happy new year! i hope you had a safe & good holiday. we have had a great vacation with all my kids home together and still have a few days before it’s back to reality. my word for 2012 was “focus”. it makes me laugh when i think about it because if i look back on the past year it doesn’t seem very “focused.” but the truth is that it was an awesome guiding word for the year and helped me not do some things and be wiling to do some others.
in december i was with some of my dear & brave ex-good-christian-women friends, reflecting on the past year–the good, the bad, and the ugly, and i wrote this at the top of a piece of paper in front of me: ”yeah, this is my crazy story.”
what i meant by this is that from the outside looking in, some of my life looks a little nuts. i have been slogging it out at the refuge for 6 solid years, neck deep in relationship & friendship & community & poverty & pain & church dreaming, making less money than i did 25 years ago and working my butt off emotionally and practically. i have 5 kids, 4 of them teenagers, and that alone is crazy. my husband’s got three jobs & i’ve got two. week after week i write my guts out here for free & live with weird back pain & my house is a mess & i’m behind in just about everything.
but this is my crazy story.
no one else needs to understand it.
it doesn’t have to make sense. it doesn’t have to be practical. it doesn’t have to be a building block for a more-stress-free future.
it’s just my own crazy story that i find myself in.
all of us have our own crazy stories. we have all things we wish were different about our pasts. we all have things we wish were different about our present. and we are all in the midst of our own present crazy stories that are meant to be embraced, valued, honored, in all their dark & light, good & bad, joy & suffering, peace & stress.
the problem for some of us is that we often wish for a different story.
we wish we had more money, time, courage, love, health, success, stability, more you-fill-in-the-blank. i can’t tell you the number of times this past year i compared my writing to someone else’s, the cleanliness of my house to some else’s, my body to someone else’s, my kids to someone else’s, my faith to someone else’s, the refuge to other churches or ministries. and every time i do, i never feel better. i always come up short. i always end up feeling less than.
and then what happens is i miss the good that’s right in front of me. i start living in the past, wishing i had done this or that differently, or i start living in the future, thinking “if i just kick into gear and this or that, then things will become more-the-way-i-want-them.”
what happens is i miss the beauty of my own crazy story, here, now.
my family is in the midst of re-watching the lord of the rings trilogy and i think this scene is one of my all-time most favorite moments in all three of them from the two towers:
we are all on our own crazy adventures. they look so different from one another. some look more exciting or more brave or more difficult or more painful, but the truth is that there are always all of these things and more.
they are our own stories. and they matter.
i’m trying to embrace my crazy story for what it is and accept that for whatever reason, this is where i am, and it doesn’t have to make sense. my responsibility is just to show up and participate in it as honestly & boldly as i can and accept that God is at work in all kinds of mysterious ways in the midst.
so if you’re one of those people like me who struggle with accepting your story, my hope is that in this new year we’d lean into them in new ways. that we’d bravely keep walking forward, even if it’s in the dark. that we’d have faithful companions for our journey. that we’d let go of trying to make sense of what can’t be made sense of and enjoy the ride a little more. that we wouldn’t turn back or wish for a different one. that we’d remember there’s something good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.
yeah, “the universe is made of stories, not atoms” - muriel rukeyser
happy 2013. here’s to another year of living out our own crazy stories.
ps: i write a monthly down we go column for sheloves magazine the first tuesday of every month. january’s theme there is “brave” and i have a post there from yesterday, january 1st, called do it anyway. i am hoping to drink some of my own medicine and as i wrote it i decided that my word for 2013 is “brave”. do you have one?