages He longingly wants us to see.
Oh, girl, are you willing to let Him in? Are you willing to hold up the moments of pain in the past and the moments of pain in the present and ask Him to bring redemption to things that seem just too impossible for light to be redeem? Do you believe your story is too dark, too ugly, too flawed, for redemption? What are you willing to do to let Him show you the beauty in the story, no matter how dark, that He sees?
Paul and Timothy write,
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it (Philippians 3:12-16, MSG).
Let’s keep going. Let’s let Him show us our story within His larger one. Let’s surrender, even, a little more. Let’s let Him fully in.
I don’t know why I have one story and you have another. I don’t know why I am in this particular place, with this particular life situation, with a past that is full of mistakes and a present that is even more desperate for God than before. But I know this: I am made, a character in a larger plot line, with a story still being played out, and with plenty of mistakes and redemption left to come.
And I need to remember I am made. And I need to remember my story, no matter the dark twists of plot, has a theme overarching that is good. God makes what is good. God makes what is beautiful. God makes what is full of promise and what is filled with hope and joy and light. There is promise here, for us, yet.
There is a story He dares you, with eyes full of love for you, to let Him show you and fully see.
Have you asked God to show you your story, through His eyes? Have you shared it aloud, within a trusted space? How can I pray for you?