As I sit here typing this post for Monday, it is the Friday before Thanksgiving. One of my teenage children left the house happy because the thought of a whole week off danced ahead of him like a well-deserved party. Another of my teenage children was grouchy all morning because the last day of school before a break is almost always pointless and why couldn’t he just stay home??
I have found myself wondering how their days are going because their perspectives hit incredibly close to home for me. I am always caught somewhere between these two extremes in life: thrilled that the end of something hard or tedious is arriving soon, or full of dread that the final lap of my race will require so much from me. Like my kids, I have a hard time figuring out what story I’m in sometimes; am I living a dream or am I enduring a tragedy?
To be honest, our perspectives often only last as long as the circumstances of our stories can support them. For example, if my happy kid has something horrible and tragic happen to him, like having a research project assigned over the break, he will forget his morning peppiness. And if my grouchy child found fifty bucks lying in the gutter on his way to school, he would be awfully glad he went today.
Sometimes we can be wholly surprised by how we react to what the day brings. For example, when I heard some copies of my book, Holy Guacamole, were being shipped to me, I thought for sure I would cry when it arrived. But when I lugged that heavy box in the house and opened it up, I didn’t shed a single tear. I just couldn’t stop smiling; it was a box of JOY.
Then Morgan found a typo in it and I did cry. In fact, from my new perspective, I now had a box of wretched failure on my hands. Nevermind that I had spelled over 40,000 words correctly. Never mind that one out of every five books I read has at least one print error. My misspelled word was proof I should be banned from all literary pursuits for the rest of my life.
This one word opened the floodgates of my fear about the next book I’m trying to write. How dare I attempt a book on women in leadership? I am done with the proposal and two of the chapters, but clearly, I should take all the work I’ve done to the top of a skyscraper and throw it into Lady Bird Lake while weeping and singing sweet hallelujah, I’ll fly away in its honor.
Sometimes the story in the story is the best lie the enemy wants all people to believe: You shouldn’t even bother showing up.
You spelled Loni Anderson’s name wrong. You shouldn’t even bother showing up.
It’s the last day of school. You shouldn’t even bother showing up.
Someone else could do this better. You shouldn’t even bother showing up.
You failed last time. You shouldn’t even bother showing up.
This will cost you too much time/faith/money/hope. You shouldn’t even bother showing up.
You don’t have what it takes. You shouldn’t even bother showing up.
You’re supposed to be happy in life, and if you fail, you will not be happy. You shouldn’t even bother showing up.
And yet, when I look back at my life, I am so stinking grateful for every time I’ve shown up. Every good thing in my life is the direct result of showing up for something I wasn’t sure I could pull off. Even the times I showed up and fell flat on my face have served to help me be brave enough to show up again so God could remind me that failure isn’t my destiny every time. After all, we have a God who can turn water into wine, resurrect beauty from ashes, and turn the story on its head so that all of a sudden our greatest weakness becomes His greatest glory in our life.
Wherever we are, God is. Whatever we face, He’s facing it with us. The real truth is, God is facing every enemy and obstacle in our path for us. We’re pretty much just along for the ride.
Half a box of books currently sits on a chair in my office because I gave a bunch away to amazing people. Given that every book I handed out has that wretched typo in it, is that box half full of my failure or halfway emptied of my greatest writing effort?
I have no idea.
Maybe it’s neither. Maybe, from God’s perspective, what’s in the box matters a whole lot less than the woman who lived the stories in those pages.
And maybe each one of us is the real story inside the story. Here we are, living every day of our lives inside the story that started with God creating a whole world and calling it good and then sending His Son to rescue it from every lie that ever tried to corrupt its beauty.
Maybe the story of Jesus is enough reason to show up today and slay the dragons of our grouchiness, fear, and insecurity.
Actually, scratch the maybe in that last sentence.
Just show up because Jesus always shows up for you.
Just. Show. Up.