Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Happy New Year - The Year to Quit Writing Our Own Stories!
Most women I know are writers... we just don't realize it. We call it "planning", but what we are really trying to do all the time is write... write our own stories. Sometimes I refer to this tendency as being a "control freak". Which is funny, but how many tears have I cried when a story didn't go my way? We write how our first date will go, what moving out and being on our own for the first time will be like, what our future husband will be like, how our weddings will go, who our children will be, how my career will go... and we write all these things out in our minds long before they ever become reality! I would only speak of myself doing this - but I know too many women to lie. We have so many preconceived notions, ideas, demands. We dream so deeply of what our soon-to-be realities will be like.
Then REALITY comes... my first date was awkward. Moving out on my own was sad and scary... and then incredibly lonely. My wedding got rained out and moved last minute. I feared having a son with my first child, because my inexperience with boys told me that they are all very rowdy and rambunctious... well, my daughter is exactly like that! I have taught for 9 years in the public school, and I am pretty sure I have not changed the world like I thought I would.
Yep, I think I'm a story writer - every day, every month, every year... and I often forget that I am actually just a character. Unique and wonderfully made, yes, but still in absolutely no control of most factors that drive the plot line of my story. It doesn't matter how many magazine clippings I kept over the years of outdoor beautiful weddings, because I could not keep flooding rains from pouring down for 3 days before my wedding.
Now, I know you are probably thinking, "Well, this should be titled 'Depressing New Year' the way you are talking, Keisha."
I disagree. I think the only happiness that can be found in this world, and makes all other happinesses richer, is knowing that you are only a character. I am a character in a beautifully woven story that intertwines with all the others' stories around me, day after day after day. When you know you are just a character, you look back and see how the author has come up with more vivid and meaningful experiences and lessons learned than you ever could have written.
People who still think they are their own story's author do not understand what it means to be small AND safe. To be helpless AND HAPPY. I so often fall back into my old writing habits, making and clinging to plans that MUST happen OR ELSE... and every time I find myself put back into my place, watching what is lovingly higher than I could think or ever be.
My first date was awkward, because he wasn't God's best for me. Later, 9 years later to be exact, I went on another first date that wasn't in the least awkward... and now 5 years later, I am carrying that man's second child. What a great story!
Moving out from my parents' house to be on my own was scary and lonely... but those were the first times I ever cried out to the Lord and learned what it was to grow spiritually as an adult, instead of a child that just followed what Mom and Dad believed. I was granted Biblical wisdom and strength from my own time spent studying, because I had a fresh and desperate need to find out who God truly was. And still is. What a beautiful time!
I didn't marry the cute ag guy, the thug that dared me to think outside the box, the nerd that was a good friend, or the grown up that was responsible... and I experienced heart ache and embarrassment and hopelessness. Until I married a handsome man that thinks deeply, talks loudly, jokes wildly, protects fiercely, and befriends me daily (who also does dishes, laundry, packing, and diapers). What a love story!
My wedding wasn't in front of the plantation style home on the lawn like I had dreamed and paid a deposit for. I was married in my church, the same church where I met my husband, where my daughter was dedicated, and where my husband and I minister together now. It was a dimly lit, romantic evening where no one that came could ever deny that we loved each other and would strive to for as long as we lived. What a glorious day!
My daughter is every bit rowdy as many little boys I have met, but I can already see in her the kind of passion and zeal that so many young women, including myself, lack in this tough world. True, teaching her to be gentle and humble will be a great task on my part, with God's guidance of course, but she is so other than I was and often am. She will never fear being who she is, believing what she believes, and going after what she knows she wants to do with her life. When she jumps off high places and yells "I did it!" while I have a heart attack, I am also comforted in knowing that she will not be afraid to make friends, to have an adventure, to speak up for what she thinks is right. What a beautiful child!
And, no, I haven't written any books or caused my students to score such high points on their tests that my peers and administration's jaws dropped and hands applauded. But I can think of that first kid that told me after many times that he was never going to college and reading was stupid finally say, "I love to read! And I think I might try college out when I'm older." Or that student who lost a parent and said, "Thank you for helping me this year, it has been hard." Or one of my absolute favorites, "Thank you for making me believe in myself. I am a lot smarter than I thought I was." And these small, but throat choking cards and words given to me throughout the years were all from students that I had no idea I was making any influence on in any way. What a surprising, fulfilling story!
So perhaps I won an essay contest and was featured in a national magazine at 15, won a writing award at a journalism competition at 17, and tested into Advance Comp in college. But the truth is, I am a terrible writer compared to this great and wonderful God who gave me this first day of 2014, and so many days before this one! How great and greatly to be praised!!!
Will I quit trying to write my own story? I try to quit all the time! I try to make plans with open hands, knowing that when He changes them or ruins them completely, that I have my hands open to receive with gladness whatever revision He has for me, the character, to experience. I can't quit making plans - He has given me a husband, 2 children, a home, 37 5th graders, and a ministry to be responsible for. I am a daughter, a friend, and a taxpayer. I have to plan, or I am not being an obedient character in this story He is writing. I have plans to help my husband in ministry, give birth to my son, finagle my life around so that I can be home with my children, and a lot of menu planning in the meantime!
But the most important plan I have is to just be available to experience His penmanship in my every day, say Yes to whatever He writes, and praise Him for His good and perfect will!
Happy New Year to all the recovering writers out there! May we all learn how to be characters and do it well!