This week my family was riding in the van. My oldest had a complaint of some sort or the other. She is going through a growth spurt (of which I have no empathy, I never experienced growing that fast) Her legs and arms often ache and she, much like my husband, doesn’t deal well with pain.
The youngest starts singing at the top of her lungs, “Life is Hard. Hard. Haaaaarrrrddd.”
Because that is pretty much my response to most of life’s difficulties. Because if life isn’t hard, it is almost impossible to see the absolute beauty in it.
Then this morning I went out for my run. The clouds in the distance were swollen and heavy. But to the right of me the sky was light and shades of blue poked through. I put my money on the wrong clouds and two blocks from my house the skies opened and released its torrent.
I hate running in the run.
The refrain, “Life is Hard. Hard. Haaaarrrrddd.” echoed through my head.
We get to choose how the story plays out. Rob Bell calls this Anakephalaiosasthai. When suffering happens, we choose the next step. We choose to believe God’s redemption was always there or we can choose to believe grace skipped us. We can live in to: Joy. Redemption. Reconciliation. Or we can choose: bitterness. Anger. Pain.
Our stories are told the way we want them to be told.
Almost ten years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. And for about a year it leveled me. Not just the treatments, but my story. I was so angry and bitter it happened to me. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t want that life. I wanted everything to go back to the way it was.
Somewhere along the way my story changed. Cancer no longer became the thing I wish I didn’t have, but the catalyst for change in my life. My healing wasn’t only physical, but emotional and spiritual as well. What I say about cancer now is, it was the best worst thing to ever happen to me.
Life is hard. But it is so freaking beautiful at the same time.
What is the story you tell about your hardship? Do you have broken relationships? Chronic illness? A bad marriage? A difficult job situation? Where does your story lead you? Is the path rocky, bitter, and full of anger? Or, is that rocky path beautiful and full of life? Do you turn your face to the rain and accept refreshment? Do you marvel at the pain in your body as generating new life?
(Paraphrasing Rob Bell) The thing about stories is, if you can tell it, you’ve already lived it. You’re through the other side; it didn’t destroy you, so why live like it has? This life we have is precious and beautiful and so short. The hard things in life ARE hard. They bring us to our knees. They change us. But every hard side has two retellings. Don’t waste your life telling the wrong story.
Choose today to live into: Hope. Truth. Grace.
And do yourself a favor and listen to this RobCast that explains it so much better than I ever could.