I’m in the library this morning. The quiet spreads out like white frosting interrupted only by a few giggles scattered like confetti-colored sprinkles from the children’s section. Behind me are seemingly endless shelves of books. Love and war, mysteries and memoirs, one about a girl dragonfly with wings of flame. At this very moment, I could stand up, take a few steps, and choose any of them.
Life can feel this way as well. It seems there are thousands of stories we could be living. And in this world of option and opportunity we believe we could somehow pick any or all of them. We call this freedom, yet in so many ways it can become a trap.
Because instead of living fully in the reality I’ve been given, I’m often somewhere else, lost on the pages of “what might have been” or “what could be.” I want someone else’s story—a book with a more enticing spine. But so often when we look at each other’s lives it’s like seeing only the cover of a book or maybe the little blurb of highlights on the back.
We don’t know in chapter seven the tornado ripped through the roof and she’s still wandering around on the lawn collecting splinters of picture frames. We don’t understand in chapter three she was the kid with rubber-banded braces on her teeth, volcanoes of pimples on her face, and more pounds than she wanted around her middle. And that’s who she still sees every time she looks in the mirror. We don’t grasp that there is no Wizard of Oz, and behind the curtain she’s just as scared and small as the rest of us.
I am at a place in my life when I want to stop constantly scanning the shelves for something on-the-surface better. Something thrilling and adventurous. Something a little more wise or funny. Something shinier than what I’ve been given. Instead, I want to realize that while the details are different, in so many ways our stories are the same. They are all full of anger and fear, struggle and loss, hope and longing.
And I want to be a little more open about my story, which is why I wrote Fiercehearted. Because maybe someone is looking at me the way I’ve looked at folks whose stories seem better than mine. Maybe someone sees you that way, too.
I hope we can find the courage to stand beside each other, point to the pages, and say, “This is the paragraph I wish I could mark out with a wide, red pen. This is the ugly, unwelcome sentence. This is the black-as-night period I was so hoping would only be a tiny, gray comma. This is the part about the hurt and the doubt following me like a stray dog. Here’s where the cherry pie got thrown against the wall and, yes, the stain is still there. And, my goodness, there’s also this joy-soaked scene I never saw coming.”
Because it’s in the telling, in the opening, that we begin to see our stories for what they are—glory-filled and flawed works of art. We start giving (and, yes, getting) what all our tattered-cover lives really need.
Not comparison… A little more compassion.
This post is an excerpt from Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely (currently 40% off!).
Is there a space in your life that felt unsafe but has become a brave place? Today on More than Small Talk, Christy Rodriguez joined us to talk about overcoming fear and daring to step into all God has for us. Listen to the episode free here.