Life is a story.
There is the big-picture Story that God is telling from beginning to end, a story where we are just bit players adding color along the way. But, within the big picture, our little bit roles are yet complex and stand-alone stories as well. Your life is the story of you.
That means that right now, today, you are writing your biography.
What will be included in your biography? What types of events are included in biographies of great people? What types of events are included in biographies that are fascinating to read? Biographies would be boring if there were no hard or scary parts. Difficulty makes the story interesting. Difficulty shapes us and makes us better people – when we accept the difficulty as a challenge and rise to the occasion.
Life is a story, and this is your biography happening now; therefore, do not be cast down when difficulty comes.
My son, the temptation to fuss about your work is like a mini-dragon or a mini-pirate, come to steal and kill your joy and your strength. But resisting it, fighting it, and overcoming it increases your joy and strength. You can foil the dragon’s plot, and the dragon’s challenge is even how it happens. You must learn to fight the mini-dragons so you will be ready when bigger and more dangerous ones come.
My self, there is no glory and no growth without dragons to fight – temptations to resist – and obstacles to overcome – hard duties to perform. We are sanctified through trial, not by ease. Would you be a better Christian, a better person? Then welcome the hard parts of life.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. – James 1:2-3
Life is a story, and your biography is being written as we speak; therefore, be careful how you respond. Your responses determine what kind of character you are.
My son, it is easy to imagine yourself as a strong and brave soldier, and to think that what you believe yourself to be in your imagination is what you actually are. But what you actually are will be shown in how you respond to challenges. If you would be brave, you must do brave things. If you would be kind, you must actually treat people kindly. If you would be creative, you must actually make things. Who you are will be shown in what you do and how you respond, not in daydreams in your imagination.
My self, if you imagine yourself as a kind, loving, diligent mother, then you are actually going to have to be kind – even when the children are not – loving – even when the children are resistant – and diligent – even when you’re tired. Reading and thinking about virtues is not adequate; they are developed through practice, not through daydreams.
Life is a story, and you are living your biography; therefore, know that the events you wouldn’t choose are the ones that will make you who you become.
My son, we would all choose to live a life of ease and prosperity, but God rarely grants that because it is rarely good for us. God’s will is our sanctification, not our earthly comfort. God sends us all our circumstances in order to teach us how to be more holy. Every hard thing is an opportunity to learn and grow, so turn to God and ask Him to shape you with His providence rather than try to fight or ignore it.
My self, the temptation to become irritable is precisely the opportunity to grow in patience. Becoming patient does not happen when nothing occurs that irritates or frustrates. Patience comes when we exercise it, and we can’t exercise it without the difficulty that demands it.
So, this week let us pay attention to our responses. Instead of being caught up in the heat of the moment, look at it as a biography in progress. How would you want it to be written? What do you want said of you? Make that true.
An aside: The metaphor I post is the metaphor I used the week previously during our Monday Meetings. Last Monday, after this pep-talk (given more conversationally than this post), Hans was helping me fold kitchen towels during our dinner-prep time and he commented,
“I think I should work at getting faster at my math facts so they don’t take all my time. I want time to play with friends, you know! I don’t want my biographers to have to write, ‘He spent his childhood in boredom.'”
By George, I think he’s listening.