Life is a story. Every story has an author. If you, like me, have attempted to write your own story, you may have found yourself frustrated and confused at the lack of direction in the narrative. Here’s the message: you are not the Author. I am not the Author.
God writes a very simple story and it consists of three words: I LOVE YOU.
As simple as that story is, how often do we attempt to rewrite it? God writes in ink. God uses periods. The story has already been written. So why do we insist on changing it? Let’s start at the beginning.
As we begin to understand our story, we often misinterpret the setting. We are not the center of our universe. We are placed in the center of God’s love. God’s very simple message comes again and again: I LOVE YOU.
Immediately other characters enter our story: family, friends, culture, education, loved ones. We open ourselves to this story, but as we continue to gain our legs, we take on wounds as well. Allow me to use an example from my own life to illustrate.
I have always thought I was okay. I have allowed others to believe that I am okay. I am not. The reason I am not okay is because I have tried to play the role of author. I have tried to change what God has already written.
God has said to me: I LOVE YOU. I have chosen to disagree.
No One Loves Me: Divorce, like many of life’s crippling wounds, has made me think that this is the story. If the relationship that promises for better or worse becomes broken, then who really loves you?
I Love Me: At my best I have had good moments. At my best I have succeeded. I have accomplished in spite of my wounds. In these moments, I have taken pride in what I have done. I have loved me for all that I have done. It doesn’t last.
Jesus Loves Me: Telling this story seems innocent. It seems healthy. It seems okay. But why could I tell others that story? I told that story because I had always heard it. I heard the Word in the womb. I attended church more times in my first five years than most people will in a lifetime. But when head and heart don’t agree, the message is shallow.
I LOVE YOU, God writes in periods. There are no qualifiers. There is no “but” looming ominously behind those words. God does not pause to take a breath. God’s words are complete. I am the one putting a comma at the end. I am the one confused by unconditional love.
So what does all this mean? It means that I started in the center of God’s love. That does not change. But as others come into the story, they sometimes leave wounds. Family can leave wounds. Our work or educational experience can leave wounds. Our friends can leave wounds. Even church can leave wounds. And wounded lions don’t hunt, they scout.
The big, wide open space of God’s love is suddenly smaller. I close myself off because it seems safer to keep out those who hurt me. But now, to mask my wounds, I cover up. Instead of being the son wearing the coat of many colors, I am the son wearing many coats. It is heavy. It is tiring. It is the wrong story. The message of the story has not changed, but I have to decide when to stop writing my own story.
In Part 2, we will look more at what it means to “scout.”
Which story are you writing?