My oldest offspring is 17, on the cusp of adulthood. He has strong passions and giftings, an uncanny ability to cultivate puns, and an emotional maturity that still catches me off guard with frightening regularity. Perhaps, it is because the man he’ll soon be now stands before me with far more frequency than the boy he once was.
Scarier still, my youngest, only five, also has her own way of doing things and expressing herself. I provide two pairings of matching tops and skirts for her to choose from and she mixes them. “I wouldn’t have chosen that particular combination, but okay, that works, too.” She asserts, “I like them better this way.” The hidden undertone in my statement? “If you didn’t choose the outfits I selected, you chose wrong.”
My son turns left when I would have turned right. “You could’ve turned right here,” I say. He knows, “He just finds it easier to navigate the traffic on this side of town.” Why am I telling him if he doesn’t drive like me, he’s driving wrong?
I wish I could isolate the part of our brain that convinces us our way is the right way…and then remove it.
How often do I get pulled aside and told about a new diet, a new treatment, and a new prayer strategy, with that same “You could’ve turned right here” tone? It’s the tone that says, “If I was sick like you, I would do it this way, and obviously, my way would be better.” It’s the same implication that says, “Clearly, your continued sickness is a failure on your part. You haven’t researched enough, prayed hard enough, tried the right diets, treatments, moon rocks, rain dances, what-have-you, like I would if I was sick.
And maybe, if they were sick, they would do a rain dance or try a moon rock. Maybe that moon rock would be just what they needed. The thing is, my body is different.
Different bodies respond to different things and different lives tell different stories.
What worked for your uncle’s cousin’s roommate’s best friend, may not work for me, as much as we want it to. My life may be telling a different story than your uncle’s cousin’s roommate’s best friend, or than the one we expected.
Can I tell you a secret? I’m okay with that. In religious communities, the faith of the sick is often called into question. Surely, if they had more faith, they would already be healed, right? Did you know it actually takes a great deal of faith to allow God’s grace to meet me here day after day? Did you know it actually requires a tremendous amount of faith to endure treatment after treatment with unknown outcomes while holding onto my belief that God is good and I am loved? Did you know it actually requires a great deal of faith to entrust God with my story regardless of what it may look like or how challenging it may be?
And yet, I want to relinquish control. I don’t want to attempt to force the story my life is telling to have the same rhythm or imagery or even outcome as the story your life is telling. Our lives, our stories, our ways may be different, but I’m fully convinced that’s also what makes them beautiful.
May the story of my life tell what it was meant to tell.
Perhaps, this season of life includes chapters on finding joy in the corners of life, on rising to the occasion, of facing the beast, looking him in the eye day after day and going to battle until he is slain.
May the story of your life tell what it was meant to tell. Some may say it’s telling a story of failing by not getting better faster, or ever. I’d like to drop an elbow on those folks. Let your life keep telling the story of adapting, overcoming, loving in spite of loss, being unafraid to face the uncertain future head on, being grateful for every imperfect thing you have. Allow your life to continue to tell the story of being beautifully you. Allow your life to tell the story of community, of lives interweaving and sharing all they have.
The story of your life is telling a beautiful story. My way may be different, but it isn’t better. Keep telling your story, for it is lovely and brave.
A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog