“We dilute the beauty of the gospel story when we divorce it from our lives, our worlds, the words and images that God is writing right now on our souls.” [Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet]
As I finished reading Bittersweet for the multiple-teenth time, this line convicted me. The essay discusses how essential our stories are – how our testimony is more powerful than any academic lecture. When people discuss who God is in their life, Biblical concepts become more relatable. Not only is it easier to listen to, but it is also easier to relate to.
But I don’t always want to share the messy parts of my life. Those are meant to be hid under the bed, in the basement, or on high closet shelves where I keep the rest of my stuff that I don’t want to organize or show off.
Even though that’s what the Gospel is based on. Jesus took our wreckage, and made it beautiful. His sacrifice changed us from hopeless to hopeful. If we were capable of taking care of ourselves, we would not need Him to rescue us. But I am finding I need this rescue daily.
You could look at me right now, in this moment, and think that my life is picture perfect. I am lounging on patio furniture in our screened in porch (decorated with glowing stringed lights, of course), typing away, while my hunk of a husband serenades me with the guitar. Atypical for an Arkansas August evening, the weather feels like it is much cooler than the 89* my WeatherBug app tells me it is, and the crickets are chirping in a rhythm to match Eric’s strumming. It feels like a movie-worthy moment.
The truth, though, is that the past two weeks have felt like I am driving a car that breaks down every thirty-three miles. And never at the right exit signs. And always where there is no cell phone reception. And I could go on about how desperate I have felt at times.
Work has been a roller coaster of busyness but good conversations with coworkers but rude customers but friends leaving but small victories but stress. I don’t always handle the hard days like I should. Instead of leaning on the Lord’s strength, I choose to sulk or allow people whom I have never even met to hurt me, even though they don’t know me. And even though they are normally acting irrationally.
I choose to push forward on my own, convincing myself that I am tough enough, but at the end of the day, I repeatedly find that I have failed.
Eric and I had a rough week last week. Out of the five weekday evenings, we spent four with other friends. We had separate plans every single morning before work. We had separate lunch plans almost every day. Eric had a couple of interviews which seemed unfruitful, and I didn’t know how to respond. We probably didn’t communicate like we could have. One night, I waited until he fell asleep then crept out to the living room to journal, because I was too embarrassed to admit to him how tired and distant I was feeling.
So where is the Gospel in this?
Right now. This redemptive moment. My day wasn’t any easier at work. My husband has two more interviews tomorrow. We have lots more to sort out when it comes to our next steps together in life direction.
In the midst of what is the biggest storm we have experienced together through this point in our marriage (today is our nine month anniversary, by the way), we get to end the evening quietly. God is good. Though we are two broken people, we have a marriage that works despite difficulty. We are well taken care of and provided for. We have not given up in the midst of failures, and we are forgiven for our selfishness.
Redemption doesn’t always mean that you have reached the “happily ever after” ending of a story. Redemption happens while the story is still going on. Redemption happens even without a found resolution.
My story is certainly not over. But the Gospel is being played out daily, as I realize more and more how big God is, and more and more how much I need Him. I am going to be more honest about the state of my life, no matter how unorganized and out of tune it may seem, because I need to continually focus on the composition God is arranging and rearranging.