Sometimes change is like being notified that your favorite parts of life are being discontinued. Change has brought me the best of things via the hardest roads and every time it’s a challenge to believe that what lies on the other side of the loss and discomfort is goodness.Read More »
I know I’m not alone in the sea of people whose lives are changing, whose futures are uncertain, and who are puzzling again with questions about who they are, where they’re going, and whether it’s worth the road it takes to get there. I know I am not alone among those who need purpose, excitement, and truth to speak. Because life cycles and we change and books end and do we really have to do all of this again? Read More »
I find myself in a place in desperate need of courage. A place where the well paved road I have been walking ends, and tomorrow opens up to what appears to be little more than a scratchy dirt path. A few scuffs of unbecoming grassy patches. An uneven spread of gravel that’s uncomfortable to walk on. Nothing well defined or beckoning. When you’ve run for so long, it can feel strange to be walking. What does one do when the old is gone, but the new is not yet? This is a place where the greatest challenge is not necessarily the challenges themselves, but the choice to face them fully alive. The choice of continuing to offer all of who I am, even to that which is unknown.
There are seasons we mark victoriously with our confidence. Days when we mount up unwavering against the challenges. This confidence carries us magnificently, as if in itself it can supersede our actual abilities, enabling us to do whatever we are confident about. But there are days that confidence eludes us, and storms that it cannot ride. We find ourselves in need of something greater – courage.
Courage is the quality we hold to when confidence escapes us. While confidence is based upon total belief that we can, courage remains steady even when we can’t. For it is not a case of whether you can or you can’t; courage is whether you do or you don’t. Courage not only positions us for victory, but enables us to face defeat. It is our ally in failure and success. It can sustain us when confidence evades us.
In the end it is our courage that makes us great, for all of us will at some stage face that which is beyond our ability, and greater than our confidence – storms which we cannot seem to mount. That is the time for courage. Courage is not cockiness that presumes itself to be greater than its opponent. Courage is the rod of iron that is built into a man’s soul, giving him a greater strength than that needed to overcome, and that is the strength needed to fall and not be crushed, struck down but not destroyed. Courage stems from a deeply planted trust that though battles may be lost, the war is won. Courage carries a fearsome hope that looks beyond the temporary. Courage sees.
I find myself in a place in need of this courage that sees. A place where I have lost my sight. A place where discomfort can be temporarily blinding. A place where the seasons change, roads bend, and empty spaces before me intimidate instead of welcome. But courage sees highways where there are but faded paths. Courage lives today with the eyes of tomorrow. And if I can see, then I can walk. And if I can walk, then soon I can run, till one day I find myself on well paved roads again.
Life is so much more than we imagine and so much less all at the same time. We long for things we scarce believe can be true, and yet they are what we were designed for. Every once in a while they peak through the shrouds of the common day reality to remind us that our aches are evidence of an original design that it all has fallen short of. In glimpses and moments we get to experience a life much richer than we ever thought possible but always dreamed could be so. And then there are times in our lives when it all seems far less than even the things we expected at bare minimum.
We have come to trust in something of what it was all meant to be, and have all tasted something less. There are days when we come alive with expectation and days when we close it all up like folding petals on a flower that’s rethinking its opportunity to bloom. After all, once fully opened with all that we are to the world around us, what is there left to do but succumb to the elements and the weathering of time, losing our petals one by one? If we hold them in tight will they last a little longer? Or will they simply fade without ever offering the beauty of themselves to the world? It seems inevitable that nothing that blooms stays open forever. In the end it is better to have risked more than experienced less. For when we shelter something, can we really prevent it from dying? It is all just part of an illusion that we can control our lives, perfectly, predictably. Life is altogether so much more and so much less. For all our plotting and planning and each calculated step, there will always be an unforeseen road. Always a point in the journey where the next corner calls into check our predictions of what “all things working together for good” will look like. We don’t stop believing that it will be good, but something of our limited understanding of how that looks has to shift.
Here we learn how to not make allowances for what shouldn’t be, while still acknowledging that it is. Here we refuse to let the beliefs of our hearts be reasoned out by temporary experiences. Instead, we allow them to teach us how to see through eternal eyes. We begin to trust in God’s ability to beautifully redeem our stories. We trust that in the end, His redemption will be so complete that we will not be able to imagine how our story could ever be better without that road it grieved us to walk. An unexpected turn in the road reminds us that down can sometimes be another form of up, and that what looks like loss can eventually lead to gain.
Perhaps it is that which makes life so unpredictable that also makes it majestic. Perhaps the search for safety contradicts the courage to live each moment to the fullest. I refuse to embrace a life without mystery, a life in which I have all the answers. For then I have limited my life to my ability to understand and control. It takes more courage to ask the questions to which you have no answers than to assume that you already know.
Here in this place of the unforeseen road, where what shouldn’t be is, we must hold loosely to our small ideas of how we thought this story would play out, and instead hold all the more firmly to His ability to write it well. We don’t give up on the story or stop believing that it will be good. We don’t stop blooming. When petals fall, we don’t refuse to ever grow flowers again. No, we do the opposite. We dig our roots deeper into the soil, knowing that He is faithful to send the sun and the rain on the just and unjust. Here we discover that all things are made beautiful in their time, and even unforeseen journeys have immeasurable value to a heart open to learning from them.
There is something about stories that speak so much of the way life really is – the way we ought to see it. Fairy tales have a way of whispering things so intrinsic to our nature – things we were designed for but have become distrustful towards. Something of these tales feels so familiar to us, as if perhaps we lived in a story like that once upon a time.
We seem to have a complete inability to recognise the stories that we ourselves live in. Our dreams are filled with fantasy and romance – things that perhaps other people discover at some point on their journey – but the lives beneath our own feet seem caught between ordinary and disappointing. We have come to distrust that the themes of fantasy find their heart in the real world.
We have experienced cruel realities, and each of them has come with a whisper that erodes the banks of hope in our heart. When did we begin to let tragedy define us? When did we stop believing that the things we dream are mirrors of His dreams towards us? The instincts of our heart, the very DNA of a world where light shines and there is no darkness, has given way to a common view of a lesser life. When did we come to deny so much and expect so little? What caused us to kill our deepest wells of life, to distrust our dreams, and go off striving on our own to earn something we couldn’t find? When did we forget the symphonies of grace?
Perhaps life really is all we ever dreamed of. Can we really believe that the life we live is without the goodness of the One who created it? If all the things we dream about life are not supposed to be so, then why do we have the capacity to dream them? It cannot be that we create greater stories in our minds that that which our Creator crafted for us. The essence of this life was designed to mirror the tales of His heart.
But we have forgotten our fairy tales. We have failed to notice the themes running through our days. Do we even hear the soundtrack that accompanies us anymore? Each life creates melodies like none ever has before. Turn the page and the orchestra soars. Walk down a new road and you find yourself in the midst of a piano solo. Seasons close to soft sounds that linger before resolving to that one note you crave to hear.
We must believe in things that do not seem to fit within the box of reason that disappointment has built for us. Because if we could draw back the curtains of how we have seen today, we would catch a glimpse of a forgotten fairy tale from which all great stories have been scripted. We would at once know that there is something of fantasy that is so much more real, more alive. That the pictures we paint in our imaginations are really faint memories of what was always meant to be. We would discover that dreams really do come true. We would step through the veil and with misty eyes realise that we were standing in the midst of every story we ever wished was true.