For about a year now I’ve been walking with a dear friend through one of the hardest seasons of her life. Watching her wrestle emotions and take hold of stronger faith is both painful and encouraging at the same time.
But the other day she said something that made me stop. “My life is SO NOT what I had envisioned.”
It’s hard not to think ahead, to not envision what life will look like, isn’t it? As little girls, we dream of our wedding day. The Dress, the Guy. Our babies’ faces. The porch we’ll rock on when we’re older.
For most of us, we look forward to a Happy Ending. We have hope of a full life with family and friends, growing old with our lovers and watching our grand-kids play.
I see myself in my warm, cozy home, nestled by the fire with a good book, finally enjoying some much-earned down time. Happily-Retired-Golden-Years Living.
But what if that’s not actually what my life will look like? What if there are other plans for me, a different backdrop to that scene? How will my heart do with that?
As I think about it, over the last few years I’ve come to know more and more people whose lives aren’t lining up with their Dream.
…Women who suddenly found themselves widows. And young widows, at that.
…Retirement-age couples who’ve yet to retire–and probably won’t in this lifetime.
…Friends and family who never married.
…Couples whose dreams of a family haven’t come true.
I’ve watched people who thought they had Arrived enter the lobby to find themselves greeted by an ugly trio–Heartbreak, Grief and Loss.
What is it about the human condition that we automatically envision a happy ending? Why do we feel like there’s some unspoken guarantee that All’s Well That Ends Well?
God has not once promised us a happy ending to this life. What He has promised us is His presence and victory over the grave.
As one song puts it, “He never promised that the cross would not get heavy and the hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered victories without fighting but He said help would always come in time…Our Lord will show up and He will take you through the fire again.”
Just because I love Jesus doesn’t mean I will not face hardship.
Just because I’ve already had my fair share of life-struggles doesn’t mean I won’t be handed more.
Just because I have faith that He will make all things new doesn’t mean I won’t have to deal with the same old crap in the here and now.
I may sound like a Negative Nancy, but that’s not my goal. I just want to keep my head about me. These are the ugly, no-makeup truths that I really don’t want to look at but yet, I stare them in the face every day.
There’s something intriguing about the not-so-happy-ending, isn’t there? There must be or else Gone With The Wind would’ve been a flop.
In reality, the lives we remember, honor–celebrate–are the ones who saw the most heartache. Those are the lives with a story to tell, with a scene worth watching and learning from.
Last night I had the rare privilege of watching one such life on screen. The American Sniper, Chris Kyle, didn’t live a life of leisure or ease. He was a fighter. A hero. A Legend. And I highly doubt anyone would have envisioned the way his life would end.
As a matter of fact, today we remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a godly, honorable man but one who undoubtedly walked a difficult path.
When he was assassinated at age 39, autopsy notes say he had “the heart of a 60 year old.” Yet had he chosen a safer route, our country would be a very different place.
During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, King stated, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”
…Truth will have the final word in reality.
If I want to live in Reality, I have to tell myself the truth or else I’ll harbor unrealistic expectations–of myself, others, and God. I’ll constantly strive to Arrive only to find Disappointment waiting to drive me home.
I must have faith that while things may not turn out like I dreamed, God’s plan is better than my dream.
And though the twists and turns surprise me, they do not surprise Him. He’s already there before me, waiting to carry me through.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8
THIS is The Truth I must remember on the days I feel like a failure or the days I feel I’ve been failed.
There IS Something More for me, but it may not look like I think it should.
I need His Truth and strength and unconditional love to find the victory, to help me live this fragile, fleeting day without envisioning anything beyond it.
After all, tomorrow is another day.
My life may not play out like I think it should, but Heavenly Father, I trust You with it. I trust you to do what is right according to Your perfect will, knowing Your plans for me are for good. Give me the strength to trust You more. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” ~ James 4:1 (NIV)
“I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and be your Savior.” ~ Isaiah 46:4 (TLB)